Pre-Workout for Running: A Complete Guide

Woman running

Everybody should run. The health benefits of running are numerous. And this should be reason enough for everybody to lace up and hit the pavement.

Whether you’re going for a 10k run, competing in a marathon, or pushing your boundaries in an ultra, running is wildly beneficial.

But, on the opposite end of the spectrum, running can also be very taxing on the body. And sometimes, you need a bit of a “boost” to jumpstart your system.

If you’re looking for additional performance benefits that go beyond your morning cup of coffee, then a good pre-workout supplement might be an excellent option for you.

Many pre-workout benefits will be helpful to you, especially if you’re training for a competition or even if you’re trying to hit a new PR.

This article will cover what a pre-workout for running can do for you, and the best kinds that will enhance your running performance.

What Is a Pre-Workout?

A pre-workout is a supplement created to improve performance; directly or indirectly.  Often made up of ingredients such as caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine, and of course, BCAA’s. Pre-workouts not only enhance performance, but can also bolster the energy levels of athletes, and improve recovery.

As a runner, taking a pre-workout 20 to 30 minutes before hitting the pavement can improve your endurance.

This is because pre-workouts postpone muscle fatigue and soreness, allowing you to smash goals, set new PR’s, and improve your overall execution.

Pre-workouts are designed to activate your nervous system. It refines your blood flow and allows the right nourishment to reach the right muscles, supporting enhanced performance.

They are typically consumed in the form of a powder mix. However, they can also be bought in pill form.

Athletes who take pre-workouts report feeling tingling sensations in their hands, fingers, and toes – a result of a common pre-workout ingredient, beta-alanine.  As well as an increased surge of energy throughout their body.

What Are Common Ingredients in a Pre-Workout Supplement?

Every type of pre-workout is going to contain different ingredients from another. But, there are certain ingredients that you can find in the majority of them.

1. Caffeine

A very common ingredient in pre-workouts is caffeine. Caffeine gives you a burst of energy, increased endurance, and improved performance on your runs.

As a stimulant, caffeine activates the body’s central nervous system, triggering it to begin utilizing its fat reserves as fuel.  However, some prefer to use caffeine on their own terms, such as a cup of coffee, tea, etc.  Additionally people vary dramatically in regards to caffeine tolerance and sensitivity.  Therefore, many runners prefer a pre-workout without caffeine.

2. Creatine

Not all pre-workouts have creatine, but many do. And it’s understandable why.

Creatine helps with bolstering energy levels for extended runs as well as vigorous workout sessions.

It also speeds up muscle growth and strengthens many other muscles in the body.

3. Electrolytes

Pre-workouts contain a variety of chemical elements (or electrolytes). The least of which are potassium, magnesium, and sodium.

All are necessary to maintain a level of optimum performance. Have you ever wondered why you feel exhausted after sweating from a long run?

It’s because sweat doesn’t just consist of water. It’s also packed full of electrolytes, which become depleted when you begin sweating profusely.

Electrolytes help keep your body hydrated and also regulate your heartbeat.

They can be found in your blood, sweat, cells, tissues, etc. And pre-workouts contain these minerals, which help to keep your system engaged.

4. Vitamins

Vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, etc. These are just a few of the minerals that pre-workouts contain.

All help activate and boost your immune system, allowing for more energy and endurance for your runs.

They also aid with recovery when your sore muscles are screaming at you from a particularly arduous workout.

5. Betaine

Ever heard of betaine before? Well, after reading this, you will be well versed in how beneficial it is.

Betaine is an amino acid that has been proven to encourage muscle gain (as well as fat loss) because of its protein property mixture within the body.

Betaine is a derivative of choline.  Without choline, betaine is not synthesized in the body, which is why you will see a lot of pre-workouts containing choline.

The Benefits of Pre-Workout for Runnerspre-workout for running

While pre-workouts are not for everyone (people with underlying health conditions should avoid them), they offer many advantages for those who can safely take them.

Below is a list of some of the benefits pre-workouts can provide:

1. Increased Quality of Runs

Among the most powerful pre-workout benefits are the increased levels of energy you feel. Your system begins firing off on all cylinders.

An added layer of excitement and exhilaration shoots through your body. And this translates well when you put your feet to the pavement.

You’re more confident; you feel stronger; even the music in your headphones sounds better. Every stride is animated as your entire run takes on a different feel and texture.

2. Good for “Down” Days

You may love running with all your heart, but if you’re truthful, there are definitely days when you aren’t “feeling it” for whatever reason.

This happens to everybody. However, if you’re training for a marathon or an ultra, then you know that skipping a training day for anything short of an injury is not optional.

So how do you motivate yourself on those “down” days? Go for the pre-workout. The extra energy provided will be more than enough to get you out of your funk and on the pavement.

3. Better Blood Flow

When you take a pre-workout, the extra energy enhances the blood flow in your system. More blood circulating equals more oxygen to your muscles.

As a result, this helps with improving your runs but will also aid with recovery time after your workout is complete.

Should You Take a Pre-Workout Daily as a Runner?

Like anything else in life–moderation is key. Yes, pre-workouts are great to enhance your running performance.

But that doesn’t mean it should be relied upon or used as a crutch. It’s not very hard to become dependent on pre-workouts for every run you go on.

So be vigilant. Many pre-workouts contain stimulants–which means they do have the potential to be addictive.

Try to be cautious and responsible with your use of them.

Listen to your body and pay attention to how it reacts over time as you continue using your pre-workout.

Yes, you can use it daily if you’d like (provided you’re healthy with no underlying ailments that would negatively impact you–consult with your doctor), but be on the lookout for–and adhere to–any signs indicating that you may need to cut back or stop altogether.

Here are a few warning signs to be aware of (note that the majority of the following are related to caffeine intake):

1. A Built-up Tolerance

The more you take a pre-workout for running, the more your body will adapt to them. Over time, this can result in consuming more to feel the same effects you did initially.

If you find yourself needing to take 2,3 or more scoops to get the same feeling that one scoop used to deliver. That’s a sign that you should cut back.

2. Difficulty Sleeping

The energy boosts pre-workouts provide usually subside after a couple of hours. So generally speaking, this won’t be a problem.

But, if you are used to consuming them every day. The caffeine build-up of weeks or months of consistent use can eventually catch up with you.

It has been reported by many athletes that, in some cases, they do experience bouts of insomnia due to overconsumption of pre-workouts.

If this is something that you find happening, cut back immediately. Once you stop for a period, your sleeping patterns will return to normal.

3. Dependence

A pre-workout for running should be an asset to your regimen, not a crutch that you have to lean on. Be sure that you are not becoming dependent on them for your running sessions.

If you find yourself making excuses not to run if you are out of pre-workout on a particular day. Go for the run anyway, and don’t buy another batch for a while.

Pre-Workout Supplements for Runners

There is a myriad of products to consider when it comes to running supplements. You can decide which ones are best for you by doing a little research.

Do your homework; study up on the effects of the pre-workouts you’re looking into, and see if they line up with what you need and want.

Some pre-workouts provide you with a jolt of energy. Some give you stamina and endurance. And others are a bit more subtle and deliver more focus and concentration.

It really depends on what you’re looking for. But whatever you want, I can guarantee there is an endurance supplement that will satisfy that need.

What Pre-Workout for Running is Best For Me?

This is going to be based–again–on what you’re looking for in your pre-workout. Be sure to take some time to decide what’s important to you.

Do you want to have more focus and concentration? Maybe you need that anchor to balance your attention during your runs. Or maybe you need something more.

Maybe you would prefer to have more energy, power, and endurance for your runs. If that’s the case, then you’ll want to choose your pre-workout based on those requirements.

At the end of the day, choosing a pre-workout for running, that’s best for you comes down to knowing what your goals are, understanding the requirements for those goals. And then paying attention to how your body responds to the pre-workout.

When deciding what brand is right for you as a runner. Those are the key variables you need to ponder.

Does a Pre-Workout for Running Last for a Long Time?

This depends on the individual. The period of time will vary from runner to runner based on a multitude of factors.

For instance, lighter runners will be hit harder by the pre-workout. And it will generally last longer with them as well due to their smaller stature.

Heavier or bigger runners will definitely still feel it too. But it won’t be as intense, and it won’t last as long as a runner who is 30lbs, 40lbs, or 50lbs lighter–for obvious reasons.

Another factor could be diet. If you’re someone who already consumes a lot of coffee, energy drinks, etc., then the time your pre-workout lasts will be affected by that variable as well.

However, if you strip away all of these factors and look at the brass tacks of it all, you can expect the initial burst of a pre-workout to last one to two hours.

And then you’ll have the “tail-end” effects sticking around for another hour or two after that.

When’s the Best Time to Consume a Pre-workout for Running?

To really experience the pre-workout benefits and get an optimal running performance, you’ll want to consume your pre-workout 20 to 30 minutes before you go for your run.

It takes a little time to kick in, so don’t down it and then hit the trails right away. No, once you’ve consumed it, kick back and wait for at least 20 minutes.

Once you begin to feel the tingles, or notice the burst of energy arising–then you can lace up and head out.

Word of caution: Do not consume a pre-workout containing caffeine 5 hours before you’re scheduled to go to sleep.

If you do, you will be up tossing and turning all night. If you really want to go for a run later in the evening, do so without a pre-workout so that it doesn’t affect your sleep patterns.

Is it Good to Consume a Pre-Workout for Running?

Pre-workouts are most popular in the weightlifting and bodybuilding community.

So the question: “Are pre-workouts good for runners?” is a valid one.

And the answer is yes.

Pre-workout benefits stretch far beyond the realm of just weight weighting and bodybuilding.

Since a pre-workout for running enhances your endurance and boost your energy levels, they are actually very good for runners. And are also incredibly effective for building the stamina you need to go the distance.

Looking to Get a Pre-Workout for Running?

There are many runners out there that swear by the benefits of pre-workouts. And for a good reason, a good brand has countless benefits that it can offer you.

And quite frankly, you’d be leaving a lot on the table if you didn’t (at the very least) give it a try.

The advantages you can gain by taking a pre-workout for running are waiting for you.

So if you’re interested in experiencing some of those advantages, be sure to check out this site to see what is available for your pre-workout needs.

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