There are a lot of myths and misconceptions when it comes to the performance-based benefits of supplements for runners, especially those taken in the hours or minutes leading up to a run.
Pre-workout supplements are usually associated with bodybuilders or fast-twitch muscle growth and/or performance.
This type of muscle group is primarily responsible for quick or rapid bursts of energy needed during activities like sprinting or weightlifting.
However, slow-twitch muscles respond quite differently and are mostly utilized when participating in longer, endurance-based activity – like running.
This group requires different fuel and a unique nutritional support profile that both nourishes the body and promotes quick absorption into the blood stream.
Like any other physical activity, running requires an immense amount of energy and a consistent fuel source.
Without proper nutrition, glycogen stores (the primary fuel for runners) become depleted and serious performance-based consequences can occur – fatigue, nausea, cramping, muscle breakdown etc.
Thankfully, many pre-workout supplements designed specifically for runners promote building energy stores prior to running, sustaining performance during activity, and ensuring optimal recovery afterwards.
This makes proper research and a general understanding of what the body needs during endurance activity extremely important if peak physical performance during a run is the end goal.
Do Pre-Workout Supplements Help Runners Specifically?
The answer to this question all boils down to how well you understand the nutritional requirements of a runner.
A product is only as good as the ingredients it has in it – runners need a combination of calories, carbohydrates and basic proteins or amino acids.
The best pre workout supplements for running are usually a precise formula composed of quick-burning carbohydrate sources and amino acids (protein) that prevent muscle breakdown and fatigue.
This helps slow twitch muscles perform consistently well during a run while also ensuring the body recovers quickly afterwards.
What are the Benefits of Taking a Pre-Workout Supplement for Running?
Good pre workout supplements for running provide many different benefits such as increased energy, strength, endurance, and mental focus/fortitude.
Specific ingredients have different impacts – most running-specific pre workout formulas involve some combination of the following compounds:
Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) – These are made up of leucine, valine, and isoleucine and prevent the breakdown of muscle fibers during endurance-based activities. Insufficient levels of BCAAs present in the body during a run lead to muscle fatigue and weakness.
Glutamine – An amino acid that is responsible for immune function and tissue repair, Glutamine becomes depleted when the body is under stress and cortisol is released. Constantly impacted by cardiovascular activity, it needs to be replenished before a run to ensure body stores are adequate while running.
Caffeine – Responsible for providing a quick energy boost and a mental stimulant, caffeine reduces the levels of perceived effort so you can train harder during a run. Research shows it also improves the body’s ability to convert fatty acids for energy use, conserve carbohydrates, and delay fatigue.
Creatine – Helps to promote strength and endurance of slow-twitch muscle fibers.
Beta-Alanine – Reduces muscle fatigue and lactic acid build-up.
There are certainly many more common ingredients that are usually found in the best pre run energy supplements, but the ones outlined above are definitely the most prevalent.
Are Pre-Workout Supplements for Running Safe?
It is always important to know exactly what you are putting into your body and what specific purpose each ingredient of a good pre workout for running holds.
Health and safety should always be the number one priority of any dietary supplementation plan or product. It’s vital to look for products that not only use lab-tested ingredients that have a large sample size of safe-use cases but are also backed up by measurable increases in performance.
There is no “one-size fits all” way to look at pre-workout supplement health.
Certain ingredients can impact different people depending on age, body type, or general health. The key is to stick with products that are vigorously tested in both the lab and real world so that accurate health conclusions can be reached.
Some possible side effects of pre-workout supplementation include:
Feeling jittery or noticing a more rapid than usual heartbeat sensation
Increase in stomach activity/digestion during a run (which can lead to bowel issues or “runners trots”)
Racing thoughts or anxiety
Many companies offer samples or smaller sized containers of product to allow potential customers to get a feel for a product.
It is very important to try out a large variety of different products and ingredients to figure out what combination works best for you in terms of performance and overall health.
So, as you can see – utilizing a good pre workout for running has a ton of positive benefits that are backed by quality scientific research.
The next step is to take a look at some top-rated products on the market in 2022 that are consistently recommended by a wide variety of runners.
This list is a great place to get started and offers a ton of insight into the best pre workout supplements for long distance running.
Let’s dive in!
Top 13 Best Pre-Workout Supplements for Runners 2022
100% ALL NATURAL PRE WORKOUT POWDER. Pulse is a naturally sweetened and flavored pre workout supplement that contains large and effective doses of the best science-backed ingredients, including those found in many nitric oxide supplements: L citrulline malate, betaine, beta alanine, alpha gpc, caffeine, and L theanine.
BOOSTS ENERGY & FOCUS. Mix a serving of this preworkout for women and men with water, swig it down, and get fired up and zeroed in and crush your workout . . . and without the jitters, upset stomach, or post-workout crash.
ENHANCES STRENGTH & ENDURANCE. This all natural preworkout powder is a nitric oxide booster and helps you push more weight and reps, get bigger and better pumps, and gain more muscle and strength.
GUARANTEED RESULTS OR YOUR MONEY BACK. If you're not 100% satisfied with this preworkout for men and women, just notify us and we’ll give you a prompt and courteous refund on the spot. No complicated forms and no return necessary.
THE MAN BEHIND THE BRAND. Tired of the exaggeration and lies of the workout supplements industry? So was Mike Mathews, international bestselling fitness author with over a million books sold, and that's why he created Legion Athletics.
Review: Easily one of the highest rated pre-workout supplements on the market in 2022, Pulse by Legion Athletics packs a serious punch.
Made with all natural ingredients that boost strength, energy, and endurance, Pulse contains L-Citrulline, Caffeine, Ornithine, and Beta-Alanine that work together to keep you at your best from start to finish.
Pulse is 100% natural and contains no harsh stimulants or any other ingredients that can sometimes cause jitters, stomach aches, or post-workout crashes.
Made with all natural ingredients.
Backed by scientific research.
Contains caffeine for an extra physical and mental boost.
DRINK IT IN: Our Hydration Mix was designed to naturally provide all-day hydration with quality ingredients. It helps to support energy production and muscle recovery.
WHAT’S IN IT: Packed with a blend of B vitamins, amino acids, and minerals to support your overall wellbeing, our Hydration Mix features essential electrolytes and clean** ingredients to deliver the nutrients needed to power your physical activity.
WHAT’S OUT: Our mission is to provide a safe way for everyone to hydrate. Our vegan** Hydration Mix is sugar-free, caffeine-free, and contains no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives.
ESSENTIAL ELECTROLYTES: Our Hydration Mix contains sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium, which are key to help balance and retain fluids in your body and maintain the ionic balance.
HOW TO HYDRATE: Add one scoop to 8-16 ounces of water and shake until the powder has completely dissolved. Enjoy the clean and natural ** hydration.
Review: BioSteel was one of the best-kept secrets in the supplement world for a very long time.
It is highly effective before, during, and after any type of exercise – especially running.
Players from the NHL, NBA, and NFL found out about this fantastic product long before it became mainstream and were filling up the classic green Gatorade sideline bottle with this stuff.
Packed full of BCAAs and made without sugar or caffeine (no energy crash!), BioSteel contains several potent amino acids, minerals, and vitamins to keep you at your best throughout your run.
It also assists in building lean muscle mass, replenishing electrolytes, and immune system maintenance.
Made with all natural ingredients.
Vitamin B Blend is water-soluble and plays important role in metabolizing proteins and carbs.
BCAAs are quickly absorbed and provide energy + mental clarity.
Assists in recovery and reduces fatigue.
One of my all-time favorite products, BioSteel is easily one of the best pre workout supplements for running.
It is worth every cent of its hefty price tag – this is a classic case of “you get what you pay for.”
MusclePharm Assault Pre-Workout Powder
Review: MusclePharm really did a fantastic job with this particular product. Chock full of ingredients that promote maximum energy, strength, and recovery, Assault performs well pretty much across the board.
Beta-alanine, L-Glycin, and Creatine monohydrate certainly mesh well together to enhance muscular endurance.
This product also contains both caffeine and taurine, which increase energy + focus, reduce fatigue, and may even help to reduce inflammation.
Increases endurance and power.
No artificial dyes.
Contains creatine, beta-alanine, and caffeine.
All ingredients are clinically proven.
Occasionally excess foam when product is mixed.
Assault certainly offers a lot and comes at a reasonable price.
Definitely can’t go wrong with this product – it certainly classifies as a good pre workout for running, especially with the added bonus of creatine monohydrate.
Caffeine: Red Leaf Pre Workout contains 40 milligrams of pure caffeine per serving for a mild, gentle energizing boost without jitters or an energy crash
Beta-Alanine: 1.0 grams of beta alanine per serving for improved muscle endurance and stamina. This amino acid activates a natural histamine response in the body, which may result in a tingling, itching feeling. With continued use, this sensation will diminish.
BCAA's: Red Leaf Preworkout contains 1,000 milligrams branched chain amino acids per serving, which help your muscles recover after exercise
Red Leaf Pre-Workout is a healthy, clean alternative to over-caffeinated pre workout powders and energy drinks, and is also enjoyed as a replacement for coffee
Red Leaf is a family-owned company whose products are produced in a GMP Certified Facility in the United States
A NATURAL BOOST OF ENERGY: Maintain healthy stamina, motivation, and mental focus with 150mg of organic caffeine derived from 20 adaptogenic herbs, superfoods, green coffee extract, yerba mate, and ginseng for sustained energy without the crash.
BETTER INGREDIENTS: Certified USDA organic, non-GMO verified, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, keto friendly, and with NO preservatives, hormones, sweeteners, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. All ingredients you can pronounce!
BUILD LEAN MUSCLE: Drink before a workout to promote vascularity and pump with only 20 calories per serving and no added sugar. Our premium formula boosts metabolism while supporting muscle growth and recovery for better long-term results.
OPTIMIZE OVERALL HEALTH & VITALITY: More than just a pre-workout, each serving is packed with nootropics and essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and micronutrients for full-body nourishment, so you look and feel your best!
NO JITTERS, NO CRASH, NO ITCHY SKIN: Avoid unpleasant and dangerous side-effects associated with "mainstream" pre-workouts: jitters, heart palpitations, itchy skin, bloating, nausea, or trouble sleeping. Only clean ingredients for better results.
Review: The world’s first completely organic pre-workout supplement certainly has created quite a large fan base in the running community.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that it is made up of quality ingredients such as Maca, Acai, Yerba Mate, Green Tea, Beet Root, and many more.
It definitely is a solid source of natural fuel that leaves you feeling energized and focused. Overall stamina is also greatly increased as well, especially since it doesn’t contain any synthetic sugars or artificial sweeteners.
Organic Muscle has also done a great job with creating three unique blends of organic ingredients, herbs, and superfoods – vascularity & pump blend, (beet root, pomegranate, acai) energy, focus, & stamina blend, (coconut water, ginseng, yerba mate, maca, and others) and an antioxidant & metabolic boost blend (green tea, goji berry, cranberry, blueberry, niacin).
Certified USDA organic.
No artificial sweeteners or processed sugars.
Ingredients are easily processed by the body.
Upgraded formula dissolves easily in water and tastes much better.
Doesn’t contain any BCAAs or Glutamine.
A great all-around product, USDA Certified Organic Muscle really backs up their claims of creating one of the best pre run energy supplements on the market today.
Mixing this product with a source of BCAAs and Glutamine creates a fantastic one-two punch.
✅ FORMULATED WITH THE BEST 100% NATURAL AND CLINICALLY DOSED INGREDIENTS - INFINITY pre-workout contains clinically dosed ingredients proven to achieve maximum muscle pump, power, and high performance for both men and women. Every ingredient is scientifically dosed to achieve maximal benefits without any unnecessary fillers unlike most pre-workout powders and it’s creatine free!
✅ NO “SHAKES”, “JITTERS”, OR CRASHING - Sustainable, clean and natural energy to help you maintain your pump and focus through your most intense workouts without any adverse side effects such as shakes, jitters, and crashing. Most pre-workout supplements on the market result in a short amount of energy, followed by a brutal crash leaving you fatigued for the rest of the day. INFINITY is specifically formulated to avoid these undesirable side effects.
✅ ENERGY, PUMP, AND FOCUS - Not only does INFINITY pre-workout drink energize your workouts, but it will also ensure peak levels of pump and volume through safe nitric oxide booster ingredients helping you maintain your energy and focus. Whether you want to build lean muscle mass and lose stubborn fat, increase your cardio, or just looking for an extra boost before workouts, INFINITY is the preworkout mix for you.
✅ Good Manufacturing Process (GMP) LAB CERTIFIED - Our labs are GMP certified for safety and all our ingredients are tested for purity. The GMP certification is enforced by the U.S. F.D.A. so you can be completely confident in the quality and safety of our product. INFINITY pre-workout is vegan friendly.
✅ 100% MONEY-BACK-GUARANTEE - We are extremely confident in our products so if for any reason you are not completely satisfied with your results, we will fully refund your purchase.
CLEAN PRE WORKOUT SUPPLEMENT: Naked Energy is a vegan pre workout powder manufactured in the USA with 10 High-Quality ingredients using amino acids, vitamins and caffeine from unroasted coffee beans.
VEGAN FRIENDLY: A vegan pre workout energizer, with no added sugars, fillers, artificial sweeteners, colors or flavors. Pairs great with a post-workout shake using our Vegan Protein powders to build muscle.
YOUR BEST WORKOUT PARTNER: Designed specially to enhance athletic performance.** Take as a pre workout drink mix to get clean energy in the gym. Feel the pure, healthy energy needed for a workout, not like you may have a heart attack.
THIRD-PARTY TESTING: Like all Naked Nutrition products, our clean pre workout for men and women is independently third-party tested for purity, safety and nutritional value.
MAXIMUM NUTRITION: Our pure preworkout contains 333mg of Vitamin C, 40mg of Vitamin B3, 667mcg of Vitamin B6, 333 mcg of Folate, 47mcg of Vitamin B12, 27mcg of Calcium, 200mg Caffeine and 1mg of Creatine.
✔️PLANT BASED ACTIVE FUEL // Motion is a plant based vegan pre-workout supplement manufactured in the USA. The ingredients were created using natural science to help athletes push new boundaries.
✔️STAY ACTIVE LONGER, PUSH HARDER AND STAY HYDRATED // Typical pre workout drinks fall short because they are optimized for an hour of indoor exertion. That’s why we went beyond. Motion uses 5-trademarked ingredients to deliver long-lasting, sustainable energy, complete hydration, and elevated performance. Specially formulated so that you can conquer the biggest mountains, waves, or races.
✔️WE CARE ABOUT YOU // No Chemicals, Fillers or Synthetic Stimulants, Non-GMO ingredients, Vegan, and Gluten-Free. All products are produced in a cGMP facility. No jitters or crash, just pure sustained energy.
✔️WHOLE FOOD NUTRITION // Motion preworkout contains 3 natural sources of natural caffeine-- green tea, yerba mate and green coffee bean. Potassium enriched coconut water. Nitric Oxide boost from beets and 6 natural adaptogens for increased VO2 max and immune support. Himalayan Pink salt for electrolytes and black pepper for absorption. Pomegranate for antioxidants, vitamin c and recovery. Naturally sweetened and flavored.
✔️OUTDOOR INSPIRED (FOR THOSE WHO CHALLENGE THE WILD) // The only available outdoor approved pre-workout. Whether you are a hiker, boarder, runner, cycler, climber, yogi, crossfitter, fighter, obstacle racer or outdoor athlete. Motion will deliver premier functionality to help you excel at your passion of choice. A perfect supplement for cardio activity 1000mg of Peak O2 will increase your VO2 Max & power levels
Review: Specifically designed for outdoor athletes, Motion is a pre workout supplement that uses natural science to deliver long lasting energy, hydration, and performance.
Like all other Truwild products, Motion is vegan friendly and gluten-free. It also contains many ingredients that other products listed in this guide don’t have – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Green coffee bean (caffeine), Himalayan pink salt (electrolytes), and black pepper (absorbtion) combine with several other more common ingredients to create a potent and effective pre workout formula.
Unique and all natural ingredients.
Designed with runners specifically in mind.
Easy on the stomache.
Lack of BCAAs and true strength building compounds.
This is a truly unique product that brilliantly combines a ton of simple, all-natural ingredients to create one of the best pre workout supplements for marathon runners and other long distance endurance athletes.
Despite not containing creatine, glutamine, or any other BCAAs, the plant based formula of Truwild still is exceptionally effective.
Review: Athlean-RX has been a top performer in the pre-workout supplement industry for a while now.
They consistently make great products that are almost always reviewed favorably – their supplements receive rave reviews and are very high quality.
X-CITE has included creatine HCL to help with performance, endurance, and strength while also keeping beta-alanine, caffeine & guarana, and several amino acids to round out the rest of the formula.
No proprietary blends.
Improved mental focus.
X-CITE is a fantastic option and clearly one of the best pre workout supplements to take before running.
It serves as both a clean source of fuel as well as a strength/endurance catalyst due to the extra amino acids and creatine HCL. Can’t recommend this particular product enough!
CRUSH YOLO Pre-Workout
Review: Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of the branding for this particular product. I was not impressed by the name at all and didn’t really take it all that seriously on the surface.
However, after digging a little bit deeper, I really found that there’s a lot to like about it as well.
Not only does YOLO contain no sugar, dyes, or any other artificial ingredients, it also is extremely light on the stomach – it certainly is in the mix for the best pre workout supplement for long distance running.
Comes with in-depth workout plans.
Easy on the digestive tract.
Consistent energy and mental focus.
Once you look past the name, this product checks all the boxes (and then some!) for what a good pre workout for running needs to contain.
It has a ton of consistently positive reviews from a wide range of athletes and is easily a supplement that is worth checking out soon.
Jacked Factory Nitrosurge Pre Workout Supplement
Review: Nitrosurge is a quality pre workout supplement that is made in the USA – it features a really in-depth clinically dosed formula to ensure noticeable results quickly.
Perfect for runners due to the three-pronged combination of energy, focus, and endurance.
Clinically dosed formula.
Research backed ingredients.
No fillers or dyes.
Near instant mental focus and lasting energy.
Can cause difficulty sleeping if consumed too close to bedtime.
Not just for use before lifting or bodybuilding, this is another good example of a quality pre-workout supplement that can have a huge positive impact on your running experience and baseline performance.
EVERTRAIN PRE - Clean Pre Workout Powder
Review: PRE uses six clinically backed ingredients to provide sustained focus, strength, and endurance. Everything in the formula is naturally sourced and free from artificial fillers or coloring.
Evertrain is known for creating great tasting products and PRE is definitely no exception – each of the three flavors is delicious!
Nitric Oxide booster.
Heightened cognitive function.
Easy on the digestive system.
Doesn’t contain glutamine.
This product really locks you in mentally before heading out on a run – which is often half the battle, especially when tackling longer distances.
PRE really helps with sustained endurance too.
That’s just a small sample of some of the products and science-based nutrition that can help you achieve peak performance when engaging in an endurance sport like running.
It’s really important to research and experiment with a few different supplements in order to figure out what works best for you. Remember, there is no “one size fits all” pre workout formula for running – everyone will respond to a product differently.
Whatever way you look at it, investing in a good pre workout supplement will certainly pay dividends in the future – proper nutrition plays a huge role in strength, endurance, and mental focus.
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Michael is a fitness expert and professional home/garage gym builder. His tutorials, guides, and reviews are backed up by his own experience and will definitely help you achieve your goals. He also loves putting mayo AND ketchup on the pizza for some reason!