Best Pre-Workout Supplements for Running
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We’ve all had those mornings…the alarm goes off and the last thing we want to do is go for a run. Maybe it’s cold outside, or maybe you had a rough night. Or maybe you are a competitive runner looking for an extra boost to get you through your long-distance run this week.
Fortunately, you can boost your power and performance by taking a pre-workout running supplement. Pre-workouts push your training to the next level in two ways; through mental stimulation using psychoactive ingredients, and through increasing muscle output with compounds that directly target your muscles’ ability to produce energy.
When buying a pre-workout supplement for running, consider favoring ones with lower levels of caffeine and creatine. Look for ingredients that can improve your stamina and endurance, such as Beta Alanine and L-Glutamine, and for vasodilators such as Vitamin C, L-Citrulline, and L-Arginine. Vasodilators relax and expand your blood vessels, increasing your blood flow and as a result, decreasing blood pressure and increasing the amount of oxygen to your muscles.
At a Glance: Quick Look At Our Top Picks for Best Pre-Workout Supplements for Running
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Best Rated Pre-Workout Supplement for Running Reviewed
Every brand in the market will promise you how good it is and make many claims, making it difficult to pick through the marketing and choose the right one for you. There are many scientific ingredients whose names and effects are hard to keep track of.
It’s for this reason that we have come up with a list of the top ten pre-workout supplements for running and will help you decipher ingredients to choose the pre-workout to suit your needs.
InfraRed NRG fulfils a variety of an endurance athlete’s needs. Unlike other pre-workout supplements, InfraRed is a “non stim” pre-workout, meaning it does not contain any stimulants, such as caffeine. It uses quality ingredients and natural extracts not commonly seen in the industry such as beetroot juice powder and Schisandra Chinensis berry extract.
The amino blend has a holistic formula which enhances performance and stamina. The two-stage formula helps in boosting muscle cells and reducing pain; L-Leucine for balancing body nitrogen levels and Beta-A for buffering metabolic acid and waste. The energy blend includes Beta Alanine, L-Arginine, and Betaine. InfreRed also has an ATP Carb blend, which contains both simple and complex carbohydrates to fuel your muscles during your run. This blend includes beetroot juice, honey, and rice amylopectin among others, and is formulated for easy digestion and absorption. Runners prefer InfraRed NRG because it has an amazing taste, boosts focus, endurance, and performance through its amino acid content and many unique ingredients.
Performance Lab Pre is an excellent stimulant-free pre-workout supplement that is designed to improve your athletic performance through increasing muscle power, increasing blood flow to the muscles, and improving physical endurance. What’s in it? This pre-workout contains creatine, Cordyceps sinensis, L-citrulline, L-glutamine, L-carnosine, maritime pine bark extract, and Himalayan pink salt, all in proven effective doses.
Creatine is a naturally produced molecule in your body that enhances ATP production. Cordyceps sinensis is a fungus native to China that is thought to help improve performance by boosting supply of ATP to the muscles. Salt is an electrolyte which will help with hydration during your run. The bark extract is also known as Pycnogenol, which may improve recovery. Finally, L-citrulline, L-glutamine, and L-carnosine are amino acids that may help increase blood flow, increase production of nitric oxide, and increase tolerance to lactic acid buildup. Click on the links for more information on each.
This pre-workout contains many ingredients that are proven to have positive effects, while others, such as the maritime bark extract, have less base in science with little evidence. Overall, this is a very well-rounded supplement with high-quality ingredients, and it gets a strong recommendation from us.
Red Leaf pre-workout is a product of Integrated Sports Nutrition Company. Unlike other supplements, Red Leaf contains natural substances and a small amount of high quality ingredients which make it a preferred drink for health-conscious athletes. It comes in the tangy, unique flavors of cranberry-lime and blueberry acai. The acai flavor is awesome because it has no artificial sweeteners; it is naturally sweetened using monk fruit and stevia.
Red leaf has the following ingredients that make it effective during workouts: BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) and Amino Acids (beta-alanine, arginine alpha-ketoglutarate, and glutamine) to improve muscle recovery and decrease fatigue, cranberry and green tea for antioxidant protection, and a small amount of caffeine (40mg) to increase energy without giving you the jitters. It also contains Raspberry Ketones to improve fat burning, and contains no sugar. Athletes prefer this supplement because it has a pleasant taste, increases energy levels, uses natural ingredients, and contains no proprietary blends.
This pre-workout made by Muscle Pharm promises to enhance athletic performance, strength, stamina, and overall personal health using safe ingredients. Similar to InfraRed, it has a carbohydrate matrix containing a variety of nutrients that can be digested at different rates, fueling muscles for longer periods of time. One distinguishing ingredient in MusclePharm Assault Pre-Workout is Teacrine, which provides longer lasting (when compared to caffeine), non habit forming energy and improved focus. It also contains BCAAs, 12 Grams of Fiber, Glutamine, and digestive enzymes. It comes in many flavors such as fruit punch, blue raspberry, green apple, and strawberry ice. Because this pre-workout contains creatine and a significant amount of caffeine, it is best for your high-intensity workouts such as sprints, weight-lifting, cross-training, or parachute work.
This product from EVL has been designed to boost energy, recovery, and performance. It has a relatively simple ingredient list. 5 grams total BCAAs, 110 mg of stimulants, Beta Alanine, and Taurine. It is simple, but effective. Everything you need without any of the fluff and at an excellent price. The caffeine comes from natural sources (coffee bean and green tea extract), and the BCAAs are in a 2:1:1 ratio (Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine) to support muscle building and recovery. It has no sugar or carbs. It contains Beta-Alanine which helps in buffering lactic acid, L-Alanine which helps in glucose production, Taurine which supports hydration of cells, and a Vitamin B and C Complex that supports energy levels and the immune system.
LEGION Pulse contains no proprietary blends and every serving delivers almost 20 grams of active ingredients that improve performance. It is naturally sweetened and flavored with no artificial food dyes or fillers. Pulse is not for the faint of heart or those new to taking pre-workouts. It contains large doses of all of its ingredients, including 350mg each of caffeine and L-Theanine. This pre-workout’s goal is to increase energy, blood flow, reduce fatigue, sharpen focus and improve muscular endurance.
Pulse contains Citrulline Malate which improves muscle endurance and performance, Ornithine which reduces fatigue and burns fat, Beta-Alanine which improves anaerobic exercise capacity, Betaine which increases strength, Caffeine for mental endurance, and Theanine which reduces effects of mental and physical stress, keeping the runner alert, but not stressed. There are many studies showing the synergistic effects of pairing Theanine and caffeine, and this synergistic effect is one of our favorite things about this product.
PRE- KAGED is a unique product which has an abnormally large scoop. It contains clinically-sized doses of its ingredients. PRE-KAGED has a high caffeine content of about 274 mg which is equivalent to two cups of coffee, beta alanine to boost the muscles and endurance, citrulline to regulate blood flow, betaine, and creatine which is proven to increase muscle output. This product has a considerable amount of taurine and tyrosine to boost focus. It also includes 500mg of coconut water powder and antioxidants. For runners, this pre-workout may not be ideal, since its ingredients are tailored to weight lifting; however, a runner may find great value in taking a small amount (maybe ¼ or ⅓ of a scoop) and still see significant results while making it a great value in terms of price per use.
NitroSurge pre-workout is designed to provide a runner with energy, strength gains, and endurance. It doesn’t rely on stimulants to make you feel as if the pre-workout is working, instead it has proven performance-boosting ingredients. NitroSurge’s distinguishing factor is its AstraGin complex which includes Astragalus Root Extract and Tienchi Ginseng Root Extract.
This product from Jacked Factory has scientifically effective doses and the contents are transparently listed on the label. Its principal ingredients are Betaine, L-Citrulline, Caffeine, Beta Alanine, and Theanine. It also contains blood flow enhancing Nitric Oxide and is creatine free. This pre-workout is a great overall choice; it offers a good balance of ingredients that are sure to enhance your runs or workouts.
Xtend is a supplement consisting of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAAs are proteins, which are naturally occurring and found in food. They are used by your muscles for energy and studies suggest that BCAAs may prevent muscle breakdown during exercise. They may help reduce fatigue and ease muscle soreness. Runners may see benefits when taking BCAAs pre and intra-workout as well, especially during long runs. It is the only BCAA product that is NSF certified for sport by the USDA. The blend of amino acids include Isoleucine, Leucine, Valine, and Glutamine.
In addition, Xtend contains an electrolyte blend to keep you hydrated during your runs. This supplement does not contain carbohydrates or sugars. It is available in the market in fourteen different flavors such as grape, watermelon, and blue raspberry.
Cytomax is for runners who are looking for a product that reduces dehydration and fatigue with electrolytes. Many athletes prefer this product to Gatorade because it doesn’t upset their stomach or contain artificial colors. It also claims to help in reducing the burn of lactic acid. This product contains 22 grams of carbohydrates. The ingredients include 120 mg of sodium, 6 mg of calcium, 60 mg of magnesium, amino acids and vitamin C. Its complex carbohydrates stabilize blood sugar during your exercise without a sugar “crash”. It is also available in different flavors such as grape, tropical fruit, tangy orange, and pomegranate berry, and is very reasonably priced.
In summary, there are many great options for runners that want to supplement their workouts. Hopefully, you have learned a bit about the different ingredients and now have a better understanding on how these pre-workouts can increase your stamina, strength, and recovery; and most importantly, have gained a better understanding of how to choose the right one for you.
Remember that just because a certain pre-workout was right for someone else doesn’t mean that it will have the same desired effect on you. This is also the case with taste. Some like very strong, sweet, artificial-tasting flavors, while others prefer the opposite. For this reason, try various products and experiment until you find the right one for you.
However important these pre-workouts are to get you through a tough run, it is good to consume them in moderation. The bottom line: don’t overdo them or let them become a crutch. Remember that there is no substitute for hard work and discipline!