Traditional “pre workout” supplements are tailored mostly to people going to the gym and doing resistance training, and more specifically bodybuilding. If you’re preparing for a training run or race, you may also want to get some of the benefits of pre workout. You’ll likely want the stimulant effects from caffeine, and the blood flow effects from ingredients like beta alanine – however some of the other strength-focused ingredients may not be as beneficial.
However, just because pre workout is traditionally tailored to lifters, there are plenty of options out there for runners looking for a pre workout energy boost. If your drinking a cup of coffee before your runs, you may actually benefit more from a pre workout supplement.
Are Pre Workouts Good for Running?
Endurance athletes have specific needs that traditional pre workouts don’t necessarily account for. Ideally a pre-workout for endurance athletes would include carbohydrates for training fuel, electrolytes for hydration, and caffeine for energy and focus. While many gym-focused pre-workouts don’t meet this criteria, there are pre workout drinks made specifically for endurance athletes.
Pre workouts are designed specifically to improve athletic performance. Whether you’re lifting weights at the gym, doing circuit training at home, or going for a run pre workout will provide you with a boost of energy and possibly improve your endurance. The stimulants in pre workout will help to increase your energy levels, increase fat burning, and reduce your rate of exertion. The ingredients designed to help delay muscle fatigue and lactic acid buildup will help you run faster and farther. And finally, the nootropic ingredients will help you stay focused during your workouts, which can help you stay motivated to keep going.
As with anything in your nutrition and supplement lineup, we recommend trying out pre workout in your training, rather than on race day. If you have any digestive issues or uncomfortable response to your pre workout, then you’ll have a chance to test out some others without ruining a race you may have trained for for months.
Which Pre Workout Ingredients are Beneficial for Runners?
- Beta Alanine (β-alanine): Beta alanine is an amino acid pre-cursor to carnosine, which is a major contributor to buffering lactate build up during high-intensity exercise. This benefit has helped beta alanine see increased popularity in the sports performance world over the past few years. Multiple time CrossFit champion Mat Fraser said in an interview on The Joe Rogan Experience that beta-alanine “gives him a third lung” – which led to beta alanine sales skyrocketing. According to a meta-analysis published by the Biomedical, Life and Health Sciences Research Centre, beta-alanine provided measurable benefit in exercise performance over placebo, specifically in exercise lasting longer than 60 seconds.
- Caffeine: If you’re a caffeine addict, like me, you’re probably well-aware of the benefits of consuming caffeine before training. The benefits of caffeine for endurance training on numerous: improved mobilization of fat stores, reduced rate of perceived exertion, delayed muscle glycogen depletion, and even improved recovery. According to an article in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, athletic performance in a time trial setting was improved by 3.2-4.3% on average. While this may seem like a negligible benefit, keep in mind that in a 60 minute time trial, this could equate to an improvement of more than two minutes.
- Nootropics: Nootropics are natural or synthetics substances that can help improve mental performance. These substances are typically used in more mentally strenuous tasks, but they have also started to gain popularity in other areas such as athletic training and performance. Caffeine is actually classified as a nootropic because of its stimulating effects on the central nervous system. There are a number of other nootropic ingredients that can help boost performance. L-theanine, for example, is a nootropic that is found in many pre-workouts. L-theanine has a calming effect which can help diminish some of the negative side effects of taking too much caffeine.
Endurance Focused Pre Workouts
There are pre workout supplements specifically tailored to endurance athletes. These are typically more focused on hydration and fueling rather than the stimulant and pump effects most pre workout buyers are looking for.