Best Pre Workout Supplements for Running

By | May 31, 2016

best pre workout for runningPre workout supplements and running is a hot topic at best and can often inspire rather heated debate. Some people are staunch advocates, some are dead set 150% against it but I think that for most people it is not that important to them and they remain indifferent. Personally I land somewhere between indifferent and staunch advocate, though it is safe to say that I am pro pre workout so in reality my position is much closer to the staunch advocate end of the scale. In this post I aim to give you, the reader, enough information to make your own informed decision though I must warn you now that the information I present will most likely be biased by my own personal opinions. As with the best anything, what happens to be the best pre workout supplement for running in my case is not going to be the same for everyone else, so in addition to the general information and tips of combining pre workout with running I will also provide my recommendations on what I believe are the top 3 pre workout products for running.

Run Forrest, Run!

Running is an activity that brings about mixed emotions in many people. Say the word ‘run’ and some people (oh so ironically) will run for their lives in terror. There are other people however, who will be like “oh hell yeah, I’ll go put on my $300 runners, let’s go!” Years ago I would cower in the corner if I so much as even thought about running. I transitioned from this to “I hate every single thing about this but I’ll give it a go.” I then progressed to a state of belligerent tolerance and then moved onto “this is actually not so bad.” Nowadays I am fairly stable at “running is great, but only when I am in the mood. All other times are painful.”

So for me, unless I am in the exact right mood where I want to run (say if I am being chased by a bear) then I need to trick myself with some sort of reward or stimulation. This is where pre workout drinks come into it. You are most likely different, except for the bear. I think most people would find themselves in the mood to run if they are chased by a bear. Anyway………In order to determine whether introducing a pre workout supplement to your running routine is a good idea, it may be helpful to think a bit about how and why you run.

Why do You Run?

Have you ever thought about what it is that actually makes you decide to get out there and pound the pavement? Is it part of the training you do for your sport? Is it a fitness thing? Are you being chased by a bear? Maybe it is just something that you enjoy. Whatever the reason, keep it in mind as you read n about what a pre workout can do for you.

When and Where Do You Run?

I can’t speak for anyone else but for me this is important. When I run it is usually early in the morning and it is very often cold and sometimes it is even dark as well. Under these conditions, my brain presents me with countless reasons why it is a good idea to do pretty much anything other than get dressed and go outside to run. Also, if I have to get in the car and travel somewhere in order to run then that makes it harder again. It is only pre workout that gets me through this.

Olympics or Fun Run?

How good at running are you? I myself am not very good at running and need all the help I can get. I would like to get better though as I think I would enjoy it more then, so in order to fast track my progress I use a pre workout to give myself a performance boost.

It’s All In the Head

For many people, particularly myself, the hardest part of running is the mental battle. I find it boring and tedious at the best of times and I find that I am acutely aware if the slightest bit of physical discomfort I experience while running. When the surf is good however, I can paddle for hours and barely notice that my shoulders are burning the whole time. The same with sports – if I am chasing a ball or something then I can run for ages and barely notice it. I find running for the sake of running really difficult though.

Pre Workout Power!

Pre workout Supplements have been around for quite some time now, and they have typically been intended to improve people’s experience in the gym, and the results they get from working out. In my mind, the benefits that they can provide to the bodybuilder or average Joe lifting weights are just as beneficial to the guy or girl sprinting round the field or jogging through the park. I will give a quick overview of these benefits below, but if you would like more detail here is some background information on pre workout supplements.

Mental Benefits of Pre Workout Supplementation

runningFor people like me that really struggle with the mental aspect of running, this is where pre workout drinks really add value to the situation. Most good pre workout drinks will have some kind of mood enhancing/nootropic component to boost mental focus and motivation. For me, this is what makes the difference between putting my runners on and heading outside or getting back into my nice warm bed. Related: check out my post on The Best Pre Workout Supplements for Mental Focus.

In addition to this many products also contain a variety of stimulants. This is the main factor to consider when deciding which pre workout to take before running. Caffeine is the most commonly used stimulant and some products have anywhere up to 375mg per serve, which is the equivalent of 5 Tall cappuccinos from Starbucks! I’m not a doctor but to me it seems obvious that this will put your heart rate through the roof and if you are anything like me then running will also boost your heart rate into outer space so combining the two has got to be a bad idea. I think a small amount of caffeine gives a good little energy kick without risking a heart attack so I never take a product with high caffeine before a run.

Related: there are strictly caffeine free pre workouts available too, if that’s your thing.

Physical Benefits of Pre Workout Supplementation

The other good thing about pre workouts is that most of them contain ingredients to help boost your muscular performance, endurance, blood flow, and recovery. All of these things are important parameters when it comes to running and improving any one of them can help improve your times/distances. You can check here for some information on some of the most common ingedients in pre workout supplements and the way that they can improve performance.

My Top 3 Best Pre Workout Supplements for Running

So you see how pre workout supplements are almost mandatory for me when it comes to running. My favorite 3 are as follows, in no particular order:

Cellucor C4 Extreme

This is like the coca cola of pre workout products. It has been around for a long time and it’s popularity stays constant. It does contain caffeine but there is a relatively modest 160mg in one serve. For more details check out my Cellucor C4 Extreme Pre Workout Review 

Cellucor C4 Extreme Pre Workout Supplement
One of the best selling pre workout supplements of all time! Try it for yourself and see why!

Evogen EVP Pre Workout Supplement

This is lesser known but top quality caffeine free pre workout supplement. Sometimes when it is a bit cold a like to have a hot coffee before I run and on those days I like to use the EVP. This product is geared more towards increasing your physical performance and would be good for someone looking for a physical boost. More details in my Evogen EVP Pre Workout Review .

EVOGEN EVP pre workout

Cardio Igniter by Top Secret Nutrition

This is a great product and depending why you run it may be exactly what you are looking for. If you are running purely for exercise and to lose weight/keep trim then this is the product for you. Rather than being a straight pre workout or a straight fat burner it is more like a hybrid combination of the two. This would have to be one of the only products in the thermogenic/fat burner category that don’t jack your heart rate up too high. In December and January (think Christmas waist expansion) this is all I use. Extra info in my Cardio Igniter pre workout review. 

Top Secret Nutrition Cardio Igniter
Use it for cardio or lifting or both. Try it yourself and see why so many people are raving about it!

Run, Forrest, Run!


4 thoughts on “Best Pre Workout Supplements for Running

  1. Lucas

    Hi there,

    In my opinion, many pre-workouts shouldn’t be used for running because a lot of them contain pump enhancers and NO amplifiers. These ingredients are designed for weight lifters, and i’m not sure what the benefit of these ingredients would be for a runner. If an energy boost is all that is wanted, I would just use good old fashioned coffee!

    Take care!

    1. Brad Post author

      Hi Lucas,

      Pump enhancers and NO amplifiers are the same thing – they are effectively facilitating vasodilation to enable increased blood flow. This article may help give you an understanding of it Best Pre Workout Supplements for Maximizing Pump.

      This can certainly be beneficial to running as it enables more efficient transport of fuel, oxygen and waste through the body. Also, be careful not to have too much coffee as it is primarily stimulating your central nervous system and increasing your heart rate.

      Happy running!

  2. Gary

    It’s been a long time since I’ve done any running. The mental battle was the hardest part for me too. I didn’t use any supplements, but I definitely could have used a boost. I recently started working out again on an elliptical. I like to mix in some weight lifting also. I think I would try the Cardio Igniter. Would that be a good choice? I wouldn’t want a lot of caffeine. Thanks for this information. I’ll be back.


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