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The best pre-workout supplement can enhance energy, power, and cognition as you… run? 

Although you might not associate your favorite gym juice with longer distances and faster paces, pre-workout powders aren’t just for bodybuilders. You may find that the best pre-workout for running lands in your training bag alongside intra-workout carbohydrates and a post-recovery protein shake.

As a registered dietitian, I teamed up with our expert product testers—from a triathlete to a certified personal trainer to a USA Weightlifting L-2 coach—to evaluate dozens of pre-workouts for this list. We go the extra mile and analyze factors such as:

  • Formulation: Does it include scientifically-backed ingredients and dosages?
  • Third-party testing: Can we trust that the label is accurate and the product is pure?
  • Taste: Is it enjoyable, or at least drinkable, with multiple flavor options?
  • Price per serving: Does it align with the market average, or at least provide value?

While you’ll run into more details about our methodology ahead, let’s start strategizing your newest pre-run ritual. On your mark, get set, let’s go!

Medical disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. For health advice, contact a licensed healthcare provider.

Best Pre-Workout for Running

Best Pre-Workout for Running Overall: 1st Phorm Endura-Formance

Good for: Those looking for an effective and innovative pre-workout without caffeine 

Best Overall

1st Phorm Endura-Formance

GGR Score: 4.2 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Combines creatine and beta-alanine 
  • Enhances strength, power, and endurance
  • Increases muscle hydration 
  • Promotes oxygen and nutrient delivery to muscles
  • Available in four flavors

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Added creatine
  • Reportedly effective
  • No caffeine
  • No jitters or post-workout crash
  • Includes PeakO2 adaptogen blend

Cons

  • Taste is not for everyone
  • Sucralose included

Bottom Line

Endura-Formance is formulated with all the key ingredients one would look for in a pre-workout drink. While the taste is not for everyone, most users experienced improved performance at the gym.

With a name like “Endura-Formance,” it’s bound to go one of two ways: 1) It’s gimmicky, or 2) It actually works. Given that it landed on our best supplements for runners round-up and with our tester telling us, “I really feel like this helps my training sessions, particularly running,” we’ll bet on the latter. Let’s check it out!

Endura-Formance features evidence-based pre-workout ingredients and patented blends unique to 1st Phorm. Our tester, Amanda Capritto—a certified sports nutrition coach, triathlete, and former GGR senior staff writer—enthuses, “I love taking this before all types of workouts, but especially endurance workouts since it has ample sodium.” Each serving provides 195 milligrams of sodium and 72 milligrams of potassium, two electrolytes1 critical for fluid balance and hydration. The sodium content may fall short of the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) recommendation2 of consuming 300 to 600 milligrams per hour during prolonged exercise, but it can complement dietary sources or the best electrolyte powders.

Amanda continues, “It also contains the clinical dosage of creatine, which is awesome to see, plus beta-alanine, betaine anhydrous, and L-tyrosine, all great pre-workout ingredients.” Each serving provides 5 grams of creatine monohydrate, the most effective supplement for increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during training, according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN)3.  While the ISSN notes that weight gain might be a detriment for runners, the long-term benefits of creatine, such as improved training quality, may outweigh this concern.

A scoop and tub of 1st-Phorm Endura-formance.

Beta-alanine4 may benefit runners by enhancing muscular endurance, time to exhaustion, and power output when taken before exercise. A 2018 study5 shows it improves 10-kilometer time trials and reduces lactate in active adults. Though the typical 3.2-gram dose is slightly below the ISSN’s 4- to 6-gram recommendation, dividing doses throughout the day can prevent its common side effect of itching. 

Endura-Formance also includes 2.5 grams of betaine6, which may enhance muscle endurance, recovery, and creatine levels. Its 1 gram of tyrosine7, an amino acid, may boost focus during training sessions. 

Unique to 1st Phorm, you’ll get the patented compounds PeakO2 and S7. Amanda elaborates, “PeakO2 is a patented compound that may increase oxygen utilization while decreasing lactate, a combo that results in greater work capacity. S7 is a blend of 7 nutraceuticals clinically shown to increase nitric oxide production by up to 230% (!).”

A downside of the formula is the use of artificial sweeteners and flavors, which led us to deduct points for a final rating of 3.75 out of 5 in the formula category. However, Amanda tried Berry Lemonade and rated it a 4.5 out of 5 for flavor. She highlighted its perfect sweet and tart balance without an off-putting aftertaste and said she would 100% order again.

One note about repeat ordering: While you can subscribe, the “and save” part is missing. The one-time purchase price of $44.99 ($1.50 per serving) remains the same, and the only difference with the subscription is selecting your delivery frequency, resulting in a 3-out-of-5 score for price. 

Check out our 1st Phorm Endura-Formance Review for more details.

Price per serving$1.50
Notable ingredients Creatine, beta-alanine, betaine anhydrous, L-tyrosine, PeakO2™ (cordyceps, reishi, king trumpet, shiitake, lion’s mane, turkey tail), S7® (green coffee bean extract, green tea extract, turmeric extract, tart cherry, blueberry, broccoli, kale), sodium, potassium 
FlavorsBerry Lemonade, Black Cherry, Peach Ring, Strawberry Pineapple
Third-party tested? Yes

Best Stim-Free Pre-Workout for Running: Transparent Labs Stim-Free

Good for: Runners chasing athletic performance benefits without stimulants 

Best Stim-Free

Transparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4.08 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Stim-free pre-workout
  • No caffeine
  • 7 flavors available
  • Easily mix with water
  • Good for people who work out at night
  • Won't give you the jitters or tingling sensations

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Free of artificial colors, sweeteners, and other additives
  • Non-stim (no caffeine)
  • Won't give you the jitters
  • Designed to increase nitric oxide uptake in the muscle cells
  • Can subscribe and save

Cons

  • Those who want caffeine should look elsewhere
  • Doesn't contain creatine or BCAAs

Bottom Line

Transparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout is an uncaffeinated pre-workout powder that will not give you the jitters or tingling commonly associated with pre-workout supplements. This pre-workout contains a blend of citrulline malate, beta-alanine, L-tyrosine, taurine, and elevATP, a compound claimed to increase ATP activity in muscle cells.

Some runners avoid caffeine to prevent jitters and stomach issues (#IYKYK). Enter Transparent Labs Stim-Free pre-workout, designed to enhance pumps and focus without caffeine. Ranked as the best stim-free pre-workout, let’s explore what it might offer for your next run.

Diving into its formulation, we quickly noticed its evidence-based dose of 8,000 milligrams of citrulline malate8—a combination of L-citrulline (a non-essential amino acid) and malate. Citrulline malate boosts nitric oxide production, vasodilation, and blood flow, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to reach your muscles. It may also reduce muscle soreness, which is crucial when recovery time is limited, such as in track and field events.

You’ll also benefit from 1,300 milligrams of taurine, a “very essential” amino acid9 abundant in muscle tissue that may enhance muscle contraction and reduce muscle damage. A 2022 meta-analysis10 suggests that taurine lowers heart rate before exercise and enhances end-test power output, positively affecting sprint performance.

Each scoop provides research-based doses of beta-alanine and BetaPure betaine anhydrous to reduce lactic acid build-up and improve muscle endurance. Additionally, the formula includes huperzine A11 and tyrosine6, two nootropics12—also known as “cognitive enhancers”—to boost alertness and focus. ElevATP13 may help your body produce more adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to power muscle contractions, while Senactiv may improve exercise endurance, recovery, and energy.

A woman can be seen smiling behind a shake and container of Transparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout.

Each serving also contains 150 milligrams of sodium and 100 milligrams of potassium to support hydration and protect from muscle cramps. Thanks to its piperine14 content, BioPerine may enhance the absorption of these minerals, particularly potassium, and other nutrients, while offering anti-inflammatory properties. 

Former GGR Senior Staff Writer Amanda Capritto, CPT, CSNC, shares, “Because this is non-stim, there’s no energy boost, but the taurine and tyrosine combo helps with focus.” Regarding its taste, she gave Cherry Limeade a score of 4.5 out of 5, stating, “I tried Cherry Limeade, and it’s really good—not overly sweet, which I appreciate. I usually dilute powdered supplements because they’re too sweet for me, but I didn’t have to do that with this one.”

Although Amanda rated its cost 2.85 out of 5, its nearly perfect formulation and taste ratings might justify the price. Plus, it boasts stellar transparency: Each product undergoes third-party testing for purity, ensuring that what you see on the label is exactly what you get. 

Read our full Transparent Labs Stim-Free Pre-Workout review for more details.

Price per serving$1.66
Notable ingredients BetaPure™ betaine anhydrous, taurine, L-tyrosine, SenActiv®, elevATP®, BioPerine®, huperzine A, Himalayan sea salt, potassium chloride
FlavorsBlue Raspberry, Cherry Limeade, Orange, Peach Mango, Sour Grape, Strawberry Lemonade, Tropical Punch
Third-party tested? Yes

Best Pre-Workout for Running With Electrolytes: Gainful Hydration + Caffeine

Good for: Runners looking for additional hydration and energy support

Best With Electrolytes

Gainful Hydration

GGR Score: 4.06 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Customized electrolyte packets
  • Caffeinated and non-caffeinated options
  • Free access to registered dietitians
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Three flavors: Tropical Mango, Strawberry Lemonade, Lemon Lime

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • You can customize the electrolytes to your needs
  • Comes in caffeinated and non-caffeinated versions
  • Positive reviews about taste
  • All-natural ingredients
  • Grants you access to a dietitian

Cons

  • Missing chloride, an essential electrolyte

Bottom Line

Gainful Hydration is a customizable electrolyte supplement that can be tailor-made for your needs, such as increasing the amount of sodium or having a caffeinated version for an extra energy boost.

Gainful Hydration + Caffeine is not your typical pre-workout and is actually among the best electrolyte drinks. However, GGR Head of Content Nicole Davis, a certified nutrition coach, personal trainer, and avid runner, reassures us it’s more than just a one-trick pony: “I’ve really been enjoying these as a pre-workout before my runs! I’m not a huge sweater, but now that it’s summer, I definitely sweat more than usual. I chug one of these about 20 minutes before I head out, and I feel like it makes a big difference both in hydration and energy.”

Each caffeinated packet provides 150 milligrams of caffeine, the amount in  about one and a half cups of coffee, to enhance energy levels. While caffeine-free packets are available, Nicole prefers the caffeinated option, stating, “I really like the energy boost they give me.” Its 250 milligrams of L-theanine also complement the caffeine to enhance focus. 

Gainful’s electrolyte profile also depends on how you customize your supplement. You can choose between “A Little Sweaty” and “Super Sweaty.” The first option provides 300 milligrams of sodium and 150 milligrams of magnesium, while the latter supplies 400 milligrams of sodium and 200 milligrams of magnesium. Both options provide 150 milligrams of potassium and 50 milligrams of calcium.

However, Nicole suggests it could use more sodium, especially since it’s an electrolyte mix, and rates the formula a 3 out of 5. The current options may fall short for endurance athletes with higher electrolyte needs and the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM)2 general guideline of obtaining 300 to 600 milligrams per hour of training.  While you could double up on the 300-milligram packets, it would cost almost $3.00 per hour, adding up as quickly as the miles do. We already rated the price per serving a 3 out of 5, so that certainly wouldn’t help its cause.

But Gainful’s taste and solubility is where it shines, with Nicole awarding it a perfect 5 rating for each. “I tried Tropical Mango in the ‘A Little Sweaty’ variation, and I think it’s great. Not overly sweet or salty. It doesn’t give mango 100%, but it’s tropical and good for the summertime. Plus, it mixes well with 12 ounces of water.” 

Moreover, enhancing the palatability of fluids can improve the match between fluid intake and sweat output. Nicole might’ve found her match, proclaiming, “This is one product I’ll definitely keep using.”

Price per serving$1.43 per packet
Notable ingredients Caffeine, sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium
FlavorsLemon Lime, Strawberry Lemonade, Tropical Mango
Third-party tested? No (not all electrolyte powders are considered a supplement, so third-party testing isn’t warranted)

Best Natural Pre-Workout for Running: Legion Pulse

Good for: People looking for a 100% all-natural formulation with (or without) caffeine 

Best Natural

Legion Athletics Pulse Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 3.825 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • 100% nature-based
  • Free from added sugar, food dyes, and other chemicals
  • Full refund if not satisfied
  • Can get with or without caffeine
  • 15 flavors available

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • All natural ingredients
  • Free from dye and chemicals
  • Naturally sweetened
  • Intended to avoid the dreaded crash
  • Full refund if not satisfied
  • Can get with or without caffeine
  • 15 flavors available

Cons

  • Natural sweeteners make for a different taste—it may not be your cup of tea
  • Only 21 servings per tub

Bottom Line

Formulated with all-natural ingredients, each of which are present at a high level, Pulse is a fan-favorite. If you’re trying to avoid artificial flavors and chemicals, this may be a good choice.

Legion Pulse pre-workout might be for you if you prioritize all-natural ingredients. It’s free of artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, and other “chemical junk” while offering extensive flavor options. Don’t worry, these perks don’t compromise its effectiveness! 

We rate Pulse’s formulation a solid 4 out of 5 for providing natural ingredients in effective doses, including 8 grams of citrulline malate to support muscular endurance and recovery through nitric oxide production. You’ll also get 3.6 grams of beta-alanine and 2.5 grams of betaine for muscle endurance, along with 300 milligrams of alpha-glycerophosphocholine15 (alpha-GPC) that may enhance mind-muscle connections and natural growth hormone production. And let’s not forget the 400 milligrams of sodium and 440 milligrams of potassium per serving to replenish electrolytes lost in sweat.

But where Legion turns heads is its hearty 350 milligrams of caffeine16, the world’s most widely consumed stimulant known for enhancing alertness and reducing fatigue. A 2023 systematic review17 suggests that consuming 200 to 400 milligrams of caffeine an hour before running improves endurance performance by up to 7% and may benefit endurance running events. 

Legion-Pulse

The 350 milligrams of L-theanine18 may enhance caffeine’s cognitive benefits, which our tester Jacob Penner, a USA Weightlifting L-2 coach, appreciates. “I like the 1:1 ratio of L-theanine to caffeine here—it gives you a really balanced experience,” he says. “Every time I use this, I feel energized but not over-stimulated.” 

If 350 milligrams of caffeine is more than you bargained for, they offer a non-stim alternative. You can also half the scoop. Although you won’t get the effective doses of additional ingredients, you’d still get a good amount of each with a half-serving. Plus, halving would double the 20-serving container and offset its 2 out of 5 rating for the high price of $1.71 per serving.  

Opinions on taste will inevitably vary, but Jacob gave it a solid 4 out of 5. He notes, “It’s slightly bitter at the end, but I actually like it because it doesn’t taste artificial or overly sweet.”

Price per serving$2.25
Notable ingredients Citrulline malate, beta-alanine, caffeine, L-theanine
FlavorsArctic Blast, Blood Orange, Blue Raspberry, Blueberry Lemonade, Cherry Limeade, Frosted Cranberry, Fruit Punch, Grape, Green Apple, Mojito, Peach Ring, Piña Colada, Pink Lemonade, Rainbow Sherbet, Sour Candy, Strawberry Kiwi, Strawberry Margarita, Tropical Punch, Watermelon
Third-party tested? Yes

Best Budget Pre-Workout for Running: Nutricost Pre-X Pre-Workout

Good for: Those who want an effective pre-workout without running into budgeting troubles

Best Budget

Nutricost Pre-X Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 4.14 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Pre-workout formula with B vitamins
  • 300 mg of caffeine per serving
  • About $1 per serving
  • Third-party tested
  • 5 flavor options

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Contains B vitamins
  • Gluten-free and non-GMO
  • Affordable price per serving

Cons

  • Not enough research to support the ingredients that claim to support cognitive function
  • Caffeine content may be too much for some folks

Bottom Line

Nutricost Pre-X is an affordable pre-workout at about $1 per serving. There are five flavors to choose from, each with a light and refreshing taste. Each serving contains 300 milligrams of caffeine, which is equivalent to about 3 cups of coffee.

Nutricost Pre-X is currently priced between $0.57 and $0.83 per serving on Amazon, with variations based on container size (30 or 60 servings) and subscription options. Despite routine fluctuations on Amazon, the highest price observed is around $1.00 per serving, making it an excellent value no matter your budget, earning a price rating of 4.5 out of 5. Affordable doesn’t mean compromising quality; its formulation, taste, and solubility scored impressively well, so let’s see what this budget-friendly pre-workout offers.

Each scoop of Nutricost Pre-X delivers a robust blend of the best pre-workout ingredients. It includes stimulants and nootropics like caffeine, alpha-GPC, theobromine19, l-tyrosine, DMAE bitartrate20, CDP choline, and huperzine A for enhanced energy and focus. It features L-citrulline and Nitrosigine21 for nitric oxide boosting to improve blood flow and nutrient delivery to muscles. 

Beta-alanine, betaine anhydrous, and taurine are included to enhance muscular endurance, power output, and recovery. The lower 2-gram dose of beta-alanine may help you avoid that itchy feeling, just remember to supplement again to meet the 4 to 6 grams per day recommendation for maximum benefits. The inclusion of B vitamins22—niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12—aid energy production and may improve endurance while reducing muscle fatigue.

Man drinking Nutricost Pre-X Pre-Workout

We rated its formula a solid 4 out of 5, deducting points due to underdosed beta-alanine, use of artificial ingredients, and mix of stimulants. However, its stimulant blend might not concern some, including our tester Jacob Penner, a USA Weightlifting L-2 coach, who says, “I took just one scoop initially, and it didn’t have a huge energy effect on me. So the next time, I took a scoop and a half. I have a high tolerance for caffeine and have used high-stim pre-workouts. With this, I felt motivated and focused to finish my workout, but I wasn’t overstimulated.” Mileage will vary, but this makes it a suitable option for those with a higher tolerance for stimulants.

Jacob also praised the flavor, rating it a 4.5 out of 5. “I really enjoy it; I have always liked the Nutricost pre-workout for the taste,” he says. “They do a really good job. Even with the reformulation, the taste is really good. I remember liking the watermelon a lot, as well.” The solubility was nearly perfect, earning a 4.5 out of 5, though a few beads were left floating at the top.

Price per serving$0.83
Notable ingredients Caffeine, L-citrulline, beta-alanine: taurine, Nitrosigine, betaine anhydrous, N-acetyl L-tyrosine, alpha-GPC, DMAE bitartrate, choline, theobromine, huperzine A, vitamins B6 and B12
FlavorsBlue Raspberry, Grape, Watermelon, Peach Mango, Fruit Punch
Third-party tested? Yes

Best Sugar-Free Pre-Workout for Running: Alyne Pre-Workout

Good for: Runners who want a natural pre-workout without added sugars and artificial sweeteners

Best Sugar-Free

Alyne Pre-Workout

GGR Score: 3.6 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Natural pre-workout
  • 190 mg of caffeine per serving
  • No sugar, sugar alcohols, stevia, or artificial additives
  • Contains nootropics and electrolytes
  • Third-party tested

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No artificial additives
  • Individually packed
  • Third-party tested

Cons

  • Only 1 flavor
  • Slightly under-dosed in l-citrulline
  • No creatine
  • Expensive

Bottom Line

Alyne pre-workout is a natural pre-workout option for those who try to avoid artificial ingredients and sugar. It offers 190 milligrams of caffeine per serving, plus l-citrulline, beta-alanine, electrolytes, and nootropics. Although this is very expensive at $3 per serving, if you're looking for a natural option, this is solid.

Alyne combines 15 active ingredients—from nootropics, vitamins, electrolytes, amino acids,  and fruits—to deliver jitter-free energy, focus, and endurance. It’s free of sugar, stevia, or sugar alcohols, which makes it appealing to runners who prefer to consume natural sugars from whole foods or experience digestive issues from artificial sweeteners. Let’s explore what Alyne offers to ensure it meets your needs (and budget).

To enhance concentration and focus, Alyne includes a variety of well-dosed nootropics, such as L-tyrosine, alpha GPC, lion’s mane mushroom, and huperzine A. It also contains 190 milligrams of caffeine from green tea, which may be suitable for some and insufficient for others. For those who prefer a moderate caffeine intake, the 100 milligrams of L-theanine helps provide a calm focus without the jitters.

Each serving provides the amino acids L-citrulline and beta-alanine to support endurance and muscle performance. Alyne also offers various vitamins and electrolytes. Vitamin C supports collagen production, immune health, and iron absorption, enhancing athletic performance23, while its B vitamins support energy production. Sodium and potassium help replenish electrolytes lost in sweat and support hydration, though they may not suffice for over an hour of intense training.

To enhance flavor and boost vitamin and antioxidant content, Alyne uses a fruit blend, including beetroot powder, which may increase nitric oxide levels. However, the specific amounts of each fruit ingredient are not disclosed, making its efficacy unclear. Nonetheless, we rate its formulation a solid 4 out of 5.

On the downside, the pre-workout only comes in Berry Kiwi Lemonade and is quite pricey at $3.00 per serving, resulting in a 1-out-of-5 rating for price. On the upside, Alyne offers new customers convenient pouches and free samples, allowing you to try them before committing to a purchase. 

Alyne undergoes third-party testing and complies with WADA and NCAA’s list of banned substances, making it a trusty option for athletes.

Price per serving$3.00
Notable ingredientsL-tyrosine, alpha-GPC, lion’s mane mushroom, huperzine A, caffeine, L-theanine, L-citrulline, beta-alanine, vitamin C, B vitamins, sodium, potassium, beetroot powder, monk fruit, acerola cherry powder, black pepper fruit extract
FlavorsBerry Kiwi Lemonade
Third-party tested?Yes

Other Pre-Workouts for Running We Researched

There are countless pre-workouts, and several can support your runs just like our top six picks. Here are a few more worth considering:

Genius Pre Pre Workout

How We Picked and Tested the Best Pre-Workout for Running

As seasoned triathletes and avid runners, we’re diligent and intentional about how we narrowed down our list. We lean on our trusty GGR supplement testing methodology to make our selection after analyzing these factors: 

Efficacious Ingredients and Doses

A pre-workout is only as good as its formulation, so we seek products with evidence-based ingredients and doses that research supports. We also prioritized effective ingredients for running performance9, including beta-alanine, caffeine, and taurine. 

Flavor

Some runners might savor the nostalgic taste of Fruit Punch, while others might enjoy the tropical vibes of Strawberry Margarita. Our top picks include diverse flavors to cater to this wide range of preferences.

Solubility

Nobody likes a clumpy pre-workout drink, so we always consider how well it dissolves and blends. We aim to choose smooth, consistent options without vigorous, lengthy mixing times.

Cost

We strongly believe cost should not be between you and your fitness journey. That’s why we offer diverse products to fit every budget, ensuring you get the fuel you need to reach your goals without compromising value.

A woman drinking RAW Nutrition Pump Pre-Workout.

Customer Reviews and Experience

The GGR team rigorously tests and reviews every product we recommend, but we also want to ensure that other customers have a positive experience. We also analyze customer reviews from third-party sites like Amazon to maintain objectivity, reducing potential biases from brand sites.

Side Effects

Common and potential side effects of pre-workouts include digestive issues, nausea, jitters, tingling, and shaking, which can make for an unpleasant training session. Our GGR expert testers assess these side effects through personal use and customer reviews, giving preference to products with minimal or no adverse effects.

Third-Party Testing

Has the product undergone testing by an independent third-party lab? If it claims to be gluten-free, does it bear the Certified Gluten-Free label? Given the loose regulations surrounding supplements, we prioritize and diligently review the verifications and certifications of every product we test.

Benefits of Pre-Workout for Running

Incorporating a pre-workout supplement into your running routine can enhance various aspects of your training. Here’s how:

  • Increases energy: The energy-boosting properties of caffeine17 can improve both sprint and aerobic performances, helping you push through tough workouts.
  • Promotes hydration: Mixing pre-workout supplements with at least 6 ounces of water helps you stay hydrated and get an extra dose of fluids. Some pre-workout products include electrolytes1, further enhancing hydration.
  • Enhances exercise performance and recovery: Key ingredients like beta-alanine4 and betaine6 improve muscular endurance and power, optimizing your training sessions. Additionally, citrulline malate8 and other nitric oxide boosters increase the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscles, enhancing performance and recovery.
  • Increases focus: Stimulants and nootropics12 in pre-workouts enhance focus, keeping you dialed into your training. Combining caffeine and L-theanine18 in some products can amplify cognitive benefits while reducing the chance of jitters.

Dosing and Interactions 

Consult your doctor or dietitian before taking pre-workout, especially if you take prescription medications, as some ingredients may cause harmful interactions. Additionally, individuals with cardiovascular disease or hypertension should be cautious, as caffeine can elevate heart rate and other ingredients may increase blood flow. 

A woman is shown drinking from a shaker cup.

Third-Party Testing

Since dietary supplements aren’t FDA-regulated, it’s crucial for an independent third-party lab to verify that a pre-workout formula matches its label, especially for athletes subject to drug testing. Equally important is transparency—seek companies that provide Certificates of Analysis (COAs), avoid proprietary blends, and are open about their ingredients and purposes.

Buying Guide: What to Look for in Pre-Workouts for Running

Whether you’re beginning your pre-workout journey or simply want to try something new, here’s what to look for in a pre-workout for running to best support your training: 

Formulation

Pre-workout formulations can significantly vary, so choose one that aligns with your training goals. Consider what you need and want, whether electrolytes for hot or extended runs, caffeine for an energy boost, or nootropics to improve mental focus. 

Also, consider any other supplements you’re already using. For example, you might not need a pre-workout with extra electrolytes if you already have a favorite sports drink.

Flavor

Choose a flavor you’ll enjoy, as palatability encourages consistent fluid intake. If you’re deciding between two pre-workouts, consider trying the one with more flavor options, like Legion Pulse over Alyne. Legion’s wide range of flavors gives you more choices if you enjoy the effects but not the initial flavor, unlike Alyne, which offers only one option.

Price

When budgeting for a pre-workout supplement, consider the other essentials you need or want for running, such as shoes, apparel, and recovery tools. Most high-quality running shoes last between 300 to 500 miles, or up to six months if you run an average of 20 miles per week, so the cost can quickly add up as the miles do.

Certifications

We recommend prioritizing third-party-tested supplements and certifications that align with your specific needs. For instance, competitive athletes subject to drug testing should opt for products certified free of banned substances, like those verified by Informed Sport. 

FAQs About Pre-Workouts for Running

Are pre-workouts good for running?

Pre-workouts can benefit running thanks to ingredients that enhance athletic performance. They often contain caffeine, which boosts energy levels, beta-alanine to improve muscular endurance, and electrolytes to aid hydration. These components can collectively help you run longer and feel more energized during your sessions.

What is the best pre-workout for long-distance runners?

While pre-workouts should complement, not replace, running fuel for long runs, following some general guidelines can help you choose the right one. Look for options that include essential electrolytes like sodium and potassium, aiming for at least 300 milligrams per hour of exercise. Additionally, common pre-workout ingredients like caffeine, L-theanine, and beta-alanine can boost energy, endurance, and focus to push through those longer runs.

What is the best supplement to take before running?

Choosing the best supplement to take before running depends on your specific needs and the nature of your training session. If you’re looking for a quick energy boost, a carb-rich gel is ideal for convenience and efficiency. For long-distance runs or hot weather conditions, a high-dose electrolyte powder like LMNT can help you maintain proper hydration and prevent cramping. However, if your nutrition and hydration are already well-balanced, you might not need any supplement, though an effectively dosed pre-workout could be just what you need for an extra kick.

Is it good to take C4 before running?

Taking C4 before running can be beneficial due to its key ingredients—like caffeine, beta-alanine, and other ergogenic compounds—that help enhance endurance and reduce fatigue. However, some doses are low, including L-citrulline to improve blood flow, but its arginine25 content may compensate for this as a nitric oxide booster.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.

References

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  2. Veniamakis E, Kaplanis G, Voulgaris P, et al. Effects of Sodium Intake on Health and Performance in Endurance and Ultra-Endurance Sports. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19(6):3651. Published 2022 Mar 19. doi:10.3390/ijerph19063651
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