Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED

There’s a lot of information about how to run longer, and one of those suggestions includes the need for pre-workout supplements for caffeine.

A pre-workout could help your running. But a lot of pre-workout supplements don’t have the right ingredients or are a total scam.

I went and looked at the best pre-workout supplements to see if they lived up to their claims. Here’s what I found based on my in depth research.

Our Top Pre-Workouts for Running

1 - Performance Lab Sport Pre-Workout (Editor's Choice)

Performance Lab Pre Workout

Performance Lab’s Pre-Workout was recommended to me by a colleague. I initially liked it because it had a lot of amino acids to support the body.

It also has unique ingredients like Himalayan pink salt to help with hydration.

I decided to take this pre-workout supplement before my long run. I could feel my blood flow and heart rate increase as I ran. It was a significant energy boost.

Pros
  • Energy boost
  • Helped muscle endurance
  • Contains unique ingredients
Cons
  • Four capsules are one serving

The only inconvenience was that one serving is four capsules. It seems like a lot to take at once.

2 - Transparent Labs Preseries BULK Pre-Workout

Transparent labs thumb

Transparent Labs’ Pre-Workout supplement has almost 2,000 5-star customer reviews on their website. I tried out it to see why so many people thought this was the best pre-workout.

I was surprised that creatine is not in this pre-workout. The company claims that they excluded it because the caffeine prevented it from working correctly.

I didn’t think this product would help my muscle gains without it though.

Pros
  • Lots of happy customers
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Contains Testosterone Support
Cons
  • No creatine

3 - NitroSurge Pre-Workout

Nitrosurge Pre Workout Product

It’s another pre-workout supplement that doesn’t contain creatine.

Instead, the company replaced it with Betaine Anhydrous, which aids with strength and muscle recovery.

I tried it anyway, and I liked the blue raspberry flavor because it had a subtle sweet taste. I also liked how it was easy to mix and dissolved quickly.

Pros
  • Good-tasting flavors
  • No jittery feelings
  • Energy boosted
Cons
  • If you’re not used to fruity flavors, you might not like this

I didn’t get a jittery feeling as I do with other pre-workout supplements, and I did feel a boost of energy.

4 - Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre workout

This is one of the pre-workout products that have ingredients that I like to see in a label — everything from citrulline malate, amino acids, and beta-alanine.

It’s also packed with caffeine.

It even includes a transparent label that lists the ingredient amounts. There are no misleading proprietary blends here.

Pros
  • No proprietary blends
  • Increased blood flow
  • Good for endurance running
Cons
  • Might be too much caffeine if you are sensitive to it

I took this before I went running, and I was pleased with the results. I was running for a long time, and I had high energy all through out.

5 - Legion Pulse

Legion Pulse Pre Workout Supplement

Legion Pulse is slightly different from the others. They offer caffeine-free pre-workouts with natural ingredients.

It still contains essential ingredients that help your body mass and is a nitric oxide booster.

I tried it before I went running, and I thought the taste was okay. I felt the effects as I was running. My heart rate was increasing, and I enjoyed feeling like I could keep running for a long time.

Pros
  • Uses natural ingredients
  • Has caffeine-free versions
  • Boosts energy
Cons
  • Not as many servings per container

One downside is that one container only contains 21 servings, so it doesn’t last as long as other pre-workout supplements.

If you like Legion products, you might also like the Legion Phoenix fat burner.

6 - Red Leaf Pre-Workout Energizer Powder

Red Leaf Pre-Workout Energizer Powder

It has ingredients that you don’t usually find in other pre-workouts like cranberry, beetroot juice, and green tea.

They include them for their antioxidant properties, so you only get the best for pre-workout nutrition.

However, it doesn’t have creatine. The caffeine content is also pretty low, with only 40mg per serving. While it may work well for a cardio workout session, it may not be enough for more intense strength exercises.

Pros
  • Contains unique ingredients like green tea
  • No jittery feelings
  • Good energy supplements
Cons
  • A little artificial taste

I thought the taste was a little artificial, but I still managed to have a good run.

7 - BioSteel High Performance Sports Hydration

BioSteel High Performance Sports Hydration

Pro athletes like Andrew Wiggins and Jalen Ramsey use this hydrating drink. It contains vitamin b, minerals, and many amino acid profiles.

The primary purposes are to help your endurance levels during your workout and help with muscle fatigue.

It’s not a preworkout in a traditional sense, but it can help with other aspects of your workout performance in the gym.

Pros
  • Used by pro athletes
  • Helps with hydration
  • No high blood pressure
Cons
  • Not a traditional pre-workout

When it comes to running, I thought this helped a lot with staying hydrated. It helped me run longer that way.

8 - MusclePharm Assault Pre-workout Powder

MusclePharm Assault Pre-workout Powder

The ingredients certainly pack a punch with 200 mg of caffeine.

I was excited to test this out and see if it did anything for my energy.

The first thing I noticed was the fruit punch tasted nice. I did my long workout sessions, and I felt like it increased my energy levels and helped with muscle fatigue.

Pros
  • No proprietary blends
  • Elevated energy
  • No noticeable side effects
Cons
  • Contains artificial flavors

Each container has 30 servings, so it can easily last you one month.

Is Pre-workout Good For Running?

person running on road at daytime

Yes, pre-workout is useful for running. It helps boost your energy and prevents lactic acid from making your muscles tired.

I would caution against taking it all the time though. You might develop a tolerance to pre-workout and won’t feel the energy-boosting effects anymore.

Use it wisely, and you’ll notice having longer runs.

Evidence supports a range of carbohydrate uses for various athletic applications, from taking in 30 to 60 grams per hour during endurance events to simply rinsing the mouth with a carbohydrate solution before sprint events.
- Georgie Fear, R.D., C.S.S.D

What Should A Runner Look For In A Pre-workout?

person running on tracking field

A pre-workout has a few necessary ingredients that most, if not all, have in their formula. Here is a breakdown:

Beta-alanine: It helps with muscle endurance. It creates a process in your body to prevent fatigue in your muscles [1]. It’s a necessary amino acid to run for more extended periods.

Creatine: The primary purpose is to help with muscle strength [2]. Creatine can be taken by both women and men. It’s mostly for short bursts of energy that make it easier to lift weights. It could also potentially help sprinters. Here's what happens when you stop taking creatine.

Caffeine: Caffeine is one of the top ingredients for organic pre-workouts and solely helps with energy. It can provide support for endurance athletes and little efforts of maximum power (like sprinting). It also prevents fatigue and the feeling of perceived exertion [3].

BCAAs: Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are fundamental to a pre-workout. It includes the amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They help manage protein in your body, and it can also help runners with next-day soreness [4].

Another thing I would look for in a pre-workout is to make sure to get the correct dosage; it’s not enough to only have the ingredients.

Caffeine should be 200-500mg, BCAAs need 5-20g, beta-alanine ranges from 1.5-5g, and creatine is between 5-20g.

You should consult a health professional to determine the exact amount you need.

You might find that some other pre-workouts add unique ingredients like pink salt, vitamin c, or green tea. If you find those, then you might want to do some research into their health benefits.

Click here for the best caffeine pills

Benefits

man running down on desert

There are many benefits to taking a pre-workout for runners. Let’s take a quick look:

  • Getting energy for endurance runs and sprints
  • Reduces the chances of soreness
  • Helps with muscle strength
  • Lowers the feeling of effort
  • Increasing energy for muscle cells
  • Can improve your metabolism

Runners of all levels can enjoy the benefits of pre-workout. It supplements your energy and supports your muscles.

Some people ask me if pre-workout is good for weight loss. It’s not a diet pill, but it could help your workout.

If you work out harder, then you might see some fat loss. Of course, you will see better results if combined with a calorie-restricted diet.

Any Side Effects?

unpaired white Nike Airmax shoe

The potential adverse effects of pre-workout are minimal.

The most common side effect is a tingling sensation throughout your body. The beta-alanine ingredient causes it, and it’s a temporary feeling.

If you go running in the evening or at night, you should consider using a pre-workout with no caffeine.

Otherwise, you might not sleep that night and mess up your sleeping schedule.

When Should I Take Pre-workout?

You should take pre-workout before you exercise. The pre-workout I use, Performance Lab, suggests taking it 45-60 minutes before your workout. Other people suggest 20-30 minutes.

We talk about this more in our how long are the effects of pre-workout article.

It may take some experimentation to discover when pre-workout kicks in for you. You can also try to make your own pre-workouts.

 

Is This Supplement Safe For Everyone?

Pre-workout can be safe products for lots of people. If you have concerns, then you should consult with a health professional. They can help you make the best choice for you.

You should also be careful to choose products that are made with high-quality ingredients and don't contain high amounts of sugar or artificial flavors.

Will It Make Me Run Faster?

Pre-workout could potentially make you run faster. It’s designed to help your body produce more energy, which could help with your overall running.

There are a lot of other factors to consider to help you run faster. But if you find a preworkout that works for you, then there's no harm in taking it.

Can I Take Energy Drinks Or Coffee Instead?

various energy drinks

You could increase your energy levels with an energy drink or coffee. They both lack the other nutrients that preworkout has.

Coffee does have some health perks, but coffee can only boost your energy. Coffee can’t support your muscles like pre-workout can.

Preworkouts can make a significant impact on your ability to run longer. They support your muscles, provide energy, and even help with muscle recovery.

It’s a lot of work for one supplement, but I feel like Performance Lab has the right formula.

It has all of the benefits, improved my running performance, and even tastes great. It also has ingredients that aren’t in other preworkouts. Himalayan pink salt helped me stay hydrated on my long runs.

If you want to learn more about it here, check it out here.

What do you think of my list? What is the best preworkout for runners in your experience?

Performance Lab Pre Workout

Performance Lab Sport Pre-Workout

Our #1 Pre-Workout for Running

  • Energy boost
  • Helped muscle endurance
  • Contains unique ingredients
  • Get the BEST PRICE until the end of September
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