Total Shape is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission. Learn more.

Is Creatine Good for Running?
What You Must Know

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: August 17, 2021

Weightlifters and other power athletes striving to maximize their muscle gains and explosive strength primarily consume creatine supplements.

Recently, many endurance athletes, including swimmers, cyclists, sprint and marathon runners, and their coaches have asked us about utilizing creatine supplementation to enhance their strength, endurance, and exercise performance.

To provide them with the best possible advice, we’ve examined what science says about the proven advantages, side effects, doses, loading, timing, and different forms of creatine supplementation for endurance athletes to maximize the product effectiveness.

Here’s the detailed fact-based information on using creatine for endurance athletes from the best researchers, sports, and health experts.

How Does the Creatine Work?

asian man in a gym drinking a supplement from a jug

Creatine consists of organic amino acids arginine and glycine, naturally produced in the human body (mainly by the liver, about 1 gram per day).

It can also be found in meat, fish, and other food rich in proteins.

This substance turns into creatine phosphate in the body, which then helps produce the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecule our muscles utilize for energy production. [1]

Your body quickly runs out of ATP, especially during exhausting strength training sessions, high-intensity interval training, running, cycling, or any similar activity.

So, many athletes use creatine supplementation to increase muscle creatine stores and get a strength and power kick that’ll help them keep training despite feeling tired.

The higher the creatine amount stored in your muscles, the higher ability your cells have to produce and replenish energy during and between intense training intervals, potentially improving your athletic performance. [2]

6 Benefits for Runners

man in a white shirt holding up a pill container and a thumbs up

Research shows that runners and other athletes involved in high-intensity intermittent activities can benefit from using creatine supplements. [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]

Here’s what a study [10] suggests about the effects of creatine and carbohydrate loading on exercise capacity after comparing the data and results in the creatine group and placebo group:

“The changes in power output we observed during sprints are likely to have a major practical impact on the final outcome of a race, as both cycling and running events are often won by the athlete who can either stay with the leading pack during breakaways, or sprint to the finish line in the latter stages of a race.”

The most notable creatine benefits are:

  1. It gives your muscle cells an energy boost, alleviating fatigue possibly caused by a drop in muscular pH. [11]
  2. It increases endurance performance and stamina, enabling long-distance sprinters to keep going during long, intense workouts and races and run a mile more than usual.
  3. It helps build muscle mass (especially fast-twitch) that may transfer to more efficient oxygen usage, helping sprinters, hurdlers, and other short-distance runners become stronger and run quicker in short bursts of time.
  4. It provides the strength and power to push yourself to the limits (run faster or a mile further, lift heavier weights, a few more bench press reps, etc.), increasing your workout duration, length, and quality.
  5. It may support hydration, helping prevent muscle cramping and soreness, cell damage, and injuries to your tendons, ligaments, bones, and nerves.
  6. It enhances recovery and energy regeneration, enabling you to train harder and longer.

A Possible Downside

body view of a person squeezing his fats

In addition to the evidence on a number of fitness gains, we must mention a possible drawback of creatine intake that may be a problem for any endurance athlete - body weight gain due to water retention.

Weight gain is the biggest reason why athletes concerned about hurting their performance might avoid this supplement.

When Should I Take It When Running?

woman stretching out in the park before running

Some studies show that taking a creatine supplement shortly before you go running works best as it gets properly utilized to provide a necessary energy burst when you need it most.

You can also take another serving shortly after your running workout to replenish your stores.

Most people believe the exact timing isn’t so critical.

Still, it’s worth knowing that creatine stays in your bloodstream for one to one and a half hours on average.

Another important point is that your body absorbs it about an hour after ingestion.

So, you could split your total daily dose and take a serving an hour before and after sprinting.

How Should I Take It for the Best Results?

shirtless man drinking supplements in the gym

Here’s how you should supplement creatine for the best results (based on science):

  • An optimal creatine daily dose is 3-5 grams.
  • Research suggests taking 20 grams per day split into 4 servings for 5 days (creatine loading phase) and then continuing with a lower maintenance dose of 3-5 grams per day for as long as you need to boost your creatine storage. [12]
  • To improve creatine absorption and maximize its effects, take it with foods that contain carbohydrate and protein. [13]
  • Once you’ve mixed your creatine supplement with fruit juice or another liquid, ensure you drink it immediately as it will degrade if pre-mixed and left.

Which Creatine is the Best for Running?

According to more than one study, the powder form of creatine monohydrate is the best for any runner in terms of safety and purity. Plus, this form is much more effective than pills, liquid, or other types of creatine products. [14]

P.S. If you're a vegan, these creatine brands are totally safe for you.

So, Is Creatine Good for Runners?

Many studies have proven that creatine is good for both men and women runners.

It can lead to increased muscle mass, enhanced post-workout recovery, higher energy levels, endurance, strength, and other improvements that may result in longer and harder workouts, ensuring faster sprints and perhaps some new personal records.

Health professionals usually recommend avoiding long-term supplementation and getting all the nutrients from a balanced diet whenever possible.

We’d also recommend balanced nutrition and moderate use of this and other supplements after consulting your physician.

After gaining a detailed insight into the creatine role from this content piece, you’ll hopefully be able to make a better decision for yourself.

If you try it, let us know how it works.


References:

  1. https://www.webmd.com/men/creatine
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10919967
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/13754611_Effects_of_creatine_supplementation_on_body_composition_strength_and_sprint_performance
  4. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263269
  5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-creatine/art-20347591
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0024320504005211
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12701815/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11099372/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11252467/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28806275/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9809381/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2048496/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10956365/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2048496/

About the author

You may also like

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *