The 8 best pre workouts for running 2021

When you think of a pre-workout, you may not think of runners. Yet pre-workouts have come a long way, and include all athletes.

Currently, there are several pre-workouts made for runners. What should a pre-workout like this contain?

For starters, it might have specialized carbs and amino acids. Most formulas will have several ingredients that improve endurance.

In this guide, we’ll look at the best pre-workout for running. Ready to go? Let’s check it out! 

In a Hurry? Here is our top pick:

NutraBio Pre Extreme

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Best Pre-Workout For Running

  1. NutraBio Pre Extreme – Best Overall
  2. BioSteel Hydration Mix – Best For Hydration
  3. Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged Pre Workout – Best For BCAAs
  4. Legion Pulse – Best Natural Pre-Workout
  5. Vaxxen Labs Keto1 Preworkout – Best For Keto
  6. Red Leaf Pre Workout Energizer – Best For Beginners
  7. LADDER Sport Pre Workout – Best Low Caffeine
  8. Do Vitamins Pure Pump – Best Vegan

Reviews – The Best Pre-Workouts For Running

NutraBio Pre Extreme – Best Overall

NutraBio Pre Extreme

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As noted, one of the best ingredients a pre-workout can offer runners is carbohydrates. They should be fast-absorbing carbs to help fuel your run.

Our best overall, NutraBio Pre Extreme, provides 15g of ClusterDextrin®. This is a fast-absorbing carbohydrate that provides the energy you need. Yet, these carbs are slow releasing. This means they can fuel your longest runs.

Pre Extreme also contains two forms of creatine. One of the things creatine does is improve endurance. To further support endurance, there’s beta-alanine.

Also, there’s leucine to help preserve muscle. Plus, there’s an electrolyte complex to help you stay hydrated. Nutrabio Pre Extreme has plenty of caffeine. There are also other nutrients that promote clean energy and focus.

Of course, this product has a transparent label. Finally, it’s dosed according to clinical standards.

PROS

  • Features Extreme Label Transparency
  • Contains 15g Fast Absorbing Yet Slow Releasing Carbohydrates
  • Features Leucine And Electrolytes

CONS

  • Contains Artificial Sweeteners And Flavoring

BioSteel Hydration Mix – Best For Hydration

Here’s a pre-workout that keeps you hydrated during your run. You can use BioSteel Hydration Mix before, during, and after your run to replenish electrolytes. It also contains BCAAs and glutamine for muscle preservation and recovery. This is a stim-free product, so there’s no caffeine.

Also, unlike other pre-workouts, it does not contain beta-alanine, pump, or focus ingredients. It’s designed to provide superior hydration. Finally, the label is fully disclosed.

PROS

  • Designed For Hydration
  • Contains Amino Acids To Prevent Muscle Breakdown
  • Stim-Free Formula

CONS

  • Some Users Feel The Taste Is Too Light

Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged Pre Workout – Best For BCAAs

Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged Pre-Workout is usually the pre-workout choice of bodybuilders and weight lifters. Why is this a good choice for runners? It’s high in BCAAs, which are crucial for muscle preservation while running. Also, it has a hydration complex.

While betaine, creatine, and beta-alanine support strength, they also support endurance. Plus, beta-alanine is dosed at half-strength. That means the harmless tingling effect won’t disrupt your running session.

Also, there’s a branded antioxidant complex. Finally, Pre-Kaged has a balanced energy/focus complex using natural caffeine. It has an open label, and besides beta-alanine, it’s clinically dosed.

PROS

  • Features A Transparent Label
  • High BCAA Content
  • Contains Antioxidants And Electrolytes

CONS

  • Some Users Feel It’s Not A Value-Conscious Option

Legion Pulse – Best Natural Pre-Workout

Here’s an all-natural, simple 8-ingredient pre-workout. Legion Pulse contains electrolyte minerals and several endurance ingredients. These ingredients include beta-alanine, betaine, and citrulline malate. This form of citrulline adds malic acid.

It’s an ingredient that’s involved in ATP production. There’s also caffeine for energy.

Plus, it contains Alpha GPC for focus and concentration. Legion Pulse has a transparent label.

Plus, it’s dosed to clinical standards. Finally, Pulse uses natural sweeteners and flavoring.

PROS 

  • 100% Natural Formula
  • Simple Formula
  • Open Label And Clinical Dosing

CONS

  • May Be Too Limited Of A Formula For Some Users

Vaxxen Labs Keto1 Preworkout – Best For Keto

Here’s a pre-workout for Keto dieters. Vaxxen Labs Keto1 Preworkout contains 5g keto salts. There’s also natural caffeine that’s sourced from green tea. Plus, there’s beta-alanine dosed a little less than the clinical 3.2g.

Finally, there’s citrulline for increased blood flow. As noted, this means more oxygen and nutrients to your muscles while running.

Keto1 Preworkout is ideal for anyone following a low-carb diet and trying to burn body fat. Of course, running is one of the best ways to burn excess fat. Vaxxen Labs Keto1 Preworkout does not contain any artificial ingredients.

PROS

  • Natural, Clean Pre-Workout Formula
  • Meant For Keto And Other Low Carb Dieters
  • Features Keto Salts And Natural Caffeine

CONS

  • Some Users Do Not Like The Taste

 

Red Leaf Pre Workout Energizer – Best For Beginners

Here’s a pre-workout specifically designed for beginners. Red Leaf Pre Workout Energizer is low dosed across the board. That makes it ideal for anyone new to using pre-workouts. Using a one-scoop serving, users will experience medium effects. This is well-suited to someone that’s never used a pre-workout before.

Once users have adjusted to Red Leaf, they can use two scoops. This allows new users to get used to the ingredients without experiencing adverse effects.

Red Leaf features a balanced formula that includes BCAAs and glutamine. These ingredients support muscle preservation while running. Plus, there’s beta-alanine for endurance, and caffeine for energy. Finally, this is a transparent pre-workout.

PROS

  • Ideal For Beginners
  • Fully Open Label
  • Balanced Formula

CONS

  • There May Not Be Enough Caffeine For Some Users

 

LADDER Sport Pre Workout – Best Low Caffeine

Here’s a pre-workout that’s ideal for runners that want a low caffeine product. LADDER Sport Pre Workout has 100mg of caffeine from green tea. There’s also creatine, betaine, and beta-alanine for endurance.

This pre-workout for runners does not contain artificial ingredients. Instead, it contains 5g cane sugar. This will provide quick energy to the body.

LADDER is a company founded by LeBron James and Arnold, along with other pro athletes. This company also has nutrition and science advisors.

Finally, like every other pre-workout in this guide, this is a transparent label.

PROS

  • This Is A Company Founded By Celebrity Athletes
  • Features 100mg Natural Caffeine
  • All-Natural Formula

CONS

  • The Formula May Be Too Limited For Some Users

Do Vitamins Pure Pump – Best Vegan 

Here’s a pre-workout that’s ideal for runners following a vegan lifestyle. Do Vitamins Pure Pump contains 15 total ingredients. This includes electrolyte minerals and B vitamins for energy.

There are also BCAAs, creatine, and beta-alanine. There’s 200mg of caffeine is from green tea.

All the ingredients are well dosed. In fact, this pre-workout may not be strong enough for some users. These users may wish to use 2 scoops.

Still, this is a clean, open formula. Besides the active ingredients that make up the formula, there are the “other ingredients”. In this case, there’s only two “other ingredients”: crystallized lemon and cane sugar. There’s nothing artificial, and the sugar content is less than 1g.

Finally, the BCAAs are vegan-sourced.

PROS

  • Vegan Formula
  • Fully Open Label
  • Contains BCAAs For Muscle Preservation

CONS

  • Some Users Don’t Like The Taste

Buying Guide – How To Choose The Best Pre-Workout For Running?

What Is A Pre-Workout?

A pre-workout is a supplement that improves your training performance. It will increase energy and endurance. Also, a pre-workout enhances focus and improves your motivation. Plus, it will increase power and strength. Finally, a pre-workout will promote pumps and enhance hydration. 

What Is A Pre-Workout For Running?

The best pre-workout for running will add a quick-burning carbohydrate source for energy. It will also add amino acids for muscle preservation. Our best overall, NutraBio Pre Extreme, provides fast-absorbing, slow-releasing carbs. Also, there’s the amino acid l-leucine. Only a few pre-workouts contain specialized carbohydrates. Still, even without carbs, pre-workouts for running will have endurance ingredients.

What Benefits Do Pre-Workouts For Running Provide?

  • Energy – This is a benefit of any pre-workout. Even stim-free pre-workouts attempt to improve energy. Most pre-workouts use caffeine as the main energy ingredient. Some will include other stimulants. 
  • Endurance – Every good pre-workout for running contains ingredients that extend endurance and reduce fatigue. The primary ingredients are beta-alanine, creatine, and betaine. This combination is in several of the pre-workouts in this guide.
  • Focus – The best pre-workout for runners should include ingredients that elevate focus. Focusing on the task at hand is important for running. It’s also important for other forms of training.  
  • Pumps – A pump is not essential for runners. Even so, ingredients that increase nitric oxide increase blood flow. This means more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles while running. Plus, waste products will transport out faster.
  • Strength & Power – Many pre-workouts increase strength and power. This is another benefit that’s important to running. Also, many of these ingredients also improve endurance. These ingredients include creatine and betaine. LADDER Sport Preworkout is one example of a pre-workout that contains these ingredients. 

What Ingredients You Should Look For In A Pre-Workout For Running

Here are ingredients every pre-workout for runners should have:

ClusterDextrin® – You won’t find this in every pre-workout. You will find it in our best overall, NutraBio Pre Extreme. So what is ClusterDextrin? It’s a carbohydrate from waxy corn starch. It’s designed for rapid absorption. Yet, it releases slowly. This means you’ll have energy throughout your run. (1)

Beta-Alanine – This ingredient improves endurance by blocking fatigue. Beta-alanine works by increasing the levels of carnosine in the body. This, in turn, blocks the buildup of lactic acid. This improves your running ability. The one harmless side effect of this ingredient is a tingling sensation. This is temporary, but some users have a hard time with it. For this reason, many pre-workouts use less than the clinical dose. For example, Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged contains one-half of the clinical dose. (2)

Creatine – This ingredient is well-studied and considered one of the most effective natural supplements. In the context of running, creatine improves endurance. Many of the pre-workouts in this guide contain creatine. (3)

Betaine – Like creatine, betaine supports endurance and strength. Both creatine and betaine help pull water into the muscles. This helps hydration. This ingredient is in many pre-workouts for running. (4)

Caffeine – It goes without saying that you will find this is the most common energy ingredient. Caffeine improves energy, alertness, and performance. It also helps burn fat. Some of the pre-workouts in this guide use natural caffeine. One example of this is Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged. (5)

B Vitamins – Most pre-workouts include one or two B vitamins, such as B12. The B vitamins support energy and help relieve stress.

Choline – This is part of the B-vitamin complex. Choline activates acetylcholine synthesis. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that elevates mood and concentration. (6, 7)

Alpha GPC – This form of choline occurs in our brains. Alpha GPC absorbs better than regular choline. (8)

L-Citrulline – This is an ingredient that stimulates the production of nitric oxide. This, in turn, increases blood flow. While this causes a pump, it also increases blood flow. One benefit of this is an increase in nutrients and oxygen to the muscles. At the same time, the increased blood flow removes waste products from the muscles.

All of this improves your running endurance and performance. A few pre-workouts, such as Legion Pulse, use citrulline malate. This ingredient is a blend of malic acid and citrulline. Malic acid is involved in ATP production. This is one more thing to help fuel your running. (9, 10, 11)

Agmatine Sulfate – Like citrulline, this ingredient stimulates the production of nitric oxide. (12)

Nitrosigine (™) – Here’s another nitric oxide-boosting ingredient. This one is patented. It’s a combination of arginine and silicon that’s stabilized with inositol. The combination of citrulline, agmatine, and nitrosigine is in our best overall, NutraBio Pre Extreme. (13)

What You Should Consider When Looking For A Pre-Workout For Running

Right from the start, you should understand a few points regarding pre-workouts.

Prop Blends Or Transparent Labels?

There’s no reason to buy any pre-workout that’s nothing more than one or more underdosed prop blends. A prop blend lists ingredients in order of weight. There’s a dose for the entire blend, but not for individual ingredients. This means you do not know how much you’re getting of each individual ingredient. It makes no sense to buy a pre-workout like this. The reason is that you’re getting dosages that are too low to have an effect.

Clinical Dosing

Effective pre-workouts for running should be dosed to clinical standards. This means the ingredients use the dosing found by the research to be effective. What if the label is open, and has impressive ingredients? If the dosing is far below clinical levels, it’s a waste of time. The only time a pre-workout should have doses less than clinical levels is if it’s for beginners. By easing into full dosing, a beginner can become accustomed to the effects over time. This limits side effects and encourages continued use.  

When Should You Use A Pre-Workout?

Read all label directions. Take your pre-workout with 8-10oz of water 20-30 minutes before you plan to run. You can expect the energy and beta-alanine to kick in pretty quickly. Make sure you stay hydrated while running. 

Conclusion

NutraBio Pre Extreme has everything runners need. This formula starts with 15g of ClusterDextrin®. This is fast-absorbing carbs. These carbs release slower so you have the energy for those longer runs. Also, there’s leucine for muscle preservation.

Is your primary concern staying properly hydrated? Then BioSteel Hydration Mix is the ideal choice for you. This will replace the electrolytes you lose through sweating. You can use it before, during, and after your run. 

Finally, what if you want a low caffeine formula? LADDER Sport Pre Workout has only 100mg of caffeine from green tea. This is a celebrity athlete-owned and endorsed company. This pre-workout has endurance athletes in mind. 

As you can tell, the best pre-workout for running has to fit your personal goals. Use our guide to make the choice that’s right for you. Now, let’s go for a run! 

References:

  1. CLUSTER DEXTRIN™ | Glico Nutrition
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/beta-alanine-101
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-creatine
  4. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/80/3/539/4690529
  5. https://examine.com/supplements/caffeine/
  6.  https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/#h7
  7. Choline – PubMed Central (PMC). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2518394/
  8. https://examine.com/supplements/alpha-gpc/
  9. Figueroa, A., Wong, A., Jaime, S. J., & Gonzales, J. U. (2017, January). Influence of L-citrulline and watermelon supplementation on vascular function and exercise performance. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27749691
  10. Breuillard, C., Cynober, L., & Moinard, C. (2015, April). Citrulline and nitrogen homeostasis: an overview. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25676932
  11. Bahri, S., Zerrouk, N., Aussel, C., Moinard, C., Crenn, P., Curis, E., … Sfar, S. (2013, March). Citrulline: from metabolism to therapeutic use. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23022123
  12. Haulică I, et al. Preliminary research on possible relationship of NO with agmatine at the vascular level. Rom J Physiol. (1999). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11068606
  13. https://nitrosigine.com/about/
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