7 Best Pre-Workout For Running 2023: Top Choices For Runners

Kate Barrington

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

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Pre-Lab Pro

Pre Lab Pro

  • Boosts energy without a crash.
  • Third-party lab tested. 
  • Contains L-tyrosine, a nootropic.

Transparent Labs Bulk Pre Workout

Transparent Labs Bulk Pre-Workout

  • Products are third-party lab tested. 
  • May improve strength and reduce soreness. 
  • Available in 11 different flavors.

Transparent Labs LEAN Pre Workout

Transparent Labs LEAN Pre-Workout

  • Contains fat-burning ingredients. 
  • Provides an energy boost. 
  • Free from artificial sweetener and flavor.

Popular among athletes and gym goers, pre-workout supplements are taken before exercise to enhance performance. Depending on the ingredients in the supplement, pre-workouts may boost energy levels and could even promote weight loss. 

When choosing a pre-workout supplement, it’s important to consider your goals. For example, a supplement formulated to maximize muscle growth might not be the best pre-workout that boosts weight loss. If you’re a runner, you’ll probably want to choose a pre-workout supplement that promotes sustained energy and improves muscular endurance. 

While pre-workout supplements alone won’t transform your abilities as a runner, they can help you achieve more intense workouts or obtain more significant results. We’ve rounded up some of the best options on the market to help you find a good pre-workout for running that suits your needs.

Best Pre-Workout Supplements For Running In (June. 2023)

Are Pre-Workouts Good For Running?

Also known as “pre-workouts,” pre-workout supplements come in various forms, from pills and powders to gels, shakes, and bars. They’re trendy in the world of sports nutrition because they can provide an energy boost to help power you through a workout. 

When it comes to running, there are many ways to tailor your training according to your goals, but the right ingredients in a pre-workout supplement can boost performance. 

For example, if you’re a short-distance runner, you might choose a pre-workout drink that provides quick-burning energy to improve your explosive sprinting power. However, the best pre-workout for runners who run long distances might be formulated to restore glycogen levels and prevent muscle fatigue. 

No matter what your goals as a runner are, pre-workout formulas could help you get the most out of each and every run or exercise session.

Benefits Of Pre-Workouts For Running

As is true with any dietary supplement, the benefits of pre-workouts are dependent on the ingredients. Pre-workout supplements are formulated to impact your performance during a workout, while post-workout supplements support various aspects of what comes after — things like muscle recovery. 

Here are some of the potential benefits runners and other endurance athletes can gain from taking pre-workout supplements:

Increased Energy Levels

Pre-workout drink mixes often contain caffeine to increase energy levels. Caffeine is a stimulant that increases activity in the central nervous system, helping you feel more energized and alert. The results of a 2017 study suggest that ingesting caffeine before physical activity may increase the time to exhaustion[1] by as much as 12%.

Reduced Feeling Of Perceived Effort

Not only does the caffeine in pre-workouts boost energy levels, but some evidence suggests it may alter the perception[2] of exertion and muscle pain. In other words, a pre-workout supplement that contains caffeine might make your run feel a little bit easier.

Reduced Muscle Soreness

In addition to improving performance, many pre-workouts contain ingredients that help mitigate the after-effects of exercise. Delayed onset muscle soreness[3] or DOMS is a type of exercise-induced muscle damage that typically occurs eight to ten hours after exercise. Branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs, a common ingredient in pre-workouts, have been shown to help maintain muscle strength during exercise and prevent some of the muscle damage contributing to DOMS.

Improved Blood Flow

Running is a form of cardiovascular exercise, so healthy blood flow is a must for strong performance. Improved circulation means more oxygen and nutrients are being delivered to your muscles along with the amino acids needed to maximize strength and performance. Many pre-workouts contain ingredients that boost nitric oxide production,[4] like citrulline, a non-essential amino acid.

7 Best Pre-Workout Supplements For Runners 2023

Pre Lab Pro

Pre Lab Pro contains ingredients to boost energy, improve focus, and enhance endurance without the crash you get from other pre-workout powders.

  • Boosts energy without a crash.
  • Third-party lab tested. 
  • Contains L-tyrosine, a nootropic.
  • High in iron.
  • Only 20 servings per tub.
  • High in sodium.
  • Contains erythritol.
  • Contains stevia.

Pre Lab Pro contains ingredients designed to boost athletic performance as well as energy, focus, alertness, and motivation. While caffeine plays a large role in delivering these benefits, Pre Lab Pro also contains L-theanine in a 2:1 ratio to boost the benefits of caffeine[5] without increased side effects. In addition, it contains L-tyrosine for a nootropic effect[6] on motivation to exercise and to enhance the effect of caffeine.

Pre Lab Pro also enhances performance by increasing nitric oxide production. The key ingredients which deliver this benefit are beetroot powder, a source of dietary nitrate, and a proprietary blend called Sertria. Sertria contains L-citrulline, which boosts L-arginine,[7] another amino acid involved in nitric oxide production, and L-glutathione,[8] which helps protect nitric oxide activity. 

Unfortunately, the formula contains erythritol,[9] which has recently been linked to an increased incidence of strokes, and stevia, which has been shown to alter the gut microbiome.[10] And stevia, depending on the form used, may be combined with erythritol or maltodextrin, both unfavorable additives.

Each tub of Pre Lab Pro contains 20 servings, and the powder has a tasty berry flavor. The formula contains no artificial flavors or sweeteners, and it is free from soy, wheat, peanuts, and tree nuts.

Transparent Labs BULK Pre-Workout Supplement

If gaining muscle and increasing strength is one of your goals, this pre-workout powder can help you achieve it. This pre-workout is formulated to help maximize intensity during your workouts to support the development of lean muscle mass.

  • Products are third-party lab tested. 
  • May improve strength and reduce soreness. 
  • Available in 11 different flavors.
  • Limited returns policy. 
  • High caffeine content. 
  • Contains stevia.

Transparent Labs operates under a policy of 100% transparency which includes testing by third-party labs. This company offers Certificates of Analysis, also known as COAs, and Certificates of Composition for all products on their website and their products. 

With 8,000 milligrams of citrulline malate and 4,000 milligrams of beta-alanine, and 2,500 mg of betaine[11] per serving, this BULK pre-workout is designed to optimize nitric oxide production for increased blood flow and to improve strength.[12] This recipe also contains 1,300 milligrams of taurine per serving to reduce soreness,[13] though more research is needed to verify the effects of this ingredient. 

This vegan pre-workout is free from artificial sweeteners, colors, and preservatives. Each tub contains about 30 servings, and the powder comes in 11 different flavors, including strawberry kiwi, black cherry, and lemon-lime.

Transparent Labs LEAN Pre-Workout Supplement

With caffeine to deliver a quick energy boost and an assortment of fat-burning ingredients, LEAN is one of the best pre-workouts for running if you want to shed a few pounds.

  • Contains fat-burning ingredients. 
  • Provides an energy boost. 
  • Free from artificial sweetener and flavor.
  • High caffeine content.
  • Contains stevia. 
  • No evidence of third-party testing.

Formulated by the same company as the pre-workout above; LEAN is specifically designed to support weight loss. It contains 21 active ingredients that help boost athletic performance while increasing calorie burn and promoting fat loss. 

Like the previous formula, this pre-workout contains citrulline for increased blood flow and L-theanine for metabolic benefits,[14] but it is more focused on ingredients that boost weight loss. L-carnitine, for example, helps regulate fat metabolism by enhancing lipolysis and protein synthesis,[15] and choline may support weight reduction.[16] This recipe also contains 200 milligrams of caffeine from organic coffee beans per serving. 

Transparent Labs LEAN pre-workout is free from artificial flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives. It comes in 9 different flavors, and each tub contains 30 servings.

Jacked Factory Nitrosurge Pre-Workout

Though it’s our pick as the best pre-workout for men, this supplement is ideal for anyone who wants to improve their body composition by shedding fat and building muscle.

  • It may help increase fat burn. 
  • Provides a quick energy boost. 
  • Comes in 11 flavors.
  • May causes a tingling sensation.
  • No evidence of third-party testing.

Manufactured by Jacked Factory, Nitrosurge is a pre-workout powder designed to increase fat burn and help you get the most out of your workouts. It contains 180 milligrams of caffeine per serving for a quick pre-workout energy boost and comes in 11 different flavors. 

Nitrosurge is marketed as a thermogenic pre-workout. Unlike many pre-workout formulas on the market, however, the list of ingredients is fairly simple. Each 8-gram scoop contains 3 grams of L-citrulline, 1.6 grams of beta-alanine, 1.25 grams of betaine anhydrous, 90 milligrams of L-theanine, and 50 milligrams of theobromine ( a caffeine-like substance). 

A scoop of Nitrosurge also contains 25 milligrams of AstraGin, a combination of Astragalus membranaceus and Panax notoginseng extracts. Astragalus membranaceus is valued for its anti-inflammatory benefits, and Panax notoginseng, or Chinese ginseng, is revered for its ability to promote circulation.[17]

Powher Pre-Workout for Women

Formulated specifically for women, this pre-workout is designed to enhance athletic performance without the jitteriness or crash you get from high-stimulant recipes.

  • Low-stimulant formula for women.
  • Made to cGMP standards. 
  • Backed by a 90-day guarantee.
  • No evidence of third-party testing.
  • Artificially sweetened with sucralose. 
  • Contains maltodextrin.

While many pre-workouts contain high levels of caffeine, this low-stimulant formula is designed to support more intense exercise sessions while improving mental focus and motivation. It comes in a convenient powder form with a tasty pink lemonade flavor. 

Powher for women isn’t a caffeine-free pre-workout, but it’s made with natural caffeine from green coffee beans. This ingredient is commonly used in fat burner supplements, valued for its positive effects on insulin sensitivity[18] and glucose metabolism. Powher also contains EnXtra, a proprietary ingredient marketed as a caffeine amplifier that is derived from Alpinia galanga, a plant in the ginger family. This ingredient has been shown to increase alertness.[19] 

Unfortunately, this formula contains both maltodextrin and sucralose, two controversial ingredients. Maltodextrin may cause gut dysbiosis[20] and other gastrointestinal side effects, while sucralose[21] disrupts the gut microbiome causing high blood sugars.

Each tub of Powher powder contains about 25 servings. While products are manufactured in FDA-approved facilities that follow current Good Manufacturing Practices or cGMP, Powher does not appear to utilize third-party testing.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout

If you’re looking for an extra energy boost, this Gold Standard pre-workout from Optimum Nutrition delivers without charging an arm and a leg.

  • Quick-dissolving powdered formula. 
  • May improve short-term running performance. 
  • Available in four different flavors.
  • Contains artificial sweeteners and flavors. 
  • No evidence of third-party testing.

Formulated with caffeine, beta-alanine, and creatine monohydrate, this pre-workout is easy to use and delivers excellent value. The quick-dissolving powder can be consumed as little as 15 minutes before exercise.

This pre-workout contains three proprietary blends: Muscle Matrix, Performance Composite, and Energy & Focus Complex. The Energy & Focus Complex delivers 175 milligrams of caffeine per 10-gram serving, and the Muscle Matrix blend contains 3 grams of creatine monohydrate per serving. Creatine supplementation[22] has been shown to improve strength, muscle performance, muscle growth, and recovery.

The star ingredient in the Performance Composite blend is the amino acid beta-alanine. Beta-alanine has been shown to improve short-term exercise performance[23] at doses of 4 grams-5 grams, though more research is needed to determine its effectiveness in endurance events lasting more than 25 minutes.

Each tub of Gold Standard powder contains 30 servings, and the formula is available in four flavors.

Orgain Sport Protein Organic Plant-Based Pre-Workout Powder 

Enjoy the performance-enhancing health benefits of increased protein intake without the guilt with this vegan, gluten-free, and USDA organic protein powder. 

  • High protein content.Certified USDA organic. 
  • High in iron.
  • No evidence of third-party testing.
  • Contains erythritol and stevia both.
  • Contains proprietary formulas.

While carbohydrates are essential to provide energy, adequate protein intake[24] may help prevent muscle breakdown and speed recovery for endurance athletes. Regarding a protein powder suitable for runners, Orgain Sport Protein Powder contains 30 grams of organic plant-based protein per serving with an added 5 grams of BCAAs.

The term BCAAs covers three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. While BCAAs have been shown to support muscle protein synthesis,[25] the benefits may be greater when consumed after exercise. Research does suggest, however, that consuming BCAAs before exercise may speed recovery[26] and reduce muscle soreness. 

Each serving of protein powder contains 200 calories with 15 grams of total carbohydrates and just 1 gram of sugar. This formula is available in vanilla or chocolate flavor. Like other supplements on this list, there is no evidence of third-party testing.

How We Decided Our Picks

A pre-workout supplement is generally designed to optimize athletic performance. We chose our top picks based on ingredients, brand reputation, customer reviews, and third-party testing. 

The ingredients in a pre-workout are what determine its efficacy. While you can certainly find non-stimulant options, many pre-workout formulations contain caffeine as an energy booster. We preferred pre-workouts made with natural caffeine sources like green coffee beans. 

Aside from active ingredients, we looked at formulas that didn’t contain unnecessary additives. We recommend looking for formulas that are naturally sweetened with monk fruit and free from artificial flavoring and preservatives such as sucralose, erythritol, and maltodextrin. Stevia is probably the safest of all of these controversial ingredients. 

After analyzing a product’s ingredients, it’s wise to assess the brand’s reputation. We used review sites like TrustPilot to gauge customer experience and checked each brand’s rating on the Better Business Bureau website.

Finally, we prioritized pre-workouts from companies that have a strong history of transparency and those that appear to uphold high standards for quality with their products.

Ingredients Of Pre-Workouts For Running

Various running exercises require differing degrees of strength, effort, and endurance, so the best pre-workout for running is one that contains specific ingredients to support your goals. 

Some of the most common ingredients in pre-workout supplements fall into the following categories:


Caffeine is one of the most common stimulants, though some formulas include natural caffeine sources like green tea or green coffee bean extract.

Many pre-workouts also contain ingredients that enhance aspects of cognition, such as focus and motivation. Aside from caffeine, other examples of cognitive enhancers[27] may include guarana, L-tyrosine, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.

B Vitamins

Pre-workouts also frequently contain B vitamins like vitamin B12, which some claim enhances energy, mood, and cognition. Vitamin B12,[28] or cobalamin, is one of eight B vitamins that play a role in the body’s metabolism of glucose for energy. 

While adequate B12 levels are essential for health, supplemental intake is only likely to trigger significant improvements in energy levels and cognition in individuals who are deficient in vitamin B12.

Fat Burners

Fat burners are ingredients that help increase metabolism, boost lipolysis, and increase thermogenesis. Common fat-burning ingredients[29] include green tea, chromium, carnitine, and conjugated linoleic acid.

Recovery Enhancers

As you run, your muscle cells sustain damage that your body must then repair. The recovery process frequently leads to soreness but can also lead to muscle gain as your muscle cells rebuild themselves stronger. Pre-workout ingredients which support recovery include BCAAs and non-essential amino acids like citrulline and beta-alanine.

When To Take Pre-Workouts

Regarding workout performance, the timing of nutrients is essential. It’s generally best to take a pre-workout between 15 and 30 minutes before you exercise. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for product-specific recommendations.

Potential Side Effects

Pre-workout supplements are generally considered safe as long as they are manufactured in FDA-registered facilities that follow cGMP standards. 

Side effects of pre-workouts are often linked to high caffeine intake. Consuming too much caffeine can lead to headaches and jitters. According to a 2017 systematic review, daily consumption of up to 400 milligrams[30] of caffeine is not associated with adverse effects in healthy adults. Just be mindful of taking a pre-workout that contains caffeine the same day you consume coffee, tea, or other caffeinated beverages. 

If your pre-workout contains high levels of beta-alanine, be aware that you may experience a tingling feeling in your hands and feet, known as paresthesia.[31] It is not a harmful reaction, but some find it uncomfortable.

Final Thought

Whether you’re looking for the best-tasting protein powder to fuel up before a long run or a supplement to delay fatigue and prevent soreness, the pre-workout powders on this list are a great place to start. 

Keep in mind that the efficacy of any pre-workout drink depends on the ingredients. Think about what goals you’re hoping to achieve through running to determine which ingredients to focus on. It may also be worth considering a pre-workout formulated specifically for men or women or a recipe designed primarily for gaining muscle or shedding fat. 

Always talk to your healthcare provider before adding dietary supplements, including pre-workout supplements, to your routine. Your doctor or registered dietitian specializing in sports nutrition can help you determine the proper dosage and ideal ingredients to look for.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a pre-workout for running do?

While effects are linked to specific ingredients, pre-workouts for running are generally designed to increase energy levels and improve muscle endurance.

Is a pre-workout bad for you?

Not necessarily. As is true for all dietary supplements, pre-workouts should be taken cautiously and used as directed.

What kind of pre-workout is best for running?

The best pre-workout for runners typically contains caffeine or another stimulant to boost energy levels. Many formulas also contain ingredients that improve blood flow to reduce muscle breakdown and enhance endurance.

Should you take pre-workouts before every run?

Probably not. The potential side effects of pre-workouts depend on the ingredients, but because many formulas contain high levels of caffeine, they should be used with caution. Excessive caffeine consumption may exacerbate certain health problems, such as sleep and anxiety disorders.[32]

Can you take coffee or energy drinks instead?

Maybe. If energy is your primary concern, the caffeine in coffee and energy drinks might provide the boost you seek. Still, coffee and energy drinks will lack other ingredients that enhance performance and maximize exercise intensity and duration.

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Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

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Kate Barrington

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness trends — she also enjoys crafting original recipes. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

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