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Best Pre Workout For Running (And Not Sh*tting Your Pants)

Christian Pinedo


If you’re short on time, here is our list of the best pre workout supplements for runners:

Still Good

Best Overall

Runner Up

PreJym Pre Workout

Legion PULSE Pre Workout

PurePump Pre Workout

  • Lots of claims of people with upset stomachs (not great for that marathon...)

  • Tastes great, has the right ingredients, but not enough of it! WTF.

  • All ingredients use the LOWEST end of clinically effective dosages

  • Best for Those "Rocky Balboa" Runs (& without sh**ing yourself)

  • All Natural Flavoring So You Can Show It Off To Your Vegan Friends

  • Tastes Great and has all the right "stuff" with correct dosages.

  • All ingredients use the HIGHER end of the clinically effective dosages

  • Pretty Darn Expensive - Save it For Running Shorts?

  • All Natural but TOO Natural - Taste is not what you would call pleasant.

  • Most ingredients use the LOWEST end of the clinically effecitve dosages.

*Labdoor is an independent company that tests supplements based on purity, label accuracy, and quality, among other factors.

For a runner like yourself, you’ve probably seen a ton of BS pre-workout supplements claiming to give you that energy boost that makes you run for an extra 10 miles.

What they forgot to tell you is that on mile 4, you’re going to want to sh*t yourself and the whole run is going to be ruined (as well as your shorts).

That’s why, in this comparison review of the best pre-workout supplements for running, we want to give you the best option for a pre-workout supplement that helps you with your running journey even if you’re an endurance athlete or simply someone who likes those long morning jogs.

Finding a good pre-workout may be a viable way to increase your training output & mood.

Such supplements can help improve your physical capabilities in all aspects, including but not limited to running endurance, strength, and power.

Oh and did we mention, the best pre-workout supplements for running also contain active ingredients that improve mental focus and clarity!

What this means for you is that you will be energized both physically and mentally not only during your workout but for hours after that as well.

However, as you should know, supplements are just an addition to your daily nutrition.

No supplement will ever compensate for the lack of proper nutrition!

For this exact reason, before we show you the best pre-workouts for running, we’d like to briefly talk about the nutritional aspect of running endurance.

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Running & Energy

best pre workout ingredients for runners
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In general, low-intensity exercise like prolonged running uses up muscle and liver glycogen, as well as fatty acids.

Glycogen is essentially the stored form of carbohydrates that have not been used by the body and brain.

To meet the energy demands of the muscles during running, the body uses oxygen to break down the glycogen and fatty acids into usable energy.

In other words, to be a well-performing runner, you MUST eat your grains and dietary fats.

Here are our top recommendations for food products that runners can use to improve their output:

  1. White & Brown rice
  2. Beans & Lentils
  3. All legumes
  4. Starchy vegetables
  5. Sweet potatoes
  6. Oats
  7. Wholegrain bread
  8. Quinoa
  9. Avocados
  10. Nuts
  11. Coconuts
Prolonged running sessions use carbohydrates & fat to meet the energy demands of the muscles.
If you primarily focus on endurance running, you will improve your muscle endurance, as well as your cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

What to look for in a runner’s pre-workout?

what to look for in youre pre workout for running
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Now, compared to strength training, running exhausts the body in a very different way.

This is exactly why optimizing your endurance performance and recovery requires a different approach to your supplementation plan.

The previous subheading about Running & energy leads us to one certain conclusion – All pre-workout supplements for runners should be able to optimize muscle endurance & help sustain energy levels and focus for prolonged periods of time.

Here is a short breakdown of the main ingredients in the pre-workout products we will show you in just a second:


This is one of the best-known fitness ingredients on the market nowadays, as it offers a variety of benefits for athletes and regular gym-goers.

Beta-alanine is an amino acid that is proven to enhance sports performance across all aspects, including but not limited to cardio & strength endurance.

The main active pathway of beta-alanine leads to increased levels of “Carnosine”.

Carnosine essentially buffers the painful muscle burn and fatigue that you experience after a certain point during the workout.

That fatigue is caused by the accumulation of certain byproducts, so, therefore, the quicker you flush those, the more endurance you will have,

Beta-alanine is perfect for this purpose, which is why it is used in a variety of pre-workout supplements.


You’ve probably seen L-Carnitine being pitched as one of the greatest fat loss supplements.

And while that is true, it has a multitude of properties, which fortunately for you, include increased endurance!

L-Carnitine mainly acts on the body’s ability to uptake fats in the cell membranes, where they are converted to energy.

Furthermore, L-carnitine acts as a regulator of the carbohydrate metabolism, thus helping the body deliver energy to the muscles easier, and flush out any byproducts afterward.

So, better fat utilization and carb uptake, need we say more?

L-Arginine / Citrulline Malate

Basically, L-Arginine is an essential amino acid (the body can’t produce it), while citrulline malate is its secondary product.

Both of them are well-known for the way they benefit blood circulation, as well as their innate ability to improve strength and endurance.

As a combo, these two will regulate overall fatigue and may actually help you mitigate muscle soreness.

Further combined with branched-chain amino acids, these two ingredients might as well help almost completely prevent excessive muscle fatigue.

All of this is the reason why L-Arginine & Citrulline are widely relied on during the formulation of pre-workout supplements.

Best Pre-Workouts For Runners

Now that you have a firm grasp of all the important stuff about the nutrition side of things and what to look for in a pre-workout supplement, let’s have a look at our list of the best products runners can use.

Note: All our pre-workout recommendations are based on the research of Labdoor.

Labdoor is an independent company that tests supplements, rates them, and evaluates their effectiveness and safety.

Here’s a quick comparison table overview:


Optimum Nutrition

Old School Labs

Pure Pump

Pre Jym

Legion PULSE

Labdoor Ranking

Beta-Alanine (g)






Alpha GPC?


Where to Buy

#1 Legion Pulse

At our number 1 spot for the best pre-workout supplements, we have Legion Pulse (checkout our full review here).

Notice how I said supplements and not just the best pre-workout for running.

Our Top Pick

#1 Rated Pre-Workout on Labdoor

Legion Pulse Pre Workout

  • With its near perfect formulation, this is the best for those "Rocky Balboa" Runs (& without sh**ing yourself)

  • All Natural Flavoring so you can show it off to your vegan friends!

  • Tastes great and has all the right "stuff" with correct dosages of the right "stuff"

Serving size: 2 scoops (24.2g)

Key Ingredients & Dosing: L-Citrulline DL-Malate 2:1 (8g), Beta-alanine (3.6g), Betaine anhydrous (2.5g)

Who should buy this:

. People looking for a hardcore, yet not an overwhelming energy boost

  • If you are a fan of authentic blends, this is your best pre-workout choice
  • Trainees who have trouble staying focused on the task at hand
  • Endurance athletes should highly consider this product

Who shouldn’t buy this:

  • Everyone should buy this, really. (Unless you have/had cardiovascular issues)

Labdoor ranking: 90.2/100

#2 Pure Pump

Runner Up

Pure Pump Pre Workout

Being Labdoor's #2 ranked pre workout in terms of quality, this is a GREAT supplement to try. This pre-workout offers a balanced formula that will increase overall athletic performance and endurance, through carefully selected ingredients, with no artificial ingredients at all.

  • All Natural but TOO Natural - Taste is not what you would call pleasant.

  • Most ingredients use the LOWEST end of the clinically effecitve dosages.

  • Pretty Darn Expensive - Save it For Running Shorts?

Serving size: 2 scoops (7,6g)

Key Ingredients & Dosing: Beta-alanine (2000 mg), L-Citrulline (2000 mg), Creatine monohydrate (1000 mg), L-Carnitine (500 mg), L-Arginine (500 mg)

Who should buy this:

  • People who are looking to increase cardio & strength endurance
  • Trainees who are looking to get a greater feeling of the pump
  • Individuals who find it hard to focus on the workout
  • People looking to optimize power performance with a good pre-workout

Who shouldn’t buy this:

  • People with a history of cardiovascular problems
  • Individuals who have a low tolerance to caffeine

Labdoor score: 90.1/100

#3 Pre-Jym

Still Good

PreJym Pre Workout

  • Lots of claims of people with upset stomachs (not great for that marathon...)

  • Tastes great, has the right ingredients, but not enough of it! WTF.

  • All ingredients use the LOWEST end of clinically effective dosages

Serving size: 1 scoop (26g)

Key Ingredients & Dosing: Creatine (2g), Beta-alanine (2g), betaine (1.5g), Citrulline Malate (6g), L-Leucine (3g), caffeine anhydrous (300 mg)

Who should buy this:

. If you are looking for a really loaded pre, this is as good as it gets

. People who love massive doses of pre-workout

. People who do endurance training but also strength and power

. Trainees involved in many, different types of physical training

Who shouldn’t buy this:

. Individuals with low tolerance to stimulants

. People with cardiovascular problems

Labdoor ranking: Unavailable for this pre-workout supplement

#4 Old School Labs

Old School Labs Pre-Workout

The OSL Pre-Workout gives you an authentic feeling of the pump, just like Arnold had it. With a flurry of active ingredients, this pre-workout will keep you energized throughout and after your training. Unfortunately, most of the important ingredients aren't properly dosed, it still is an okay pre-workout.

Serving size: 1 scoop (15.3g)

Key Ingredients & Dosing: L-Citrulline malate (5000 mg), Beta-Alanine (1000 mg), L-Arginine (1000 mg), D-Aspartic acid (2000 mg)

Who should buy this:

  • People who love fruity flavors (Available in blueberry/pineapple/peach lemonade)
  • Fans of bigger pre-workout scoops (whopping 15g)
  • Individuals looking for proven to work ingredients

Who shouldn’t buy this:

  • Trainees who haven’t gotten their nutrition planned! (Go do that first)
  • People with cardiovascular diseases

Labdoor ranking: 82.5/100

#5 Optimum Nutrition

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre- Workout

Just like any other Optimum Nutrition supplement, this gold standard pre-workout will meet your expectations across all aspects without breaking the bank. Unfortunatetly, because it's on the cheaper side, the important ingredients aren't properly dosed, however, it'll still give you an okay energy rush.

Just like any other Optimum Nutrition supplement, this gold standard pre-workout will meet your expectations across all aspects, with its synergistic ingredient formula.

Serving size: 1 scoop (10g)

Key Ingredients & Dosing: Beta-Alanine (1500 mg), L-Citrulline (750 mg), L-Carnitine (375 mg), Creatine Monohydrate (3000 mg)

Who should buy this:

. Trainees who focus on resistance training heavily but do regular cardio

. Individuals who want to increase overall athletic output and endurance

. People who want to focus on running performance

. Individuals looking to feel better in their body overall

Who shouldn’t buy this:

  • People with allergic reactions to niacin
  • Individuals with a history of cardiovascular problems

Labdoor ranking: 75.0/100

Alpha-GPC: The Special Pre-workout Ingredient

One of the main reasons why the legion pulse pre-workout takes our #1 spot on the list is that it contains 300 mg of alpha-gpc.

Alpha-GPC is basically a compound that naturally occurs in the brain and generally helps regulate cognitive function.

This is exactly why as a sports supplement, this compound has been researched for its properties to improve mental focus during training.

Furthermore, a study was done, that looked at the effects of Alpha-GPC supplementation on athletic output.

The researchers concluded there were in fact substantial increases in strength & power output, on top of the athletes’ improved mental focus.

All the unique benefits of this ingredient put the legion pre ahead of its competition and on top of our list.

Whether you are a competitive power & strength athlete, or someone who’s looking for that extra physical and mental boost, this product is suitable for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you have an idea about what food & supplements to use as a runner, let us answer some of the frequently asked questions regarding endurance supplementation.

#1 A pre-workout for running, really?

Yes, really! While pre-workouts are generally associated with brutal weightlifting sessions where the goal is to develop muscle strength and size, they can also be useful for endurance athletes.

As you should know by now, substances like beta-alanine can help mitigate muscle fatigue and furthermore improve fat/carbohydrate metabolism to ultimately grant more energy.

This is why pre-workouts come in all forms and sizes.

#2 Do Pre-Workouts Have Side Effects?

One thing is for sure – Anything can have side effects if not used rationally, even water!

However, sports supplements are well regulated and if used as per recommendations, should have no side effects.

This is why we advise you to always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, whether you are supplementing with a pre-workout or any other product.

Ultimately, you should also implement frequent tolerance breaks if you use pre-workouts, as the body gets used to certain ingredients like caffeine.

Tolerance breaks are best done by taking time off of stimulants (pres, coffee, red bull, or any other energy drink) every couple of months for up to 20 days.

This will allow you to reap all the benefits of your pre-workout supplement in the long term.

#3 When to use a pre-workout?

Generally speaking, some of the ingredients in most pre-workout supplements take time to go into full effect.

The widely recommended time window to consume your pre-workout supplement is in the last 30-45 minutes before your training session.

This will allow you to warm up well and have the pre-workout kick in right at the very beginning of your working sets.

It is important to mention however that some of the stimulants may continue to circulate in your bloodstream for some time afterwards.

This is why it is recommended that you don’t take a pre-workout less than 6 hours before bedtime.


Low-intensity, prolonged running uses glycogen and fat to meet the energy demands of the working muscles.

The first thing to take care of before finding your pre-run supplement is your nutrition, which should be abundant in grains and dietary fats, as well as proteins.

Only when you have saturated the body’s primary energy stores with food, you can step your game up and use a pre-workout supplement.

We highly recommend that product to be the Legion Pulse pre, as it is the best-formulated running pre-workout on the market right now.

To yield the best-sustained effects with this product, avoid everyday use and integrate tolerance breaks, once you feel that the product’s effects have become less prominent.

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Christian Pinedo

Hey there, Christian here. I'm a former fat guy who just wants to help you succeed in your fitness journey. I share my own experiences and experiments right here on this site. Let me know how I can be of help by leaving a comment below. If you want to learn more about my 50 lb weight loss journey, click here.

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