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Best pre-workout for runners in 2023

Want a boost to help you unlock your run? Delve into the magical world of pre-workout for runners...

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Pre-workout continues to grow in popularity for runners, but what is it? And why are people taking it before their training sessions?


To answer those burning questions, we’ve enlisted the help of Ryan Page, Senior NPD Manager at Foodspring.

Below, Ryan talks about why pre-workout might be good for runners, what to look for when buying some and how to use it.

After that, the 220 team has pulled together a roundup of some of the most popular pre-workout options on the market. The list is based on in-depth research and analysis of consumer reviews.

What is pre-workout?

A pre-workout is a food, drink or food supplement taken before exercise to stimulate performance and/or fuel endurance.

Pre-workouts can come in the form of powders, pills, drinks, gels and even food items like chewable gummies or bars.

Is pre-workout good for runners?

Pre-workout supplements are becoming increasingly popular among runners. In the world of running there can be many goals an individual may tailor their training toward: from increasing explosive sprinting power to having the endurance to push for further distances.

These different goals may mean that the optimal supplements to take before exercise may also differ. Some products, such as Foodspring’s Energy Aminos, focus on providing stimulation from ingredients such as caffeine as well as vitamins and minerals that support with focus and cognition.

Other pre-workouts may include a source of carbohydrate, with the intention of saturating muscle glycogen stores to ensure the longest possible time until fatigue.

For runners looking to maximize their performance and reach their goals more efficiently, pre-workout supplements may be an excellent option.

What should you look for when buying pre-workout for running?

Credit: Jordan Siemens/Getty Images

As mentioned previously, when it comes to running, your desired goal should influence what pre-workout you choose.

For that get up and go feeling, the key is to look for pre-workouts that contain ingredients like caffeine and B vitamins for energy.

For longer runs, consider a pre-workout with added electrolytes, particularly sodium, potassium and magnesium, which will be lost in sweat.

If you’re covering significant distances, it may also be worth taking a pre-workout alongside a carbohydrate, such as having a serving of Energy Aminos and a banana.

With these components in mind, you’ll be able to find the perfect pre-workout that will help you reach your running goals.

When should you take pre-workout?

A pre-workout containing active ingredients such as caffeine should ideally be taken 15-30 minutes prior to exercising, as this is the time it takes for the supplement to take effect.

What are the potential side effects of pre-workout?

As with all supplements, it’s recommended that the individual seeks advice of a trained health practitioner before usage.

It’s common that to give the best ergogenic benefits, ingredients in some pre-workouts can be in significant doses.

Some potential side effects associated with pre-workout supplements include headaches, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and gastrointestinal distress.

Consuming caffeine before intensive exercise is well documented in research for its ergogenic benefits, but bear in mind that caffeine can increase heart rate as well as intense exercise.

Best pre-workout for runners

SIS Go Hydro

Servings: 160
Vegetarian: Yes
Vegan: Yes

Science in Sport created this tablet to be consumed both before and throughout your run, intended to provide both hydration and mental stimulation.

It includes 75mg of caffeine, which is said to provide an energy boost and help reduce your pain threshold.

To help with your hydration needs, SiS provides a combination of electrolytes, particularly sodium.

It’s recommended that users dissolve one tablet in 500ml of water, which should be consumed three to four hours before your run. However, be sure to read the brand’s directions for use before consuming.

The product featured here comes in tubes of 20 tablets, with a box of eight tubes delivering 160 servings.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout Advanced

Servings: 20
Vegetarian: Yes
Vegan: No

Optimum Nutrition’s most advanced pre-workout is designed to intensify energy and focus. To give your run a kick, one serving includes 200mg of caffeine, which is stated to have been sourced entirely from natural sources.

There’s also 6g of L-Citrulline and 3.2g of Beta-Alanine to compliment the caffeine. It’s recommended that you mix 21g or three level scoops into 400ml of cold water and drink 15-30 minutes before your run.

Foodspring Energy Aminos

Servings: 20
Vegetarian: Yes
Vegan: No

Designed to cover a range of essential ingredients, Foodspring’s Energy Aminos offers 200mg of caffeine with each serving. There are also plant based BCAAs and piperine, an alkaloid found in black pepper.

This pre-workout also includes three added vitamins: C, B3 and B12. It’s recommended users mix one measuring spoon with 400ml of water, shake and drink around 20 minutes before training.

Bulk Essential Pre-Workout

Servings: 30
Vegetarian: Yes
Vegan: Yes

Bulk’s essential pre-workout aims to provide an affordable alternative to their other pre-workouts, stripping down to core ingredients.

It features 200mg of caffeine and 400mg of L-tyrosine per serving, stated to improve athletic performance.

There’s also 3g of beta alanine, citrulline malate and AAKG. Bulk claim these ingredients help improve alertness and overall energy levels.

MyProtein The Pre-Workout

Servings: 30
Vegetarian: Yes
Vegan: Yes

MyProtein’s The Pre-Workout features a blend of 3000mg of creatine monohydrate and 200mg of caffeine — stated to stimulate a combination of physical and mental performance benefits.

MyProtein also provide vitamin B6, which is intended to combat fatigue and tiredness, as well as L-glutamine, an amino acid, which is intended to help support recovery.

MyProtein recommend users mix one scoop with 300ml of water and consume 30 minutes before exercise.

Cellucor C4 Original Pre-Workout

Servings: 30
Vegetarian: No
Vegan: No

Another pre-workout that includes a blend of ingredients, Cellucor’s C4 pre-workout includes 150mg of caffeine and 1.5g of creatine monohydrate.

It also contains vitamins C, B6 and B12, which are designed to reduce fatigue and help with energy.

It’s completely free from sugar, carbohydrates, or calories and the brand recommends users take one scoop with 150-200ml of water 20-30 minutes before training.

Bulk Caffeine Free Pre-Workout

Servings: 26
Vegetarian: Yes
Vegan: No

If you’re the kind of person who tends to enjoy running late at night, a caffeine-free pre-workout is likely a good idea. This option from Bulk might just provide the answer.

It uses 5g of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), 3g of creatine monohydrate and 3g of citrulline malate. There’s also vitamin B6, stated to help reduce fatigue, plus electrolytes to help with hydration.

Bulk recommends one heaped scoop with 250ml of water, consumed 30-45 minutes before training. Ideally, they recommend this should be on an empty stomach.

Ora Organic Natural Pre-Workout

Servings: 20
Vegetarian: Yes
Vegan: Yes

This natural pre-workout from Ora claims to provide an energy boost with minimal comedown. It contains 90mg of caffeine per serving, which is sourced from organic green coffee beans, yerba mate and matcha green tea.

Ora’s pre-workout is also made from several herbs including ashwagandha and coconut water, which is said to help with stress relief, focus and endurance levels.

It’s free from artificial stimulants, instead relying entirely on natural, raw ingredients. There is even pomegranate juice powder, which Ora claims helps to support a healthy blood flow.

It comes in a matcha green tea flavour, which users are recommended to enjoy by mixing into 250ml of water 30 minutes before a workout.

Protein Works Raze Extreme

Servings: 30
Vegetarian: Yes
Vegan: Yes

Protein Works’ Raze Extreme claims to promote energy and focus, with 200mg of caffeine and 3.5g of creatine.

To compliment this blend, there is also 150mg of EnXtra, a spice that claims to help heighten the effects of caffeine.

There is also 3.5g of beta alanine, as well as vitamins C, B9 and B12, which are claimed to help reduce tiredness and fatigue.

It’s recommended that users mix four scoops, or 12g, with 350ml of water and drink 30 minutes before training.

MyProtein Pre-Workout Gel

Servings: 12
Vegetarian: Yes
Vegan: Yes

If carrying a shaker for your pre-run boost sounds a little inconvenient, these pre-workout gels from MyProtein may provide a handy solution.

They offer 221mg of caffeine, plus a mix of B vitamins and amino acids, in gel form, designed to be consumed straight from the sachet.


MyProtein recommends users consume one sachet 15-30 minutes before training. They can be stored easily in a rucksack or pocket, allowing runners to get a quick boost while on the go.