So there I am prepping for my evening workout, I feel a little sluggish and so I decided to take a little pre-workout before I hit the weights. And that is when my colleague turned to me and asked: “Can I use pre-workout before a run?”
And I froze, and kind of went silent, because I realized that the answer to this question may trigger several other questions in his mind like these:
1. What is a pre-workout? And when should you use it?
2. Why would you want to use pre-workout supplementation before running?
3. What are the Pros and Cons of taking a pre-workout supplement before a run?
4. Does pre-workout increase heart rate?
5. Should you use pre-workout as a runner?
So it got us thinking, could you use pre-workout supplementation for workouts other than just lifting weights? A pre-workout for running or before doing a cardio perhaps?
Lets dig a bit deeper to understand what is a pre-workout…
What is a Pre-workout? And when should you use it?
Well the formal definition for pre-workout is that it’s a multi-ingredient dietary supplement designed to boost energy and athletic performance.
Despite the fact that there is no single set list of ingredients, the majority of pre-workouts usually contain a few, if not all, of the following substances
- Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
- Creatinine and nitric oxide precursors
These pre-workout supplements are usually sold in pill or powder form and taken with some water roughly 15-20 minutes before your workout.
Now I know that might have been a mouth full, but bear with us as we breakdown how pre-workout is not all that complicated or intimidating as we once believed it to be.
So that brings us to the next question:
Why would you want to use pre-workout supplementation before running?
Well, to be completely honest that is almost entirely subjective to the person using it.
That’s because the effect these ingredients have on your body and your performance depends on a few factors:
- Individual tolerance to stimulants such as caffeine or ginseng. If you are a regular coffee drinker you would more than likely respond differently to someone who doesn’t consume any caffeine.
- Individual level of fitness and experience. It has been scientifically proven that the “fitter” you are the harder it is to increase your overall fitness level.
- The type of workout you will be doing. The effect you will experience as a weightlifter for example will be almost entirely different to that of someone going for a long run or doing other forms of cardio.
But does that mean that a professional runner will have a better experience with a pre-workout supplement than a recreational one?
Not necessarily, ultimately that would depend on the specific pre-workout supplement and its individual dosage and quality of each ingredient.
Luckily for you, there are thousands of products on the market that quite literally cater to every individuals specific needs. But more on that a bit later…
Advantages of taking pre-workout supplements before Running
Just like anything in life, pre-workout supplements have both positive and negative attributes.
Let’s kick off with some of the positive effects you can expect to see when using a pre-workout for running:
- A better RPE score during exercise
- Greater use of fatty acids as an energy source (Perfect for all you KETO lovers out there).
- Increased muscle gain
- Increased muscle endurance
In short, a runner using pre-workout will be able to run for longer and he or she will feel like it takes less effort to do so.
And now for the not so fun side of pre-workout supplementation. Some of the most common side effects include:
Disadvantages of taking pre-workout supplements before Running
- It can increase your heart rate above normal levels causing you to feel jittery or extremely anxious and uneasy.
- It may cause digestive issues such as runner’s diarrhea
- It can lead to exhaustion or dehydration when used in the absence of a proper pre-run meal.
Now I know that all sounds horrific, especially the diarrhea part! But we are also aware that many of you runners out there are concerned with the first side effect mentioned above. So we’ll elaborate a bit more in depth on this…
Does pre-workout increase heart rate?
The answer is Yes and No…
Yes, an elevated heart rate is caused by the stimulants used in pre-workout supplements.
Stimulants such as caffeine, caffeine anhydrous or yerba mate mimic an almost pseudo-adrenaline-like reaction in your body (It makes your heart pump faster and harder).
This causes your heart rate to spike above normal and may leave you feeling jittery and anxious during your run or when you take pre-workout before a cardio session.
But No, not all pre-workouts have stimulants in their formulations. So as we mentioned earlier, the effects both good and bad, all depend on the specific pre-workout supplement and the type of the ingredients it contains.
Thankfully with the huge variety of pre-workout products and brands on the market today, you can literally find your perfect match.
Extra caffeine or zero caffeine, carbohydrate based or Ketogenic pre-workouts supplements. Whatever your preference, there is a product out there for you.
So should you use pre-workout as a runner?
Honestly, it is completely up to you…
If you’re training for a triathlon or a marathon and you need something to help get you through your 16 hour training days, then you should definitely consider getting your hands on some pre-workout.
But if you’re a complete newbie runner who has just started the journey towards running your first 10K? You might be better off building up your fitness before thinking about using any pre-workout supplements.
Nonetheless, taking pre-workout can be beneficial and ultimately improve your workout sessions. Whether it is a long run or just some extra cardio sessions during the week.
Supplementing with the right pre-workout that has the formula that works best for you and your needs can result in some awesome athletic performances.
To summarize, pre-workout is basically a dietary supplement that gives you more physical and perceived energy during your run.
So runners using pre-workout will be able to run faster, for longer and have a sort of mental resilience to push through their workout. How you respond to it depends on your fitness levels, experience and training regime.
But that being said, wherever you might be in your running journey we believe that having a pre-workout on hand is the perfect trump card for those days where you need a little kick up your backside to get across the finish line.