It is fair to say that the supplements industry has boomed in recent years and the trend looks set to continue for the foreseeable future.
The term ‘supplements’ covers a vast array of products including powdered formulas, drinks, snacks, tablets, candy bars and many more.
One of the most popular types of supplements are pre-workout products, which are designed to deliver positive results for everyday athletes and elite-level performers.
According to research conducted by PreWorkout, the healthiest pre-workout products deliver tangible performance gains if consumed correctly.
Runners have increasingly been turning to pre-workouts in recent years to boost their energy levels when they partake in intensive training activities.
With that in mind, we take a closer look at pre-workout supplements and how they can have a positive influence on running performance.
In simple terms, a pre-workout is a nutritional supplement that boosts energy levels, stamina and endurance during physical activities such as running.
The products can also contribute significantly to the development of lean muscle mass and help with weight loss if used in conjunction with a healthy diet.
Pre-workouts come in several different forms, with powdered formulas which can be turned into beverages the most popular on the market.
These provide a range of scientifically-proven performance benefits if used in the correct dosage and consumed at the optimum time.
Caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine and branched-chained amino acids (BCAAs) are amongst the most common pre-workout ingredients. Here is quick look at how they work:
- Caffeine: This ingredient is designed to boost endurance, making it the ideal component for pre-workout products. When you consume caffeine, your body uses fat as a source of energy rather than muscle glycogen.
- Creatine: Popularised in sport by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger during the 1990s, creatine primarily boosts muscular strength. It also increases energy, which is useful for athletes who undertake endurance activities such as running.
- Beta-Alanine: This is an essential amino acid that can increase endurance levels and stamina. Research has shown that beta-alanine improves running performance by lowering the build-up of blood lactate.
- Branch-Chained Amino Acids (BCAAs): Isoleucine, leucine and valine amongst the amino acids included in pre-workouts. BCAAs are beneficial to runners as they assist the body’s protein management and mitigate the effects of muscle soreness.
The benefits of pre-workouts for runners
It is important to note that pre-workouts are not a magical fitness solution as they lose their impact if your dietary intake is not up to scratch.
However, if you eat a healthy diet and stay well hydrated, pre-workouts can deliver significant improvements in energy levels, strength and performance.
The leading pre-workout supplements provide the extra energy and stamina you require before, during and after your workout.
Using these type of products can also reduce muscle soreness, thus reducing the amount of time runners need to spend resting and recuperating.
The primary contributor to muscle building is recovery. The earlier you can recover from muscular discomfort and soreness, the faster you will see improvements in muscle size.
Pre-workouts also enhance blood circulation, which is responsible for delivering oxygen and nutrients from the blood to your muscles.
This improves cardiovascular function and the circulation of blood throughout the body, giving runners the ability to keep going for much longer.
Pre-workouts can also assist in improving attention and cognitive performance while you are undertaking training activities or performing competitively.
This helps you maintain an intense level of attention which allows you to stay focused on your running for much longer.
Should I take pre-workouts?
Generally speaking, if you take pre-workouts before you go for a run, you should see an improvement in your overall performance.
As we have already mentioned, your daily dietary intake will determine just how much benefit you will derive from taking pre-workout supplements.
In addition to eating a nutritious breakfast each day, the rest of your meals should contain a balance of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, fish and healthy fats.
This will ensure that you garner the maximum benefits from pre-workouts as the ingredients work in harmony with your daily food intake.
Rather than relying on muscle glycogen for energy, pre-workout products tap into your body’s fat reserves and help runners power through those last few metres.
It is worth noting that your body can develop a tolerance to pre-workout products, so it is not advisable to use them before every single run.
Using an excessive amount of pre-workout supplements or more than the recommended dosage can cause several different side effects.
These including jitters, itching and sleep deprivation – all of which could develop into more serious health conditions if allowed to fester long term.
However, if you follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter, pre-workouts can be extremely beneficial to runners of all abilities.
Pre-workouts for runners – the final word
If you are serious about achieving your fitness aims through running, pre-workout supplements can play a key role in getting you over the finish line.
Using products from reputable manufacturers in the correct dosage supported by a healthy diet is the best way to ensure pre-workouts deliver optimum results.
No matter which products you decide to use, always check the ingredients list to ensure it has the components you need to improve your running.
If you are on medication or have any underlying health conditions, always speak to a health practitioner before using pre-workout supplements.
Once you have got the all-clear, pre-workouts can be a great way to take your running activities to another level and deliver the results your desire.