Should You Take Pre-workout Before Running – Pros & Cons

Should you take pre-workout before running? After all, there are all those bodybuilders who seem to have a blast every time they have some sort of energy enhancing drink.

Yes, you should take pre-workout before running if you want better performance. Among the benefits you get increased focus, decreased rate of exhaustion, lower pain perception, and an increased ability to burn fat.

This is it in a nutshell. Keep reading the article to find out more about:

  • Taking pre-workout before running
  • The benefits of this supplement for runners
  • Potential side-effects of pre-workout

And more. Let's get started.

Should you take pre-workout before running?

Man drinking pre-workout from a shaker bottle

Even though we have already answered this question, let's get a bit more in-depth.

Pre-workout is a mix of ingredients meant to improve athletic performance - with benefits ranging from increased focus to less fatigue, improved fat burning effects, and more. Therefore, if you want to improve your running performance, you should consider taking this supplement.

There are a few common ingredients in this supplement that will specifically cater to running.

In this section, we will brush over those ingredients and how they specifically help runners:

  • Caffeine. This is one of the most common stimulants you can find in pre-workout supplements. Caffeine's been proven to help increase sports performance and reduce fatigue, which may be useful in the context of sprints and marathons alike.
  • Beta-Alanine. This amino-acid is known to increase exercise capacity and reduce muscle fatigue. It is especially effective in marathons if you've been using it for a few weeks to increase your levels.
  • Vitamin B complex. If you need help with your aerobic performance, looking for a pre-workout with B vitamins is essential. Thankfully, most supplements nowadays have this ingredient in abundance.

Whether you are a high-intensity runner, like a sprinter, or someone who needs sustained energy for longer periods of time, like a marathon runner, taking pre-workout before running can improve your performance.

So, should you take it before each run?

No, we don't believe that you should be taking this supplement before each run or training session.

Our bodies have a great ability to adapt to and build up a tolerance to most substances. Caffeine, Beta-Alanine, and any other stimulants in pre-workout are not an exception. This is similar to how someone who drinks a lot of coffee builds a tolerance to caffeine.

Most people who have been taking this supplement for an extended period can attest to the fact that they no longer feel the tingling sensation associated with pre-workout.

Once you can no longer feel the supplement kicking in, it's time to take a break for a few weeks.

Alternatively, you can only take the supplement when you feel like you need it.

If you feel lethargic or you are not in the mood to go for a run, that is when you could use some extra help from pre-workout and still get it done.

What are the benefits of pre-workout for runners?

Should you take pre-workout before running

When it first came out, this supplement was intended for bodybuilders and, generally, people who hit the gym to lift weights. Therefore, its main purpose was to help with anaerobic exercise.

However, some of the benefits transfer to aerobic exercise - so running too.

Here are the benefits of taking pre-workout before running:

  • Increased focus. By being able to focus while running, you can move faster and lower your rate of perceived exertion. As a result, you run faster and fatigue slower.
  • Decreased rate of exhaustion. With ingredients such as Beta-Alanine, your muscles will not fatigue as fast, which allows you to run for longer periods of time.
  • Lower pain perception. If you run long enough, your body will eventually start to ache. Pre-workout helps lower the pain perception and allows you to push for more.
  • Increased ability to burn fat. Pre-workout is known to have a "thermogenic effect", meaning that it increases your body's ability to burn fat.

Whether you are a hobby-marathonist, athlete, or you are just trying to lose some weight running, you may benefit from supplementing with a pre-workout mix from time to time.

Are there side-effects you should know of?

If you decide to take this supplement, there may be some side-effects you should be aware of.

The reason I say "may" is because it differs from individual to individual. Most side-effects are related to an intolerance to caffeine or artificial sweeteners. Among the side-effects you will notice:

  • Digestive issues. If you are particularly sensitive to caffeine or can't digest certain artificial sweeteners, pre-workout can make you poop. If you find yourself having this issue, consider getting a supplement without these ingredients.
  • Increased heart rate. Pre-workouts can have up to 300mg of caffeine per serving, which is the equivalent of 3 coffees. If you suffer from heart conditions, check with your medic before taking the supplement, as it can increase your heart rate.
  • Insomnia. This is more of a side-effect if you take your supplement close to your bedtime. Just as you would not drink a coffee a few hours before going to bed, you want to avoid pre-workout for the same reasons.

As mentioned before, these effects differ from person to person.

The best way to figure out if you will have any of these side-effects is to actually try the supplement. To err on the side of caution, you may want to start with half a serving then build up, even though that is not necessary.

How long does pre-workout last?

Athlete mixing pre-workout before his training session

If you have decided to take pre-workout before running, you may be asking yourself two more questions: how long does it take to kick in, and how long does it last.

It takes about 30-60 minutes for pre-workout to kick in, so you should give it time to start working before you begin your run. Once it kicks in, it will last 1.5-3 hours, depending on different factors like the product itself, your tolerance to its ingredients, serving size, etc.

We dove deeper into this topic, so if you want to learn more about it, make sure to check our article on how long pre-workout lasts.


With these questions handled, we will answer some other common questions related to the topic.

Should I take pre-workout before cardio?

Yes, it may be a good idea to take pre-workout before cardio.

Even though this supplement was created to help weightlifters, it was soon found out that it helps with cardio exercises as well.

How long should you wait to run after taking pre-workout?

It takes around 30-60 minutes for pre-workout to kick in once you've taken it. If you start your warm-up around the 30-minute mark you should be good to go.

Will pre-workout make me run faster?

Unfortunately, not. Pre-workout alone will not help with your speed. However, it helps with the endurance side of running.

Therefore, it can help you get better times in a long-distance run like a marathon.


So, should you take pre-workout before running?

If you want to increase your performance, then yes. However, most benefits will have to do with fatigue management during that particular running session. There will be no long lasting positive effects.

That said, if you take the supplement before every run, your body will build up a tolerance to it. Therefore, you will have to get off it for a few weeks before you can get the benefits again.

For this reason, we only recommend you to take pre-workout every once in a while, especially in one of those instances where you feel lethargic or like skipping your run.

Over to you.