Whether you’re a casual runner or a seasoned pro, making the most of each run depends on several factors, but diet and overall nutrition are particularly important. While runners often find that following a strict diet can improve performance, there are some supplements for running that can take your efforts even further.
From shortening recovery times to improving speed, the supplements below provide a variety of benefits that help you up your running game on the track, in the gym or at the starting line.
Looking to boost your endurance every time you run? You should seriously consider supplementing with Vitamin E. This powerful antioxidant may help to counteract free radicals produced during endurance exercise. Recent studies have even shown that exercise may mobilize Vitamin E from store tissues, redistributing it in the body to prevent oxidative damage. As a result, Vitamin E is becoming one of the most effective supplements for running, helping individuals reap the full health benefits of exercise.
It takes a lot more than pure muscle to become a great runner—your bones need to be in good health, too. People who run regularly—especially endurance cross-country or marathon runners—need plenty of calcium in their diet to keep their bones healthy. How does Vitamin D fit in? In short, it can significantly aid in calcium absorption, leading to better bone health and strength.
Vitamin D also boosts your immune system and improves your cardiovascular health, helping you run at your best. While your body absorbs Vitamin D from sun exposure, it’s usually not enough to satisfy your daily needs and supplementing may be a safe, convenient way to get more Vitamin D each day.
Runners need to build and maintain lean muscle—they need to consume enough protein to match up with how much and how hard they run. Most runners turn to supplements to boost their protein intake, since it can be tiring to eat the same boiled chicken for every single meal. Plus, a protein shake is a great way to get your body bioavailable protein quickly after a workout, for optimal recovery.
If you’re considering upping your protein intake, start by identifying what kind of protein your body needs. There’s a wide range of protein supplements out there, including non-dairy options, but whey protein is typically the gold standard for runners. It contains important branch-chain amino acids that promote muscle growth and protein synthesis, helping you build strong, lean muscles that push your performance further.
If you’re pushing yourself on the track or in the gym, you’re going to have sore muscles on a regular basis—it just comes with the territory. While rest obviously plays an important role in recovery after a grueling run, there are supplements that can speed up the process by reducing inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly effective against inflammation, and since it’s not typically produced by humans it must be consumed through food or supplements. Omega-3 is the recovery supplement of choice for runners, protecting against inflammation and injury and promoting better heart health in the process.
CoQ10 is gaining traction as an important supplement for endurance runners, with several studies showing that it improves aerobic power and anaerobic threshold while reducing recovery times after exercise. Since bioavailability of CoQ10 is low, and your body has a hard time absorbing it, supplementation can have a direct and immediate impact. Research is ongoing, but many athletes agree that CoQ10 is quickly becoming an essential supplement for running, allowing you to boost performance and endurance.
For runners who are focused primarily on speed and less on distance running, consider supplementing with creatine. This naturally occurring amino acid provides plenty of muscle-building benefits, offsetting muscle loss that accompanies the aging process. Research suggests creatine supplementation can enhance muscle strength, hasten recovery and even improve your performance as you work out, helping you increase your speed and power as you run.
Supplements can help you take your performance further
From improving endurance to aiding in recovery, there are a variety of supplements for running that can optimize your performance whenever you run. If you’re ready to supplement your diet with any of the options listed above, reach out to your doctor first to determine whether it’s right for you. A quick discussion can help you determine which supplements will take your running performance to the next level, while also safeguarding your overall health and wellness.