Unlike high-intensity training, running is all about endurance. It’s not a sprint it’s a marathon. Literally. Long-distance running is complemented with a completely different mindset and also requires different nutrients to efficiently fuel your body over a prolonged period of time. Without the right supplements during fundamental replenishment times, your body will not have enough stamina, energy, or power to perform at optimum levels. So let's talk about what supplements you'll need to maximize your performance and endurance as a runner.
Best Supplements For Endurance Runners
1. Clean Carbs
Carbohydrates are the most important macronutrient for endurance training and prolonged exercise. The major fuel source during your workout to provide long-lasting and sustained energy is glycogen. The greater your glycogen stores, the longer your exercise time to exhaustion. This is why endurance runners, and athletes will eat honey wafers, or energy gels, which are composed of simple or complex carbohydrates, to provide a fast-acting energy source to replenish glycogen stores [R, R].
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According to clinical research regarding muscle glycogen synthesis, for optimal training performance, muscle glycogen stores must be replenished on a daily basis. For the average endurance athlete, a daily carbohydrate consumption of 500 to 600g is required. This results in maximum glycogen storage of 80 to 100 mumol/g wet weight [R].
So what type of carb supplement is the best? Many of the carb supplements that you find online and at supplement stores are composed with fast-acting simple carbohydrates such as maltodextrin, highly-branched cluster dextrin (HBCD), waxy maize, or dextrose. The problem with these carb supplements is that they’re made with genetically modified cornstarch (sugar) that will spike blood glucose levels, build unwanted body fat, and energy crash. The last thing you need during a race is to spike blood insulin levels, then hit a wall.
Additionally, simple carb sources have zero clinical evidence showing that they actually increase human performance when tested against other carb supplements.
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If you’re thinking about adding in more carbs do you diet, it’s important to use a carb supplement that comes from a natural food source. Complex carbohydrates made from real food are the preferred and natural carbohydrate fuel source to provide long-lasting sustained energy. We recommend Clean Carbs, since it’s made with sweet potatoes, yams, rolled oats, and blueberries.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT Clean Carbs (30 Servings)
2. Beta-Alanine (CarnoSyn)
Beta-Alanine is a non-essential beta amino acid, which helps fight muscle fatigue by counteracting the development of lactic acid. By binding with naturally occurring histidine, Carnosyn® Beta-Alanine will increase muscle carnosine content. More muscle carnosine content will help build endurance, increase strength and significantly improve performance by buffering hydrogen ions. Hydrogen is produced from lactic acid, during resistance or high-intensity training.
When lactic acid rises, so does acidity in muscle tissue. When acidity increases, your muscle ability to contract decreases, which results in a loss of endurance and power. By buffering hydrogen through an increase in carnosine content, your muscles will be able to contract for a longer period of time and delay the onset of fatigue.
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CarnoSyn® beta-alanine demonstrated statistically significant delays in muscle fatigue and increases in exercise endurance and peak capacity across a wide span of athletic performance and different endurance sports such as sprinting, rowing, HIIT, and cycling.
In a study published in the Journal of Physiology, 15 male sprinters supplemented 4.8g of CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine for four weeks. The study proved that muscle carnosine concentrations increased after four weeks, which helps reduce muscle fatigue and promote endurance [R].
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT Beta-Alanine CarnoSyn (60 Servings, Unflavored)
3-4. Essential Amino Acids And Electrolytes - Intra Workout Supplements
Essential amino acids and electrolytes, are two of the most beneficial supplements for long distance and endurance runners.
Intra-workout supplements can be extremely beneficial to help boost endurance and provide fuel for long-lasting training and prolonged bouts of exercise. Athletes who train for several hours in the gym, on the track, or on the pavement, need to keep their energy levels, focus, and hydration optimized at all times to maximize their training capacity and output. That’s where intra-workout supplements can benefit performance the most.
The majority of intra-workout supplements contain fast-acting carbohydrates, essential amino acids, and electrolytes.
For example, Swolverine’s Intra Workout Supplement contains
- ELECTROLYTES: Himalayan Pink Salt, Calcium Citrate, Magnesium Chloride, Potassium Chloride, and Coconut Water
- SUPERFOOD/SPORTS NUTRITION INGREDIENTS:Essential Amino Acids (EAA), Spirulina, Tart Cherry, and Pomegranate
- ENERGY/FOCUS INGREDIENTS:Panax Ginseng, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12
Electrolytes are crucial not only to avoid bonking, but for any type of workout for adequate and efficient hydration for endurance athletes and runners. Hydration during your workout is essential to prolong endurance activity, improve workout volume, delay muscle fatigue, and improve recovery.
Electrolytes are minerals and vitamins that conduct electrical activity in the body so that you can perform mechanical functions, such as muscle contraction and relaxation, which are a part of daily and athletic functions. With just a 1-2% reduction in body weight from fluid loss alone, performance takes a dive and perceived exertion goes plummets. In a typical workout, you can lose anywhere from 2-6% of your body’s water weight just by sweating. In an ultra, you can count on losing much more than that. The loss of water and electrolytes, coupled with not replenishing them, effects recovery times, oxygen levels, and nutrient deliveries contributing to muscle wasting and a poor removal of waste from the blood stream [R].
Electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium, salt can help replenish hydration. Coconut water is also a great ingredient for hydration. Naturally low in sugar, coconut water boosts the electrolyte potassium along with a few other nutrients.
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Sodium and electrolytes help your body retain water, which is important during a race. If you don’t have enough electrolytes, your body will essentially stop working. Your legs will get heavy, you’ll feel extreme fatigue, and the dreaded wall will be waiting. You’ll need between 300-600mg of sodium per hour and if you’re a salty sweater, your intake is going to be higher than that. The International Society of Sports Nutrition recently recommended that ultra-endurance athletes should aim for between 450 and 750 mL per hour for adequate hydration [R].
Essential Amino Acids (EAA)
By increasing running time, your body can become catabolic, metabolizing amino acids for fuel, leaving your body in a negative amino acid state, which can result in a loss of muscle mass.
A large body of evidence shows that that EAAs can improve athletic performance, delay muscle and mental fatigue, and enhance muscle recovery. A systematic review, including 4274 patients across thirty-nine randomized controlled trials found that EAAs improves muscle strength, physical function and fatigue 
When your body works harder and harder during strenuous physical activity, muscle tissue is broken down, resulting in increased levels of tryptophan. Increased levels of the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan, triggers an increase in serotonin, which produces lethargy, decreases muscular contractions, and depresses motor neuron excitability.
A bonk happens when your body runs out of carbohydrates. However, when you demand more from your body, you need more fuel to supply it with, as it utilizes more resources. Your body doesn’t just use glycogen, it also uses electrolytes, water, fat, and protein.
During high-intensity and prolonged endurance activity, you may experience an amino acid deficit, which leads to neurotransmitter imbalance. We call this muscle catabolism. Muscle catabolism takes place, when your body uses your muscle mass for energy, in times of severe nutrient depletion. When this takes place, you may also experience what’s called central nervous system fatigue.
For your nervous system to synthesize amino acids, you also need an adequate intake of b-vitamins which are also the primary building blocks of neurotransmitters.
Ingesting essential amino acids each hour during a race, will help you amplify your resistance to mental and muscle fatigue. I suggest supplementing with Swolverine’s INTRA. INTRA is a combination of essential amino acids, B-Vitamins, electrolytes from pink Himalayan salt and coconut water, as well as raw superfoods proven to help endurance, and recovery such as pomegranate, spirulina, and tart cherry extract.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT INTRA (Tropical Blast, Cherry Frost 30 Servings)
L-Glutamine plays a pivotal role in helping your muscles rebuild and repair themselves, to prevent muscle soreness and aid in faster muscle recovery. During endurance training, your body will actually use and deplete all of its glutamine stores, which inhibit its function and decreases strength, stamina, and even compromises and lengthens the recovery period. By supplementing with L-Glutamine, you’re protecting your body from muscle mass breakdown and exercise-induced soreness.
Glutamine is also essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. Often overlooked, endurance runners can experience increased susceptibility to illness, due to weakened immune systems while training. Glutamine is used by white blood cells to produce cytokines, (small proteins released by white blood cells). With an increased amount of cytokines, you invariably increase your body’s resistance to illness and protect your immune system.
Another benefit of Glutamine for endurance runners is its role in hydration. Hydration is crucial for the muscle recovery process and endurance training. If you are dehydrated following a workout, the process of protein synthesis will be hindered and subsequently delay the recovery process [R] Not to mention, effect your performance.
In a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, ten male subjects were administered 3g of L-Glutamine or a placebo to examine the effects of L-Glutamine ingestion on hydration during endurance exercise. The results found that time to exhaustion was significantly reduced and performance levels were significantly improved with higher concentrations of L-Glutamine. L-Glutamine uptake by the skeletal muscles resulted in greater sodium uptake. The enhanced sodium uptake by skeletal muscle may have contributed to a reduction in fatigue by maintaining strength and efficiency of muscle contractility [R]
With an ability to help sodium uptake for better hydration during training, Glutamine is a great supplement for endurance runners.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT L-Glutamine (Unflavored, 60 Servings)
Best Supplements For Endurance Runners: Takeaway
Looking for a supplement to help you maximize your running capacity and performance?
Your body needs carbohydrates for optimal performance and recovery during high-intensity and endurance training. But, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Swolverine's Clean Carbs is made with 100% real whole-superfoods from complex carbohydrates, including Sweet potatoes, Yams, Oats, and Blueberries to provide the long-lasting and sustained energy your body needs to fuel performance and optimize recovery. Delicious and rich you can add it to your smoothies, shakes, or mix with water, for a rich and tasty treat.
SWOLVERINE is an endurance athlete and active lifestyle brand. Made for the elite athlete, and the strong-willed our products were designed to fuel your athletic performance. We perform when you perform.
We believe that everyone can optimize not only their athletic performance but their human potential. The way we believe we can optimize performance is through transparency, clinically effective doses, and clinically proven ingredients with evidence-based outcomes. We provide the nutrients you need to power your active lifestyle.