Last Updated on January 15, 2021 by Monica Nelson
Caffeine is one of the most commonly used commodities in the world. From coffee and tea to supplements and pills, this is many people’s favorite stimulant to help boost their energy levels and motivation for a run.
But there are tons of caffeine supplements out there to choose from. So the question is: “which is the best caffeine pill for running?”
The good news is that you’re in exactly the right place to find out.
Running is one of my all-time favorite ways to implement cardio into my training plan. And I’ve tried and tested dozens of different products over the years.
Some caffeine supplements worked great, while others contained far too much caffeine per serving, which left me feeling more tired than I was to begin with!
Luckily, you can save yourself some time and money by checking out my #1 recommendation below…
My Favorite Caffeine Pill for Running: Performance Lab Stim
- Increased energy and motivation levels – defeat tired-days with energy boosts, minus the crashes you’ve experienced with other caffeine pills.
- Keep your body optimally fueled – Stim contains B-Vitamins in the exact amounts that caffeine has shown to deplete them, keeping your body refreshed with nutrients.
- Stay focused on your goal and not fatigue – keep your mind focused on the finish line with proven nootropics included in Stim’s formula.
- Avoid jitters and other side effects – a sensible but effective dosage of caffeine keeps you safe, with the added L-Theanine ensuring you avoid any side effects associated with caffeine overconsumption.
We all have long shifts at work or those days when we just don’t have the energy or motivation to go for a run. Whether that’s in a gym, on a treadmill, or outside.
Usually, though, caffeine pills contain wayyy too much caffeine to take in the evenings. Some products I’ve seen contain over 200 mg of this stimulant!
A dosage that high, particularly later in the day, can wreak havoc on your ability to get a good night’s sleep. So, it’s definitely worth keeping your caffeine intake in check.
Performance Lab Stim keeps things safe and sensible – but effective. Even the capsules themselves are good for you since the manufacturer infuses them with prebiotics, which helps to improve digestive comfort.
With 50 mg of natural caffeine per serving, aided by the addition of L-Theanine which has proven to reduce risks of jitters and deliver “calmer, cleaner” energy boosts. This dosage even means those more tolerant to caffeine can safely take a double serving (100 mg overall) too – keeping you well in control of your intake at all times.
What really impressed me was the addition of B-Vitamins in the exact dosages that caffeine has shown to deplete them by. This goes to show how much research has gone into creating Performance Lab Stim.
In a nutshell, it’s by far the cleanest and most effective caffeine supplement I’ve tried over the years.
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Is Caffeine Good for Runners?
This is an interesting question that I thought I’d answer using my experience in fitness and personal training (as well as enjoying running half-marathons… I’m not quite at full marathon level, though!).
First, let’s answer the question of whether caffeine is effective in helping runners.
Do Caffeine Pills Actually Work?
There’s simply no denying that caffeine “works” in increasing energy levels. All you have to do is drink a cup of coffee to see that it delivers this benefit.
However, not every supplement is actually useful for runners. And too much of a good thing can cause poor results – this is especially true with caffeine.
If you’ve ever consumed one too many cups of coffee before, you’ll know what I mean. You’ll often get jittery side effects, anxiety, and an overwhelming sense of exhaustion after the inevitable energy crash.
As a runner, these are side effects you could most definitely do without. After all, the whole point in you taking caffeine pills is for their performance-enhancing benefits!
How Much Caffeine Should Runners Have?
If you take 50 mg caffeine before a run, then it’s going to give you a slight edge causing no issues – perfect for those days when you could do with a little boost!
For those more tolerant to this stimulant, you could even take a double serving of a 50 mg caffeine per serving (to intake 100 mg overall) which will help you experience benefits without side effects.
On the other hand, take 150 mg or more caffeine and you’re putting yourself more at risk of jittery side effects (in my personal experience and honest opinion). So while it’s said to be safe to consume up to 400 mg caffeine per day, we wouldn’t recommend purposefully going near that figure regularly. Otherwise, you risk impairing your sleep.
As mentioned, it might surprise you to see how little options you have with caffeine pills that contain lower dosages of 75mg or under. That’s why I enjoy having products containing 50 mg caffeine – to stay fully in control of my caffeine intake, without being forced to take more each time I want a slight “kick” before I go running.
How Long Does It Take for a Caffeine Pill to Kick In?
Drink a cup of coffee and see how long it takes for you to feel the effects. It’s usually around 10 minutes and studies have confirmed this to be true.
In terms of caffeine products, a study found that the time for caffeine to take effect was around 10-15 minutes .
As a result, you should aim to take caffeine pills around 15 minutes before you plan on going running to experience the most benefits.
If you’re able to time things correctly, then you can use caffeine to your advantage in that it will help to boost your energy that will enhance your performance effectively.
The Science Behind Consuming Coffee Before a Run
Congratulations, you’ve read through a lot of this article already. Enough to get to… the boring science part.
I’m kidding, of course. I find the science behind how things work super interesting. But I realize many don’t, so I’ll add a quick “bottom line” bit just below now…
Countless Clinical Studies Show that Caffeine Improves Running Performance and Endurance
That’s the answer I’ve given you above. And it’s true.
One study conducted by J D Wiles titled “Effect of caffeinated coffee on running speed, respiratory factors, blood lactate and perceived exertion during 1500m treadmill running,” proved exactly this.
The sports scientists analyzed the performance of human subjects running on a treadmill over a distance of 1500 meters. Some were given caffeine and others were given a placebo (in a double-blind test).
The results were that the subjects given caffeine improved their running performance by decreasing their time taken to run 1500m. This basically led the scientists to state caffeine “could enhance the performance of sustained high-intensity exercise” – a powerful statement.
Best Caffeine Pills Ingredients
When you think of caffeine pills, the first thing that springs to mind is, of course, the main ingredient – caffeine. But if you’re looking to get the best bang for your buck, it’s worth looking out for the other ingredients contained within a supplement you’re interested in buying.
Nowadays, many caffeine supplements on the market use additional nutrients that go hand-in-hand with caffeine.
When combined, these nutrients complement each other nicely to get excellent results that wouldn’t be possible if you were to take each ingredient by itself.
And when a manufacturer uses a formula which comprises the best caffeine pills ingredients, it makes the most widely used natural stimulant in the world even better than when used on its own.
In the following section, I’ll look closer at the best ingredients in caffeine supplements and why you should look out for them when searching for caffeine pills.
First up, I’ll get the obvious answer out of the way. Caffeine is undoubtedly among the most widely used stimulants in the world, and you can find it in various sources such as coffee beans, cacao, and green tea.
As far as caffeine supplements are concerned, you should only opt for one which utilises the cleanest possible source, so you can rest assured that you’re not filling your body with ingredients that just aren’t good for you.
In that case, opting for a supplement which lists ‘natural caffeine’ on its ingredients list is most definitely the way forward.
But that’s not all – it’s also the dosage that you should pay close attention to. Too high of a dosage, then you could end up suffering from various unwanted side effects including energy crashes, gastric distress, jitters, anxiousness, and an accelerated heart rate, among other things.
Luckily, it’s possible to avoid such side effects by choosing a caffeine supplement with a low dosage of caffeine per serving as opposed to one which contains a megadose of caffeine of up to 300 mg which could leave you in a worse position than you were to start with!
Caffeine is an incredibly useful natural stimulant in more ways than one, but when supplemented with on its own, jitters and other unwanted side effects can become a problem.
That’s where L-Theanine steps in – an amino acid that is found naturally in green tea.
Heightening the effects of caffeine, L-Theanine provides you with even better performance than with caffeine alone, but in a calmer and smoother manner.
As a result, it’s safe to say that the combination of caffeine and L-Theanine is a great way to boost your running performance without having to worry about the jitters often caused by an excess intake of caffeine.
One of the most common side effects of caffeine is the inevitable crash that occurs when you consume too much in one serving.
Since you’re looking to improve your running performance, energy crashes are something you’ll obviously want to avoid. Otherwise, it will defeat the object of consuming caffeine in the first place.
That’s what makes L-Tyrosine such a useful ingredient to have within a caffeine supplement, as this precursor amino acid kicks in once the effects of caffeine wear off – ensuring that your attention and mood don’t see a decline.
Besides this, supplementing with L-Tyrosine is also said to delay or prevent the serotonin to dopamine increase.
As a result, you can benefit from the delayed fatigue and increased workout intensity needed to get through even the toughest of runs.
When consuming caffeine, there’s a strong chance that important B vitamins Folate, B6, Riboflavin, and B12 in the body will decline significantly. 
And since each of these vitamins is vital for optimal neurotransmitter synthesis and conversion, as well as cell energy, it’s important to supplement with them if you consume caffeine regularly.
Luckily, the best caffeine pills on the market include the above B-vitamins as part of the ingredients list which helps to counteract the depletion of these nutrients which occurs when consuming caffeine.
As a result, you’ll be able to enjoy an overall healthier experience when using stimulatory supplements such as caffeine pills.
Alternatives to Caffeine Pills
As you’ll now be aware, caffeine pills can undoubtedly be a great performance-enhancing option that can get you running at your best.
Best of all, caffeine also boasts a wide range of other benefits that can help you with other areas of your life too, which includes such things as:
- Increased focus
- Increased alertness
- Lower perceived efforts
But if caffeine pills aren’t really your thing, or you’d just like to try something different, there are other options available on the market that you can make use of.
Read on as I summarize some of the best caffeine pills alternatives, including their benefits and drawbacks.
Particularly if you’re heading out for a long run, optimal levels of energy are exactly what you need. And with a good amount of energy at your disposal, it’ll be far easier to reach your goals and make the most out of every run that you go on.
Caffeine may be one of the first things on your mind when it comes to pushing yourself to the limit, but pre-workout is another viable option that runners can make use of.
There are many pre-workout supplements to choose from on the market nowadays, and many of them include caffeine as one of its main ingredients.
If that’s the case, then I’d recommend not combining caffeine pills and pre-workout, as you could end up consuming far too much caffeine in one serving which could affect your health adversely.
Plus, there’s the fact that many pre-workouts contain megadoses of caffeine of up to 300 mg, which is more than double the amount I’d recommend that you take in one sitting.
Luckily, there are several stim-free pre-workouts available on the market nowadays, which you can safely combine with caffeine pills to improve your running performance drastically.
When stacked together, a stim-free pre-workout and caffeine pills can get you pumped up to enjoy a great run and should go a long way in helping you to reach your running goals, whether that’s weight loss or simply improving your overall performance.
Many people across the globe like to start the day with a good ol’ cup of coffee. And given that this can give you a boost of energy when you need it the most, it’s easy to see why coffee is one of the world’s best hot beverages.
However, the amount of caffeine in an average cup of coffee, which ranges from between 100-200 mg of caffeine, might be a little much for some.
Sure, decaffeinated coffee is available, but not everyone likes the taste of coffee. Plus, the acidic nature of coffee may cause digestive tract irritation in certain individuals, which is obviously more likely the more coffee that you drink!
And if you’re someone who is sensitive to high dosages of caffeine, choosing caffeine pills with a lower dosage per serving is the best way forward.
Luckily, caffeine pills such as Performance Lab® Stim have a dosage of 50 mg of caffeine, which gives you the freedom to up your dosage to a double serving if you’re looking to get an extra boost.
Energy drinks have long been a popular choice among runners, as they are made to do exactly what they say on the tin – boost your energy.
The problem is that many energy drinks on the market come with exceptionally high dosages of caffeine, which could adversely affect your running performance.
Not only that, a good amount of energy drinks come loaded with sugar, and therefore, a bunch of unnecessary calories.
While this will provide you with a quick energy boost, the inevitable crash that comes afterwards is likely to leave you feeling worse off than you were to begin with.
And because of the high number of calories a lot of energy drinks have, they’re most definitely not a great option if you’re running for weight loss.
That’s what makes caffeine pills such a great alternative to energy drinks, as you can enjoy an energy boost without worrying about jeopardizing your calorie goals or encountering the dreaded energy crash.
What to Avoid in a Caffeine Pill
Now that I’ve covered all the aspects of what makes a good caffeine pill, the next step is to look closer at the things you should avoid.
In the following section, I’ll provide more information on how not to use caffeine pills and things that you should look out for before you consider buying any.
High Dosages of Caffeine
If you’re looking to boost your performance while running, caffeine pills can give you that extra kick you need.
But using caffeine pills that have a high dosage per serving means that you could easily overdose on them if you aren’t careful.
As mentioned earlier, research suggests that you can safely consume up to 400 mg a day if you’re a healthy adult.
But if you consume too much caffeine in one go, you risk unwanted side effects such as jitters and energy crashes, which will obviously have a negative impact on your running performance.
And as you strive to reach the next level on your running journey, you could totally do without symptoms such as these!
So, make sure that the caffeine pills you choose have no more than around 100 mg per serving so that you can stay on the safe side.
Ideally, you should choose an option that has 50 mg per serving. That way, you can rest assured that you’re using caffeine pills wisely.
And for those days where you’re not quite feeling it, you could always opt for an extra dose, as 100 mg of caffeine is still a sensible amount in one sitting.
Consuming Them Too Frequently
Taking caffeine pills regularly is undoubtedly a great way to accelerate your performance when running.
But if you rely on them too heavily, it’s likely that you’ll build up a tolerance to caffeine, and its benefits will gradually wear off if you consume caffeine too frequently.
So, if you take caffeine pills regularly and its performance-enhancing benefits appear to have worn off, it may be worth taking a break for a day or two.
Thankfully, you can use caffeine pills that come with a lower dosage of around 50 mg serving, as this will provide the boost you need and may also help you avoid building up a tolerance too quickly.
Taking Them at the Wrong Time
For those times when you find yourself wanting to go running later in the day, caffeine tablets probably aren’t your best option – at least those which contain a high dose of caffeine.
This is because consuming caffeine too close to bedtime, whether in pill form, in a cup of coffee, or otherwise, may prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.
And there are few worse things than getting little to no sleep, as I’m sure you’ll agree!
A viable option, therefore, may be to use a stim-free pre-workout supplement. Or at a push, you can use caffeine tablets which come with a low dosage per serving.
That being said, make sure to err on the side of caution when it comes to taking caffeine tablets later on in the day, particularly if you’re sensitive to caffeine.
If you’re a keen runner looking to get an edge over the competition, or simply hoping to improve on your personal records, then a caffeine pill (containing sensible doses of caffeine) may help improve your performance significantly.
Even for daily use, if you’re looking for coffee alternatives to keep your energy levels up, a caffeine supplement may help massively. Especially if you find one that contains nootropic ingredients.
For me, Performance Lab Stim ticks all boxes; it’s undoubtedly the cleanest and highest quality caffeine supplement I’ve tried and tested on the market.
For that reason, I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it for runners who are looking to take things to the next level and smash their goals.
And thanks to its sensible dosage of 50 mg caffeine per serving, you can avoid any unwanted side effects while having the flexibility to go for another serving if you feel you need an extra boost.