Whether you like running on a treadmill or engaging in marathons, running can take a lot out of you mentally and physically. Veteran runners know keeping both mind and body in tip-top shape is crucial for success.
You don't have to be an Olympian to leave your opponents biting your dust - maintaining optimum physical and mental health can help you take your running to the next level. The best nootropics for running can help. Let's check out some of the best choices for tapping brainpower to improve your running performance.
How Can Nootropics Improve Running Performance?
Can nootropics help you improve your running performance?
Yes, they can.
Many scientific studies back up this claim. Even if you've undergone rigorous physical training and eaten right for your marathon, don't expect to last long if your mind doesn't cooperate. Even if your body is in the best shape of its life but your mind isn't up to the daunting task, it won't mean anything in the end.
The reason: like any sport, running depends a lot on the mindstate. You need plenty of willpower and determination to succeed in running. A tired or distracted mind can seriously hinder your progress. In fact, it could act as an impediment to that elusive trophy or medal you've always wanted to add to your collection.
Realistically, not all nootropics enhance exercise performance. However, the best ones on the market help you reap the following cognitive benefits:
Focus and Concentration
Surprisingly, the September 2009 issue of Journal of Sports Sciences (via ResearchGate.net) says runners zeroing in on an external focus condition (such as their surroundings) improved their performance:
Trained runners had to focus their attention on three different aspects while running on a treadmill. For three consecutive three 10-minute periods, runners concentrated on the running environment, on their breathing, and on their surroundings. Results showed an increased running economy in the external focus condition.<1>
Key nootropics such as n-acetyl l-tyrosine (NALT) can help serious runners focus on their surroundings and other external focus condition. That way, they can take their performance to the next level.
Energy and Stamina
Running is an endurance sport. The June 2016 issue of the science journal Breathe defines this term appropriately:
Among the different types of exercise training, predominantly aerobic activities appear best suited to attain favourable metabolic and cardiovascular effects. Endurance sports are characterised by repeated isotonic contractions of large skeletal muscle groups. Classical examples include running, swimming, and cycling among summer sports, and cross-country skiing or speed skating among winter sports.<2>
When you run regularly, it's imperative to increase your energy and stamina levels. Top-notch nootropics help the runner do this by regulating the mind and body's natural energy synthesis pathways. More specifically, these mind enhancers help increase adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and circulatory oxygen flow. As a result, runners can cover longer distances and achieve their daily and long-term fitness goals.
Motivation and Intensity
If you've been running for years, it's not uncommon to hit the proverbial brick wall. Sometimes, you experience low motivation or mental burnout whose root cause varies (personal matters, work-related concerns, health issues, etc.). Nonetheless, the best nootropics help enhance neurochemical pathways to motivation. This eventually paves the way for intense training and running.
Nootropics help improve motivation in two ways:
- Increasing catechomaline activity: Increased levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine help enhance mood.<3>
- Increasing energy levels: When a runner has increased energy, his mood and motivation improve. Not only that, but he also ward off burnout and fatigue.
Running (and physical exercise in general) is a great way to keep stress levels in check. It helps reverse the negative effects of stress on memory and learning, per Brigham Young University associate professor of physiology and developmental biology Jeff Edwards:
Exercise is a simple and cost-effective way to eliminate the negative effects on memory of chronic stress.
Of course, we can't always control stress in our lives, but we can control how much we exercise. It's empowering to know that we can combat the negative impacts of stress on our brains just by getting out and running.<4>
While moderate exercise does wonders for the mind and body, intense exercise such as marathons can increase the stress levels of athletes. There are two kinds of stress which runners have to deal with:
- Cortisol: This is the dreaded stress hormone which the adrenal gland produces. Untreated high cortisol amounts can result in serious health issues.<5>
- Oxidative stress (free radical damage): Simply put, this is when free radicals outnumber antioxidants in your body. Oxidative stress also has dire consequences on one's health.<6>
The key here is for runners to supplement with adaptogen and antioxidant nootropics. These offset the detrimental effects of excessive stress and free radical damage.
Benefits of Running for the Mind
Running doesn't just benefit the body, it also benefits the mind. Here are the mental benefits:
- Enhances cognitive function: Running increases blood flow to the brain. This helps an individual think more clearly.
- Changes brain wiring: Runners experience a change in brain wiring. The cognitive demands of running improves their overall cognition and working memory.
- Boosts executive function: This refers to top-down mental processes which involves tackling the unexpected with flexibility, thinking things over before taking action, resisting temptations, and maintaining focus.
- Boosts cognitive flexibility: Studies have proven running helps improve cognitive flexibility (the ability to switch from one task to the other on a computer).<7>
- Makes positive changes in brain chemicals: Running helps increase circulation of endocannabinoids - chemicals which assist in many bodily functions (appetite, metabolism, sleep, digestion, reproduction, movement, etc.).
- Regulates emotions: A quick 30-minute run can help an individual manage his emotions. If you are susceptible to negative emotions such as depression, you can handle them much better.
- Boosts learning: Some studies reveal running helps increase dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels. When this happens, an individuals improves his learning abilities.<8>
Bottom line: running not only has immense benefits for physical health, but mental health as well. When you read books, run, and take a reputable nootropic, you are stimulating your mind and boosting your overall daily productivity.
Mind Lab Pro® Nootropics for Runners
Rhodiola rosea is a popular adaptogenic herb which enhances both physical and mental performance.
Runners experience high cortisol and oxidative stress levels because of their intense and demanding lifestyle. Rhodiola rosea helps keep stress hormone levels in check and improves the runner's physical and mental performance.
Plus, "Polyphenols in Rhodiola rosea may decrease the risk of acquiring virus infections following rigorous exercise by inhibiting oxidative stress," per the July 31, 2015 issue of Frontiers in Nutrition (via NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov).<9>
Other studies also support its ability to ward off inflammation.
This nootropic ingredient also helps improve mood. Runners also experience mood issues. If they leave these unchecked, they cannot perform to the best of their abilities. Rhodiola rosea has shown promising anti-depressant benefits which enhance mood.
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT)
N-acetyl l-tyrosine (NALT) is an acetylated form of the amino acid l-tyrosine. The latter helps produce dopamine and noradrenaline.
For its part, NALT helps sustain cognitive alertness during stressful situations. Catecholamines such as dopamine and norepinephrine helps improve one's mood and focus. When a runner feels stressed, his catechomaline levels plummet. As a result, his cognitive performance isn't up to the task. Supplementing with NALT offsets that.
NALT also helps keep cortisol (stress hormone) levels in check. More specifically, it helps protect the brain from stress hormones. Less stress bodes well for a runner's long-term physical and mental performance.
More importantly, NALT gives runners a second mental wind - if they're on the brink of mental exhaustion, NALT gives them the push they need. The reason: this component helps increase mental performance and alertness. It also helps increase exercise tolerance.<10>
Citicoline (Cytidine 5'-diphosphocholine or CDP-choline) is a natural water-soluble compound and nootropic which helps produce choline for the body. Choline, in turn, is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (a brain chemical which helps improve memory, learning, and neuromuscular function).
By increasing acetylcholine levels, citicoline also improves neuromuscular function and muscular performance. Choline also supplies the brain with cytidine, a nucleoside molecule and precursor to uridine (a nucleotide which helps enhance ATP energy production).
In other words, by enhancing brain energy levels, citicoline also helps improve athletic performance - a perfect benefit for every hard-training runner.<11>
Citicoline also has several other vital neurological benefits:
- Regenerates brain cell membranes: Citicoline does this by increasing phosphotidylcholine (which makes up approximately 30 percent of brain tissue) levels. As a result, it also helps ward off age-related cognitive decline.
- Promotes brain circulation: Because citicoline helps promote healthy cerebral blood flow, it helps bring key nutrients and oxygen to the brain.
- Protects the brain: Citicoline also provides the brain with valuable antioxidants which help stifle free radical activity. One of its by-products, phostphatidylcholine, strengthens brain cell membranes as well.
L-theanine is an amino acid and natural ingredient of green tea which increases alpha brain wave activity which enhance mood, creative thinking, and mental clarity.
L-theanine also helps one make the transition into a state of wakeful relaxation without feeling drowsy or sleepy.<12> Studies credit this to l-theanine's ability to increase alpha brainwaves. Experts consider l-theanine as a great nootropic ingredient for activities such as studying, research, and other related activities.
L-theanine can also cross the blood-brain barrier to help regulate the brain chemicals GABA, dopamine, and serotonin for a more relaxed state. It can also inhibit activity of the excitatory brain chemical l-glutamate. Research has associated high l-glutamate levels with stress, agitation, and brain degeneration. On that note, l-theanine can also help ward off age-related cognitive decline.
L-theanine can help the anxious runner settle into a relaxed state, reduce anxiety, and increase focus. Plus, many runners also rely on caffeine. While caffeine certainly has several important health benefits, high amounts can produce certain side effects. L-theanine helps offset the stimulatory side effects of caffeine - the main reason why it's in many pre-workout smart caffeine formulations.
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a phospholipid and component of cell membranes. These membranes perform a wide range of crucial brain-related activities which include:
- Synthesize neurotransmitters
- Send and receive electrical impulses
- Facilitate nutrient and oxygen absorption into brain cells
- Inhibit toxins from entering brain cells
- Communicate with the immune system
Experts consider phosphatidylserine one of the most research-backed nootropics on the market today. It helps increase brainpower in two ways:
- Maintains cell membrane fluidity and flexibility: PS is the driving force behind the neurotransmission which has links to thinking and memory.
- Supplies an important phospholipid building block: This component plays a key role in brain regeneration, repair, and neurogenesis.
Perhaps PS' most important benefit for runners is its ability to increase brain energy levels and enhance cognitive function prior to exercise. A study which researchers published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in October 2011 reveals "PS supplementation significantly increased cognitive function prior to exercise" which "could benefit athletes and non-athletes alike."<13>
In general, B vitamins help improve cardiovascular function and increase energy levels - two vital benefits for hard-training athletes. More specifically, B vitamins helps convert whole food into glucose (blood sugar) - a key player in ATP energy conversion. Runners can increase their stamina and cover longer distances with B vitamin intake.
On the other hand, the February 2016 issue of Nutrients (via NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov) breaks down the neurological benefits of B vitamins:
The B vitamins' general metabolic functions, alongside their roles in neurochemical synthesis, may therefore be conceived as having a particular impact on brain function. Indeed, the importance of the B vitamins for brain function is illustrated by the fact that each vitamin is actively transported across the blood brain barrier and/or choroid plexus by dedicated transport mechanisms.<14>
The key takeaway: B vitamins can help improve the runner's physical and mental performance. When he takes a top-notch nootropic with B vitamins, he can conquer whatever obstacle lies in his path.
Mind Lab Pro®️ supplies some of the best nootropics for running intensity, energy, focus, and motivation.
Runners need to stay mentally sharp so they can perform at peak levels consistently. Nootropics can help these individuals boost their cognitive function for better long-term results.
- Mind Lab Pro®️ nootropics may help with various aspects of running, making it a strong choice for mental and physical performance.
Whether you're a recreational or professional runner, Mind Lab Pro®️ can help improve energy levels, focus, stress resistance, and motivation which make a profound impact on training results.
Bonus Nutrition for Running that Stacks Effectively with Mind Lab Pro®
Want even more support for improving your running performance? Consider stacking Mind Lab Pro®️ with the following
Performance Lab® Energy
A Performance Lab® Core formula that stacks well with Mind Lab Pro® for superior running results is Performance Lab® Energy, which enhances mitochondrial support for increased cell energy and life vitality.
With premium ingredients such as acetyl l-carnitine, R-lipoic acid, and coenzyme Q10, Performance Lab® Energy supports ATP energy production, mitochondrial genesis and function, fat metabolism and overall metabolic efficiency.
For runners, these translate to increased energy, vitality, endurance, and fat loss. Performance Lab® Energy helps runners increase their energy stores for the toughest races imaginable.
Performance Lab® SPORT Pre-Workout
A Performance Lab® SPORT formula that stacks well with Mind Lab Pro® for superior running results include is SPORT Pre-Workout, our muscle-priming sports nutrition for high-intensity training.
Performance Lab® SPORT Pre-Workout features ingredients such as creatine, cordyceps, l-citrulline, l-glutamine, l-carnosine, Himalayan pink salt, and maritime pine bark extract.
These components enhance muscle energy, buffer lactic acid, increase blood flow to muscles, replenish depleted electrolyte stores, and improve overall muscle function. Runners will increase their endurance and keep fatigue at bay more efficiently.
Opti-Nutra™ Quality + Mind-Body Stacking = Superior Running Mileage
If you are interested in stacking multiple supplements to boost your strength, intensity, and running mileage, it's a good idea to source all your supplements from one place: Opti-Nutra™ Advanced Nutraceuticals.
Stacking Opti-Nutra™ Mind Lab Pro® + Performance Lab® SPORT means you get guaranteed quality across the board.
All Opti-Nutra™ supplements are non-GMO, non-irradiated, and free of gluten, caffeine, synthetic additives, artificial colors, preservatives and banned substances.
All are also delivered in 100% vegan, prebiotic-infused NutriCaps® made from pullulan (fermented tapioca). And above all, Opti-Nutra delivers the advanced formulation strategies and premium ingredients that can enhance performance naturally, for the superior running results you seek.
- Schucker, Linda et al. The Affect of Attentional Focus on Running Economy. J Sports Sci. 2009 Sep; 27(12):1241-1248.
- Morici, Guiseppe et al. Endurance Training: Is It Bad for You? Breathe (Sheff). 2016 Jun; 12(2):140-147.
- El Mansari, Mostafa et al. Relevance of Norepinephrine-Dopamine Interactions in the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2010 Jun; 16(3): e1-e17.
- Hollingshead, Todd. Running Helps the Brain Counteract Negative Effect of Stress, Study Finds. 2018 Feb 14. BYU.edu.
- Maglione-Garves, Christine A. et al. Cortisol Connection: Tips on Managing Stress and Weight. UNM.edu.
- Hybertson, Brooks M. et al. Oxidative Stress in Health and Disease: The Therapeutic Potential of Nrf2 Activation. Mol Aspects Med. 2011 August-December; 32(4-6):234-246.
- Venckunas, Tomas et al. Interval Running Improves Cognitive Flexibility and Aerobic Power of Young Healthy Adults. J Strength Cond Res. 2016 Aug; 30(8): 2114-2121.
- Winter, Bernward et al. High Impact Running Improves Learning. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2007 May; 87(4):597-609.
- Ahmed, Maryam et al. Rhodiola rosea Exerts Antiviral Activity in Athletes Following a Competitive Marathon Race. Front Nutr. 2015 Jul 31; 2:24.
- Avraham, Y. et al. Tyrosine Improves Appetite, Cognition, and Exercise Tolerance in Activity Anorexia. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Dec; 33(12):2104-2110.
- Silveri, M.M. et al. Citicoline Enhances Frontal Lobe Bioenergetics as Measured by Phosphorus Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy. NMR Biomed. 2008 Nov; 21(10):1066-1075.
- Nobre, A.C. et al. L-Theanine, A Natural Constituent in Tea, and Its Effect on Mental State. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008; 17 Suppl 1: 167-168.
- Parker, A.G. et al. The Effects of IQPLUS Focus on Cognitive Function, Mood, and Endocrine Response Before and Following Acute Exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2011 Oct 21; 8:16.
- Kennedy, David O. B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficiency - A Review. Nutrients. 2016 Feb; 8(2): 68.