We get asked about natural supplements for runners quite often, and the fact is that many of the herbs, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients you may already be taking will provide the benefits you need for running.
Still, there are some things that you can add to your regimen to give you the specific benefits, namely energy, stamina, recovery ability and perhaps pain relief, that you may be looking for.
Here we discuss your options for addressing each of those key areas with herbs, individual and more comprehensive supplements that can help you out.
At the core of your regimen as a runner, as well as a non-runner for that matter, should be a comprehensive multivitamin. This is a daily supplement that contains a mix of vitamins, minerals, herbal extracts, amino acids and other important nutrients that your body needs and may be lacking in your diet.
Start With the Basics
A multi-vitamin is the core of any supplementation program. On top of that, one of the supplements we recommend for runners is fish oil, which offers enormous benefits for your body as a whole, but specifically your heart health, which is an obvious focus for runners, especially marathoners.
Assuming that you already take a good multivitamin and you probably take fish oil (if you don't, definitely consider it), you can move on to more specific herbs and nutrients.
Supplements for Energy
Everyone needs energy...runners need more for obvious reasons. Consider the various energy boosting herbs such as ginger and turmeric, which aid digestion and in turn increase your energy levels, as well as those that stimulate such as siberian ginseng, maitake and gotu kola.
Besides the herbal extracts you should consider a B vitamin supplement, especially one with B12, biotin and folic acid, all powerful energy boosters. Although you will be getting those vitamins in a multi, you may need an additional supplement as it won't be present in very high concentrations.
Another great supplement for energy is bee pollen extract, considered a superfood because it is jam-packed with all of the nutrients needed to sustain life.
Lastly, consider MSM, DMAE and NADH, all natural compounds that have been shown to boost energy levels and fight off fatigue.
Supplements for Stamina and Recovery
Many of the above nutrients will help with stamina and recovery as well as energy, but as far as other supplements for runners consider creatine, branched chain amino acids, sodium phosphate, glutamine, iron and of course, protein.
All of these will help you last longer, which is key especially for marathoners and other long distance runners.
Supplements for Pain
If you find yourself in pain after a long run, there are supplements for runners that can help with pain relief. There are a number of powerful herbs for pain, including willow bark, devil's claw, curcumin, ginger, boswellia, valerian and arnica.
Also consider glucosamine and chondroitin, two well-researched joint pain supplements, as well as SAM-e and something called green lipped mussel. All of these supplements can help ease pain and discomfort after a long run.
As you can see, there are many different runners supplements out there, and it can get very confusing as far as what to take a when. Your best bet is to decide what your needs are, and discuss it with your doctor before starting supplementation.
A multivitamin is typically a safe bet, but some of the herbs and other supplements may interact with medications that you are currently taking. They are all considered safe, and you will likely not have an issue, but it always pays to check it out first just to make sure.
Start off with a healthy diet with adequate protein, carbohydrates and fats, get yourself a high quality multivitamin supplement and add fish oil and any other supplements for runners that are safe for you to take.