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does creatine help with running

Does Creatine Help with Running? Science and Anecdotes

We’ve all been there—scrolling through the internet, looking for ways to boost our running performance. You’ve probably heard a lot about creatine and how it’s a game-changer for weightlifters and sprinters. But what about distance runners? Does creatine actually help with running? Well, it’s not a simple yes-or-no answer. Let’s dig in!

What Is Creatine, Anyway?

First, let’s talk about what creatine actually is. It’s an amino acid that’s found naturally in foods like red meat and fish. Your body also synthesizes it to fuel your muscles. The most popular form of supplemental creatine is creatine monohydrate, known for increasing muscle strength and improving performance in high-intensity activities. It’s a natural supplement that can boost performance without compromising natty status.

The Benefits of Creatine: More Than Just Muscle Power

Creatine often gets pigeonholed as a supplement solely for bodybuilders or sprinters. However, this amino acid has a range of benefits that can be appreciated by athletes and non-athletes alike. Here’s a breakdown:

Increased Muscle Strength

The most well-known benefit of creatine is its ability to increase muscle strength. By aiding in the formation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), creatine provides a quick energy source, allowing for more powerful muscle contractions during high-intensity activities. Creatine may increase hunger in some individuals.

Enhanced Recovery

Another significant advantage of creatine supplementation is its impact on muscle recovery. After strenuous exercise, taking creatine can accelerate recovery by reducing muscle cell damage and inflammation.

Cognitive Boost

You read that right! Creatine isn’t just for your muscles; it’s also for your brain. Research has shown that creatine can improve cognitive performance, especially in tasks that require quick thinking.

Increased Cell Hydration

One of the cellular effects of creatine is increasing water content in your muscle cells. This may sound like a downside, but cell volumization can actually promote growth and increase performance.

Enhanced Endurance

Though not its most common use, some studies suggest that creatine can help with endurance activities by enhancing the body’s ability to produce energy more efficiently. While the data is not conclusive, it’s certainly a field worthy of more exploration.

Aiding in Medical Conditions

While still an emerging area of research, some studies suggest that creatine can have therapeutic benefits in treating conditions like Parkinson’s and muscular dystrophy.

Creatine and Anaerobic Activities

Research shows that creatine is particularly effective in boosting anaerobic performance. These are short, high-intensity activities like lifting weights or sprinting. Creatine provides quick energy bursts, making it easier to push through intense phases of exercise.

What About Distance Running?

For distance running, which is largely aerobic, the effects of creatine are more contentious. One school of thought argues that since distance running doesn’t rely as much on quick bursts of energy, creatine won’t be as beneficial. Some studies even suggest that creatine may lead to water retention and thus extra weight, which is a no-no for distance runners.

However, there’s also evidence that creatine could be beneficial for distance runners in a more indirect way. For example, improved muscle strength from creatine supplementation can potentially help in uphill running and sprint finishes4.

Real Talk: Anecdotal Evidence

Look, science gives us a great base to work from, but real-world experiences also matter. Some runners swear by creatine for its recovery benefits. Better recovery could mean more efficient training sessions, and over time, improved performance. So, could it work for you? Maybe. It might be worth giving it a shot but consult your healthcare provider first.

Pros and Cons


  • Increased muscle strength
  • Better high-intensity performance
  • Faster recovery


  • Possible water retention
  • Not proven beneficial for aerobic exercises


Does creatine help with running? The answer is a nuanced “it depends.” While the supplement is proven for anaerobic activities, its efficacy for distance running is still up for debate. The best advice? Talk to your healthcare provider and maybe give it a trial run (pun intended).


Disclaimer: The information in this blog is not intended as medical advice. Always consult a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement or exercise regimen.

  1. Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations
  2. Creatine supplementation and exercise performance: a brief review
  3. Creatine but not betaine supplementation increases muscle phosphorylcreatine content and strength performance
  4. Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Muscle Strength and Optimal Individual Post-Activation Potentiation Time of the Upper Body in Canoeists
  5. Creatine supplementation reduces muscle cell damage and inflammation following a half-ironman
  6. Effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function of healthy individuals: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials
  7. Cellular hydration state: an important determinant of protein catabolism in health and disease

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