Running is good for health and an affordable form of exercise so it’s no wonder millions enjoy a jog.
Although many of us just do it for fun and to lose some weight, some decide to test their bodies and fitness competing in the likes of 10K races and marathons.
Training for the likes of these events though can be long, tedious, monotonous and uncomfortable but some runners have found a solution to ease their pain.
28-year-old Carolyn Ford (whose name has been changed for anonymity) is a public relations professional living in New York City.
A keen runner, in 2013 she began training for her first ever 100-mile ultra-marathon which involved monotonous four to five hour training sessions.
The thing Carolyn thought would make her training sessions more bearable was weed.
Not only did cannabis help calm her nerves, she said, but it also gave her the appetite she needed to fuel up on food during training sessions which would see her burn thousands of calories.
She told Tonic:
I would put on all of my running› clothes and at the door I would take three or four gravity bong hits and then immediately start the run.
Running while stoned is therapeutic. It helps me concentrate on the small movements of my body and adapt accordingly to improve my form.
As attitudes towards cannabis relax in certain societies more and more athletes are sharing their alternative approach to pain relief.
In 2016 a study found that cannabis was the second most recreationally used drug among athletes with alcohol being number one.
Despite the benefits claimed by users, doctors are still reluctant to recommend that people supplement exercise with weed.
One of the reasons why is that little research has been done into the athletes’ claims and the studies that have been done are not overwhelmingly in agreement.
Last year for example, a review of 15 studies published over the past 40 years concluded that the main psychoactive component in marijuana tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was not associated with improvements in performance or strength.
Mitch Earleywine, a professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Albany and author of Understanding Marijuana, spoke to Tonic about the research.
We have seen increases in respiratory capacity, but the results are far from conclusive and tend to be small.
And while the impact on pain is well established, it’s very dependent on dose. Too little seems to be of little help, and too much can actually make pain worse.
I’m apprehensive about the idea of [using] an analgesic during sporting events simply because injured athletes [could] end up hurting themselves worse instead of stopping when they should.
As Earleywine references, some research has even concluded that weed can impair exercise making people more fatigued possibly due to an increase in heart rate.
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Doctors’ and experts’ reservations though won’t stop runners and other athletes from continuing to experiment with cannabis.
Avery Collins for example, often competes in races that cover distances of 100 miles or more.
Like Carolyn, he began to work weed into his training regime about four years ago often using edibles or a vape pen he carries with him while running.
Since day one, he has seen the benefits saying:
The immediate difference I noticed was that I didn’t mind what speed I was going, I was more fulfilled and happy with every run, and found that I just enjoyed every run much more.
I honestly can’t tell you the last time I met an ultra-runner who wasn’t also a cannabis user.
I’ve taken too much, and I sat on the couch for hours. That’s torture for me.
Collins concludes by emphasising if anyone wants to try out the method themselves, always start out with small dosages.
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.