Whether it’s ultramarathoners or bodybuilders, cannabis is helping athletes to train, being used for everything from an anti-inflammatory to an anti-anxiety. Does that mean it’s a performance-enhancing drug?
Athletes are using cannabis as a performance-enhancer
While it’s easy to assume that Avery Collins, a 25-year-old ultramarathoner, is talking about being elevated, he is actually talking about something even more natural than weed, which is the runner’s high. But, in an interview with The Guardian, Collins also talks about how edibles have helped him compete and complete in 30 ultramarathons.
For me, it’s a spiritual happening. Everything is perfect, everything is pure bliss.
While the ultra-marathoner is definitely not the stereotypical stoner that lives on junk food and video games, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t use cannabis, as Collins believes that it not only helps his performance but also enhances the experience of the races, which are anywhere from 31 to 100 miles in length.
In the last three years alone, Collins has completed 30 ultramarathons and also a 200-mile race through the Rocky Mountains, the latter of which he won with a time of 65 hours. It was during the 200-mile race that Collins had edibles, before and during a run, which definitely didn’t slow him down.
It helps me stay in the moment and embrace what’s going on right then and there.
He recalls that his first time combining pot and running was amazing, but Collins also said that, while he enjoys running high, he never uses it during races. Furthermore, he reckons that his success should not be credited to cannabis, either.
That’s just as well since the World Anti-Doping Agency lists cannabis as a banned substance (in competition), which is why some are asking the question if cannabis is actually a performance-enhancing drug?
Battling pain, fatigue and anxiety
Even though it is on the banned list, many athletes are finding that running on weed is a good way to avoid fatigue, as well as a pain-reliever and anti-inflammatory medication. Some runners even use it to battle boredom or anxiety, too, especially on longer runs.
It’s not just Collins that is using weed, as another ultramarathoner, Jenn Shelton, said in an interview with Wall Street Journal that she uses cannabis in her training.
Of course, another high-profile athlete that used it for training was Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was seen celebrating with a joint at the end of the iconic documentary that is Pumping Iron.
And of course, Michael Phelps won a record number of gold medals at the Rio Olympics, and is a confirmed cannabis consumer.
The professional side of things
Since such athletes are using cannabis, the industry has also been trying to find its place in the long-distance running scene, which has seen Collins being sponsored by Incredibles and Roll-uh-Bowl. And, taking it mainstream, Cresco Labs (cannabis cultivation company) recently sponsored the Chicago Marathon.
To help stop the negative stigma that comes with using cannabis as a training aid, the Four-Twenty Games (held at eight locations from Los Angeles to Las Vegas) was started in 2015, which helps show that people who use cannabis are not the aforementioned stereotypical stoner.