For some, running produces a natural high. For others, running is the worst of all workouts but a necessary evil for all-around health. However, even for lifelong, devoted runners, sometimes running can feel like a slog.
That’s where cannabis comes in. Thanks to the greater accessibility of legal cannabis, runners around the world are beginning to experiment with cannabinoids in their training, and most are happy with the results.
Here are a few tips for harnessing the power of cannabis, whether running is your favorite or least favorite exercise.
The Benefits of a THC Boost
There are two main benefits to using THC while running:
- improved focus,
- and pain relief.
Improving Your Focus
Most runners are well aware that running long distances is as much a mental game as a physical one. If one’s mind wanders too far from the task at hand or if one’s mind focuses too intently on physical sensations, a runner can become distracted or disheartened and lose the motivation to keep going. The mental fortitude required to continue running can be immense, even insurmountable for some.
THC can be an invaluable tool for boosting the mental stamina required for running longer distances. Though research has yet to confirm the differing anecdotal effects of different cannabis strains, many experienced users firmly believe that there are cannabis varieties that help to improve focus by eliminating distracting thoughts, emotions, and sensations.
These varieties tend to fall into the “Sativa” category — though genetic testing has found little distinction between what users label “Indica” and “Sativa.”
Sativas are known for producing a “head high,” which can give the user energy and boost the mood without causing a loss of coordination. Some researchers believe these effects are likely due to the interaction between cannabinoids and terpenes in Sativa strains. You can talk to a budtender at a legal marijuana dispensary in Michigan or California to find the right kinds of strains for improving focus for running.
Running can hurt — literally. During a training session, runners often experience burning muscles from the buildup of lactic acid. Pain can occur in the muscles, in the joints, in the lungs; some people feel aches in their feet, others in their back. Though intense pain should compel a runner to stop and assess an injury, minor discomfort should be pushed through for the sake of training endurance.
For those who struggle with a low pain tolerance or an inability to focus on anything but aches and discomfort, there is THC. Though CBD has recently taken the spotlight for pain relief properties, THC is well-known for interrupting pain signals in two ways: by reducing the sensation of pain in the brain and by distracting the brain from pain with feelings of euphoria. Thus, a little bit of THC during a run can help a runner go a long way without experiencing disruption or distraction from discomfort.
Potential Side Effects to Watch for
THC can be beneficial — but it can also be detrimental, especially during exercise. It should go without saying that cannabis only helps runners if they don’t use too much. Though THC overdoses are essentially never fatal, except in tragic accidents, they are supremely disadvantageous to running long distances. THC is beneficial in small doses, even microdoses, which will help keep the brain and body functioning mostly as normal and reduce the likelihood of negative side effects.
It might be wise for runners to experiment with dosage before they start integrating THC into their workout regimen. Technically, microdoses of THC include any dose less than 10 milligrams, but some people are much more susceptible to THC’s effects than others and thus need to consume much less to feel positive effects. As the dosage of THC increases, runners should be aware of these potentially negative side effects:
- Anxiety, paranoia, and panic
- Slow reaction time
- Poor coordination
- Increased heart rate
- Decreased blood pressure
It would be wise to keep doses low enough that these side effects are minimal or non-existent for the entire duration of the run.
Cannabis could be a runner’s dream solution to the difficulty of training for long distances — but some runners do enjoy the challenge of overcoming mental and physical impediments to a fitness goal. You can try THC after taking advice from your doctor to see how you feel about integrating it into your running experience.