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Ultrarunners, CBD, and Cannabis

CBD has taken the sports world by storm.

It’s quickly becoming one of the most popular supplements for athletes due to its pain-fighting and anti-inflammatory benefits. From NFL, NHL, and NBA players to MMA fighters and your everyday average athlete, CBD has become the go-to for countless people who enjoy getting their game on.

Another group of athletes finding power in CBD?

Runners. Especially ultrarunners.

Why are Ultrarunners Using CBD?

Whether you regularly run short distances or are training for your next 50K, you’re probably well aware that hitting the pavement or trails can take a serious toll on your body.

Regular runners are no strangers to injury. Ultrarunning takes your regular run a step (or quite a few) further to the tune of an average of 50K. Some ultrarunners go for 100 mile races. To say injury is common in ultrarunning would almost be putting it mildly.

Some of the most common injuries sustained by long-distance runners include:

  • Achilles tendinopathy
  • Shin splints
  • ACL injuries
  • Peroneal tendinitis
  • Hamstring strain
  • Twisted ankles

Needless to say, ultrarunning takes not only a lot of endurance but a serious commitment to pushing your body to the ultimate limit.

Rather than continuing to reach for a bottle of ibuprofen to relieve pain and inflammation associated with these injuries (and running long distances in general), ultrarunners have begun to turn to CBD instead.

Why CBD?

For one, it’s a safe alternative to over-the-counter pain meds that countless runners (and other athletes) take on a regular basis. While pain relievers like acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) do work to relieve pain, they come with some pretty scary side effects not everyone is aware of.

OTC pain pills may relieve pain, but regular use (which is common in ultrarunners) can lead to some serious health consequences.

Some of these health risks associate with the use of NSAIDs include:

  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Ulcers
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Kidney damage/failure

Some of the health risks associated with the use of acetaminophen include:

  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Liver damage/failure
  • Severe skin allergies
  • Increased risk of some cancers

These are but a few of the side effects and health risks associated with common OTC medications countless people take on a regular basis. Crazy, right?

It’s no wonder so many ultrarunners are turning to CBD instead.

What are the Benefits of CBD for Ultrarunners?

CBD has created quite the buzz in the ultrarunning community. No, it’s not getting runners high. But it does have some crazy amazing benefits for those who get high off running long distances.

For one, there’s the unprecedented ability of CBD to help reduce inflammation.

A 2017 study, for example, found that CBD helped reduce inflammation in animal models with arthritis.

CBD can also help reduce pre-run anxiety, which many ultrarunners are obviously familiar with. Running 30-100 miles can be a bit intimidating, wouldn’t you say?

The topical application of CBD is also known to offer serious localized inflammation and pain-relief for sore muscles, joints, and tendons following a long-distance run.

Honestly, why wouldn’t ultrarunners find benefit in CBD. It’s truly no wonder the popularity of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid has taken off in the ultrarunning community. It’s awesome pain relief, injury recovery, and more.

While CBD is something countless regular and ultrarunners alike are finding benefits their running routine, it’s not the only cannabinoid they’re finding holds benefit for their favorite pastime. THC is also extremely popular amongst some long-distance runners.

Check it out.

Are There Other Cannabinoids Ultrarunners are Interested In?

Did you know that famous “runner’s high” is actually associated with the body’s endocannabinoid system?

It’s true. Running and smoking weed offer much of a similar effect.

We’re not saying ultrarunners are getting blazed before hitting the trail.

But there are several ultrarunners that are using THC before they run, something many elite runners contend has been a part of the trail running scene before cannabis suddenly became so trendy.

Take Avery Collins, ultrarunner who contends cannabis helps not only get him in the zone, but also with the pain and inflammation associated with long-distance runs.

In a 2016 interview, Collins said he began training with cannabis after his college roommate asked him if he’d ever smoked before running.

“I’d never really thought about it,” Collins said. “But then I gave it a whirl. I smoked a bowl and then ran one of my favorite parks and it was amazing.”

Cannabis soon became a part of his regular running routine.

“To run 100 straight miles, I could be out running for 28 straight hours. Once you stop, you sit down and it’s crazy, your body has been so used to running for over a day it thinks it’s still going, so your muscles just throb and throb and all of a sudden it stops and everything swells up,” contended Collins. “That’s where cannabis plays a really big part. With its various medical compounds, you can really cut down not only on the fatigue, but you can calm the muscles and shoot down the inflammation.”

Collins is definitely onto something there. A 2009 review looked at the numerous studies that highlight cannabinoids (including THC and CBD) as novel anti-inflammatory drugs.

And while there aren’t many studies that have been conducted on the effects cannabis has on focus, there are several athletes (ultrarunners and otherwise) that say a pre-game toke or two can really help put them in the zone.

Take Jim McAlpine, founder of the infamous 420 Games and San Francisco cannabis-friendly gym Power Plant Fitness, for example.

In a recent article in Men’s Health, McAlpine had the following to say about why so many athletes embrace the use of cannabis: “It activates your brain and gets you in the Zone. I love to smoke before I ski or mountain bike or go surfing. It puts me in a place of higher focus, the Eye of the Tiger type thing. It’s not for everyone, but for some people who are more athletic and coordinated, it works.”

Other athletes speak about the “flow state” they get when smoking pot before a workout.

For some ultrarunners, this focus could be exactly what they need for that extra push, whether 40, 50, or almost 100 miles in. It’s their edge and they use it whether for recovery or for keeping sane during a long grueling race.

Final Thoughts on Ultrarunning, CBD, and Cannabis

It seems that CBD certainly has its place in the lives of many ultrarunners pushing their bodies to the limit.

Not only does it offer natural relief from pain and inflammation but is also known to be beneficial for stress and anxiety.

If you’re regularly putting many miles in on the trail, CBD could be exactly what you need to naturally find the relief you need.

When it comes to consuming cannabis that contains THC, well, that’s ultimately up to you.

We can speak from experience, however, that consuming cannabis or CBD before a run, a day on the slopes, or stepping onto our yoga mat has significantly improved our experience on more than one occasion.

We can’t see how ultrarunning would be any different.

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