Do a bong hit. Sink into the couch. Get lost in Youtube. Play video games. Eat a pizza. Pass out on the couch. Drool.
Welcome to Stereotypes in Weed!
The arc from bong hit to drooling on the couch isn’t complete fiction. The parade of stoner events is familiar to many of us — and sometimes, hey, the whole spectacle of sloth is a gas.
But as all of us in Real People in Weed understand, consuming our favorite plant provokes a diversity of effects and experiences, including exercise. Running, mountain biking, skiing, surfing, soccer — just about every sport includes enthusiasts who savor pursuing athletic endeavors while stoned.
Get into the Zone
The reasons are manifold, but generally fall into a few broad categories: cannabis can help relieve boredom, which is especially useful for endurance jocks; cannabis can help some of us merge with the “zone,” that athletic space where body, mind and movement come together in something almost symphonic; and cannabis can help relieve pain, largely by nudging our mind away from the knee’s pinching IT band and towards something else — the breeze coming off the ocean, the variety of birds in the forest, the simple pleasure of a body in motion.
In many ways, the three categories overlap, and it all has to do with the mind: getting into the zone helps relieve boredom, and it also persuades the mind to overlook pain.
And it’s not just about THC. Other cannabinoids in marijuana, including (especially) CBD, increasingly are embraced by athletes.
Boredom, Sports, and Marijuana
Some endurance sports, like ultrarunning, are well-known for the weed-enthusiasm among their participants. Ultrarunning begins with 50-mile races, and 100-milers are common worldwide. Some are even longer. It’s a tough sport, not only on the body but also the mind.
Cannabis helps. Ultrarunners rely upon pot to suppress boredom as they reach mile 20, as they trudge towards mile 62, as the 100-mile mark still remains 20 miles away.
“Everything was just so much more pretty,” said professional trail runner Avery Collins to Leafly about the first time he ran while high. Collins, a Steamboat Springs, CO athlete who routinely wins highly competitive 100-mile races, added: “I didn’t think about anything else besides the run itself and what was going on at that moment. At the end of the day it makes the greens greener and the blues bluer.”
As most of us understand, pot makes all sorts of things previously filed under dull — passing clouds, a busy ant hill, the flavor of a saltine — utterly engrossing. The boredom-quashing powers of the plant bloom, too, during exercise.
Getting Into the Stoned Zone
The “zone” is the place to be for most athletes. It happens when cyclists pump up long climbs and lose themselves to the ascent; when skiers leap into steep tree runs; when volleyball players seem to intuitively anticipate what opponents on the other team will do next, and over and over again turn these insights into wins. And for runners it even has a name — “runner’s high.”
The high that runners (and many other athletes) savor has connections to weed, and specifically CBD. Recent research shows that the cannabinoid communicates with something called anandamide, which is one of the two primary endocannabinoids in the body’s endocannabinoid system. Researchers believe anandamide is vital for the blossoming of runner’s high, and CBD can help stimulate anandamide in such a way that the runner’s high is achieved more rapidly. It turns out not everybody has the same access to runner’s high — for some, it gets triggered with relative ease, and for others only rarely. But CBD could be a key to opening the doors to the runner’s high in more and more people.
Another way of thinking about the “zone”: Living in the moment. Has there every been a substance that better nurtures “carpe diem”? Embracing the present is a high hallmark, and it has proven invaluable for jocks.
It’s another arrow in an endurance athlete’s quiver — fully embracing one foot after the other, and loving it — but it works for athletes like mountain bikers, too, who depend upon fast reflexes and a sort of merging of woman-with-mountain to glide down the mountain fast.
Cannabis Fights Pain
This should come as no surprise to people who have signed-up for medical cannabis cards — pain is a primary, legitimate reason for gaining access to medical marijuana.
Legitimate because it works. And the route towards pain-relief is unique in the medical world. Instead of dulling pain — as well as just about everything else (see: opiates) — cannabis instead directs pain-sufferers’ attention away from the throbbing rotator cuff or the cut to the ankle and towards more pleasing things, like the feeling of the ocean while waiting in the line-up for a wave.
In addition, research is mounting into pain-killing (rather than just pain-forgetting) properties of cannabis. And again, CBD emerges as a strong area of scientific research.
In particular — and this is of extreme interest to athletes — research indicates that CBD helps manage inflammation, a constant source of pain for people engaged with sports. Post-sports pain can range from highly annoying to nearly crippling, and more and more athletes are turning to CBD to deal with it. Said Nate Diaz, a UFC star who publicly took hits from a CBD-filled vape pen after a fight: “It’s CBD. It helps with the healing process and inflammation, stuff like that.”
In short, it's time to up your workout game be you a born athlete or an aspiring competitor. Cannabis just might be your best teammate!
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