Let’s get one thing straight—I am not a marijuana person. Da weed, ganja, trees, etc. My experience with marijuana is so scant I had to ask my husband, who has historically partaken in the drug more often, for the actual slang words. I am, however, an avid runner who needs a good ice bath every now and then, so when I heard that some cannabis products can provide both energy and muscle recovery, I decided to give them a “test run.” Because, why not?
The first step, of course, was figuring out why I should bother going “green” with this part of my life. For fellow newbs like me, here’s a little rundown on why cannabis could make for a way better post-training protocol than throwing back the standard dosage of ibuprofen (that stuff causes liver damage over time, didn’t you know?).
The presence of CBD, aka Cannabidiol. This is how deep my ignorance goes—I think of weed as solely a recreational drug that elicits a psychoactive high, when really, it’s this little chemical portion called “THC” (Tetrahydrocannabinoil) that creates that fun, anxiety-releasing feeling of euphoria. CBDs, on the other hand, are another chemical entirely that don’t produce that traditional “high,” but have some of the same anxiety-lessening benefits. Generally, CBD and THC work better together than in isolation—kind of like how I prefer running with a buddy— so there will always be a trace of THC to balance things out. So obviously, treat it as you would any other medication—with caution.
It’s super relaxing and anti-inflammatory. Both THC and CBD have been shown to have multiple medical benefits, but CBD shines a little brighter in this arena. It not only reduces anxiety and boosts energy, it can treat inflammation and pain. If there’s one thing I know after a 2-mile sprint, track intervals, or double-digit runs (or a solid cross-training workout), soreness is a big deal, as is the lactic acid burn. Anything that can help reduce the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is a winner in my book.
Sounds appealing right?
I had an 8-mile trail run planned for this morning, so I decided this was the perfect time to experiment with some vaping, as a pre-run energy boost. Inhaling some green-powered vapor has never been par for the course. As any endurance athlete knows, the struggle for breath is real, especially on uphill sprints, so the idea of vaping, or inhaling anything that could potentially leave you in a coughing fit isn’t exactly the most enticing thought. That coupled with the fact I’ve probably smoked twice in my entire life (we’re talking single, sad little puffs here) left me feeling a little nervous. But, hey, I had to do it. Because science.
About 30 minutes before my run, I inserted a Sour Diesel cartridge (read: high THC for energy) into the ABX vape pen and followed the instructions: 5 clicks to turn on, 2 clicks to select your damage: green for a low-intensity dose, blue for medium, red for max that f***er out, and then 3 clicks to pre-heat the battery before inhaling. Naturally, I went for green. Now, for the fun part: I inhaled and blew out the most magical, twirling vapors of perfectly formed O-rings that coalesced into a smokey flume before my eyes.
Okay, that’s a lie.
Here’s what really happened:
First, I struggled to actually inhale. Oh, I should probably inhale through my mouth, kind of, right? Am I inhaling right now? Then I got the hang of it, and took a really long inhalation that, disclaimer: fellow newbs? Don’t do a long inhale on your first try. When I exhaled, it was less the fancy O-rings I envisioned and more like a sputtering engine on fire. I coughed wildly, flumes coming from my nose and mouth, eyes watering, and a look of disbelief on my face. In short, it wasn’t sexy. Thankfully, the burning sensation passed within a matter of minutes and I felt as I did pre-vape. Okay, I had a little less swagger in my step, but rite of passage, right?
I started off in a slow jog that grew into a 9-minute pace to warm up my body. I was probably 15 minutes into my run, topping out on the hill and finding my stride, when it hit me: my heartbeat was soaring, but it was different than the usual cardiovascular effort. It wasn’t nerve-wracking or taxing, though I did have a moment where my cardiologist dad entered my thoughts. I must have tachycardia! Instead, I felt great, a true rush of adrenaline and a noticeable lack of lactic acid buildup in my legs. I’m not sure I can give the Sour Diesel all the credit, but I feel like it contributed to my overall better sense of wellbeing; or at the very least, it provided enough of a blissful state to distract me from the burning in my legs.
What happened next definitely solidified the vaping as a solid pre-run boost. I got the best, possible version of a runner’s high. For those unfamiliar with the term, it’s basically a release of happy-making endorphins into your brain that comes from running, or training strenuously. The physical activity makes you feel invincible, like you could go on forever, and feel totally stoked the entire way. Funnily enough, after doing some research, it turns out there’s more at play than just endorphins: a runner’s high is more than a simple surge in one chemical in the brain; it’s a complex dance of psychoactive compounds released in response to exercise that boost your mood, raise your energy level, and create a sense of calm relaxation. And one of those psychoactive compounds is a chemical class called “endocannabinoids,” which, as you might have guessed from the name, cause similar effects to the active compounds in cannabis (medical and otherwise): stress reduction, pain relief, a sense of well-being, and relaxation. So, if anything, I was giving myself a double-whammy of blissed-out joy.
I finished my run in good time—1 hour—and arrived home feeling zen and ready to work. The rest of the day was uneventful, but I had the good idea to test out the final unit for my sport repertoire: the sublingual Care By Design 18:1 drops (CBD for short—clever, right?). CBD has the greatest amount of anti-inflammatory effects, so I took two drops below my tongue, hoping to counteract any impending muscle soreness. I read for about half an hour that night, felt surprisingly sleepy, and went to bed earlier than usual (10pm).
OH. MY. GOD. I’ve never been so relaxed in my entire life. If you ever want to know what it’s like to wake up from a coma, this is it. I felt like I had been asleep for days. It took me a solid 15 minutes to rouse my leaden limbs from their slumber and convince my eyelids to flutter open, but once I stood up and went about my morning, my energy skyrocketed. I felt so f***ing RESTED. I work in a fairly stressful creative environment, and that coupled with seriously stressful physical workouts can often leave me feeling depleted and unable to get adequate rest. I can 100% attest that these sublingual drops will have a permanent home on my nightstand. As for the muscle soreness? Let’s just say that being well-rested was more than enough, even if it didn’t have those lovely anti-inflammatory effects.
Basically, if you’re looking to get more energy, and more sleep, you might want to consider adding cannabis to your training regimen. Oh, and considering how well-rested you’ll be from those CBD drops, you’ll wake up to less offensive undereye circles.