Should You Inhale - Page 2
Why Do It on the Trail?
Imagine a drug that could settle your stomach, remove your pain and make you feel euphoric at the same time. Well, one exists—at least according to the trail-running proponents of marijuana interviewed for this article. Use by trail runners seems to be based upon two main reasons: performance enhancing and mental/spiritual well being.
In its most practical, performance-enhancing applications, marijuana seems uniquely qualified as an ergogenic for long-distance running (slower efforts) for three reasons: it helps mitigate pain, decrease nausea and increase appetite. The longer the race or run, the more likely you are to encounter pain or inability to hold down food; how well you address these issues might mean the difference between a DNF and a great performance.
“Early in my ultrarunning, I struggled with eating and often experienced nausea,” says a runner I interviewed. “Pot helped [alleviate] that.”
When I asked a marijuana user if he had any fear of the smoke inhibiting performance, he said, “I don’t smoke every race, but I had my best trail running race- performance on a day when I smoked. So, no.” On that hard effort, he set a trail-marathon course record, saying the drug helped him mentally focus.
Other physiological effects of marijuana might also improve athletic performance: similar to caffeine it appears to increase heart rate right after ingestion, although a racing heart rate could also be seen as a negative. And, similar to an asthma inhaler, marijuana acts like a bronchodilator, opening the air passages and improving oxygen transport.
On the mental side, THC’s effect on the brain’s neuron communication causes an altered perception of reality and lends itself to the feeling of “oneness with nature” that is commonly reported by avid users.
While pot can turn some folks into zombies, many runners report the opposite. As one trail runner told me, “I use it to get me out the door. It is a total motivator.”
A member of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List Committee, Dr. Marilyn Huestis says several elite athletes have lauded marijuana for “improving sleep, and reducing fear and anxiety surrounding competition.” Although not discussed in any research, she also mentioned that those athletes thought it helped them “recover faster from injuries.”