A blog by runners. For runners.

Running high, literally. Marijuana and running.

Running high, literally. Marijuana and running.<Disclaimer> We’re not advocating marijuana use – especially if you live in a state or country where it’s illegal. </Disclaimer>

Every runner knows there’s nothing quite like a runner’s high. But some runners are taking it to a whole new level. They’re running high – literally.

With the legalization of medical marijuana in 23 states and Washington DC, and the legalization of pot for recreational use in four states and Washington, DC, many runners are using weed.

Some athletes say marijuana use is helping their performance. There are even Facebook groups dedicated to using marijuana and staying fit, such as Run on Grass.  Professional athletes, snowboarder Ross Rebagliati and mixed martial artist Nick Diaz, even tout marijuana as a valuable training tool.

However, no one really knows if marijuana can enhance your running ability or experience. In fact, no one really knows if marijuana is truly safe.

While there’s lots of anecdotal support for the benefits of pot, most of it hasn’t been backed up by scientific research. Until more studies are done, it’s hard to say if it’s safe for runners to use pot or not. Plus, there’s still research to be done on the optimal strength and timing of using marijuana.

Here are some of the possible benefits and drawbacks to running and using marijuana.

The pros

  • Marijuana may helps you relax before a race and reduce your anxiety levels. It may also help you sleep better the night before.
  • Weed may lead to more risk-taking behavior. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you’re the type of runner who holds back the pace early on in a race, you may be selling yourself short and not running to your full potential. Marijuana may give you the confidence to push the pace earlier on in your event.
  • Pot reduces pain. After all, this is one of the main reasons it was approved for medicinal use. Plus, experts say marijuana may create a very similar experience in your body to the original “runner’s high” that blocks pain. This means that marijuana may help you get through a tough workout.
  • Using marijuana may aid in your concentration, enhance your vision, and improve your mood. It may also help you forget related traumatic experiences. This can be beneficial during a race to get in the right mindset. For instance, it’s not helpful to think of last year’s marathon disaster during this year’s race.

The cons

  • Marijuana can have negative impacts on your coordination. Experts warn against using pot immediately before running.
  • Marijuana may not improve your performance. Instead, it may have the opposite effect. Using marijuana can use to short-term memory problems, decrease your alertness and reaction time, and cause more muscle fatigue. None of which any runner would want to experience. Marijuana use can also increase your heart rate, and has even been linked to heart disease.
  • Pot may not have a calming effect on everyone. In some people it increases anxiety and causes paranoia.
  • Smoking marijuana isn’t good for your lungs. The smoke may be lined with cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) and it may increase your risk of chronic bronchitis.
  • Oh – and it’s illegal. Even if you live in one of the places where using marijuana for recreational use is legal (Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, DC), pot use is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency for anyone who competes in professional sports.

Written by Jen Matz.