I have a friend training for her first marathon. It seems she is allergic to running. She has every ache and pain imaginable. If that isn’t enough, diarrhea has become her friend (enemy?), as well as nausea. This friend is determined as hell to keep training, but she is not stupid. She has found a remedy to help with her symptoms.
While she doesn’t take pot on her runs, she takes a small hit or two from a vaporizer when she gets home. This helps tremendously with her symptoms, especially her nausea. Studies have shown that marijuana can indeed improve running performance and decrease pain/nausea.
As you potheads know, marijuana is now legal in Colorado. And, not just the medical kind. If you have cash and an I.D. proving you are over 21, you can walk into any pot shop and buy up to one ounce of marijuana. While I prefer not to get into the debate about whether this is a good idea for our state, our people, our kids – I would like to get into another pot debate.
Let me start by saying – I am not a pot smoker. I have tried it about three times in my life (well, not including that time in Amsterdam. That might have been hash, but I had been at the Heineken brewery all day and can’t remember clearly. That’s another story). It’s just not for me. I prefer a good glass (or 5) of chardonnay.
I read an article in the Wall Street Journal the other day about ultra runners who smoke marijuana while racing. The question: Is this ethical? While research has unequivocally shown that marijuana use can block pain and reduce nausea, should it be allowed? Is it fair? How is smoking pot different than taking a crap load of NSAIDs?
- Has the potential to improve performance due to pain blockage and nausea reduction.
- Some report that the long miles tick off faster if one is running high.
- If you suffer from not being able to sleep after a very long race, marijuana can help.
- “Hey bro, this run is, like, awesome!” can be repeated endlessly.
- Some would argue that THC is completely natural, unlike NSAIDs or other enhancing drugs.
- If you are doing your event in a state where marijuana is legal, it’s an even playing field. Anyone can get and use it.
- Helps one stay calm in the midst of competition. Decreases anxiety.
- Promotes feelings of invincibility (this can be a con as well – Hey dude let’s jump off this cliff).
- Marijuana can have an anti-inflammatory effect.
- Should runners be blocking pain? Isn’t this a precursor to injury?
- Some view using marijuana as pure drug abuse.
- Even if it is banned, ultra races don’t typically test for drugs because it is cost prohibitive.
- If you can’t smoke pot and drive, why should you be able to smoke and run? Isn’t that dangerous to yourself and others?
- Over time marijuana use can cause changes in the brain that lead to addiction.
- Aid stations on ultra runs would have to triple the amount of junk food they serve (hello Ding Dongs!).
- According to the World Anti Doping Agency, some say marijuana should be on the prohibited substance list (1. potential to enhance performance 2. risk for athlete’s health 3. violation of the sprit of the spirit).
- Is smoking anything good for athletes and breathing?
- As far as consuming marijuana during the race – it is technically illegal (at least in CO) to do this in public.
- Potential decrease in motor skills.
The debate rages on. Part of me couldn’t care less what ultra runners do (and I will likely be one someday myself). If it helps to take a couple of hits to cover 150 miles in one day, go for it. And, if you know that you are masking pain and you don’t care because this is what you love to do, then what’s it hurting? Your body, your choices.
But, the other side of me sees it as a slippery slope – if we start permitting this, what is next? Will weed now become legit to use in marathons and half marathons? How much do we want to encourage drug use and what could potentially turn into an unhealthy habit?
I’d love to know your thoughts.
Should pot be permitted in races?
Have you ever smoked and ran? (no one is reading this blog so don’t be afraid to smoke and tell)