The idea to exercise with some company from good ole Mary Jane occurred after a recent injury. Long runs on the unforgiving pavement proved damaging as tingles of pain traversed my shins with each assertive step — shin splints, to the layman, can grow rather debilitating.
Slowly, as time progressed, the pain increased, and soon it ensured that each foot strike to the ground was met with a wince on my face and an exhaling breath of annoyance. In time it grew unbearable as I ended every run in a limping walk.
Treatment began with a bit of honest rest as my legs grew jittery at the thought of simply ‘taking it easy’. Then came the typical consumption of NSAIDs like Ibuprofen to reduce internal swelling and agitation. Bags of ice were intermittently utilized during states of the utmost relaxation, when I knew I didn’t need to move for quite some time.
But I’m impatient at heart. While any trip to the doctor would have lead to a prescription for rest, I was quickly scheming for some form of non-intrusive treatment that would aid in the mitigation of the evolving pain while ensuring I could continue pounding the pavement — perhaps with just a little less suffering along the way.
I began by weighing my options before proceeding, of which there were few. Often times an overuse injury such as shin splints simply requires time for the body to rest, and nothing more. I researched compression socks to aid in blood flow and circulation while reducing discomfort; I looked into Epsom salt baths for weary muscles; I even went so far as to apply Tiger Balm to my legs — a completely worthless but desperate attempt to find relief.
One day, however, I had a bright idea. As a resident of the great state of Oregon, there was one other well-known method by which I could manage pain that others had used before: cannabis.
Admittedly I already had some bud around the house. It’s not tough to find such paraphernalia in a setting where every roommate is under 25 and one of them just so happens to work at a dispensary. So after a brief search through the home I found what I was looking for: a pre-rolled joint of the Blue Dream strain, contained within a cylindrical plastic package of a similar size.
While the concept of ingesting cannabis by smoking it may seem counterproductive for a runner who relies on a healthy set of lungs, ingesting cannabis by smoking remains the fastest way to achieve a high. Consuming an edible would simply mean a bout of impatient waiting that may last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, and I was ready to run now.
So right before I was about to leave the door for another run, after resting my legs for the past few days, I popped open the black cylinder and put the joint to my mouth. Lighting it, I took a deep drag and held it for a few moments, letting everything settle in. Exhaling, I took another fresh breath before downing a swig of water. Then it was time to run.
How’d It Feel, Man?
Blue Dream’s effects came on fast, perhaps accelerated by an increased heartbeat that pumped cannabis-saturated blood throughout my body. Only a few paces down the block and already my head was growing lighter as my body faded away beneath me.
Block after block I pressed on, more aware of my movements than ever before. I focused on the feeling of leg turnover, the posture of my back, the way in which my feet struck the ground — these were all common occurrences amongst those that have experimented with cannabis while running. Common distractions around me such as loud music or children at play seemed dampened in the drug-induced state of mind.
And perhaps most importantly, I felt little pain. While personal experience with weed has often led me to either ignore pain altogether or instead notice it far more intensely, I was lucky on this run to experience the former of the two options; the shin splints said sayonara.
Time continued to pass and still my GPS watch vibrated with each casual mile. A smile grew larger across my face as I glanced to my wrist, surprised to see improved split times accompanied by a general lack of fatigue. Instead I continued to feel fresh, ready to conquer the miles, and even felt inclined to push myself harder (this would be considered a bad choice to some, but it felt right in the moment, so back off).
At some point I simply decided to head home if only because I had no idea when I’d stop if I didn’t make the conscious decision to return. I may have been stoned, but I wasn’t an idiot; I still knew what damage may occur to an overuse injury if I continued to push myself beyond what was necessary. At some point I ended up on the steps to my house, out of breath but having achieved incredible splits given the circumstances. The high had all but worn off, leaving me in a state of bliss, now tingling from the minor sensation of a runner’s high.
Some Thoughts On the Matter, Dude
I haven’t used cannabis as an exercising influencer since that day (though I do still indulge). After all, doing so was more of a personal experiment to determine if A) the drug could mitigate my pain, and B) what effect it would have on my ability to perform.
I was happily impressed on both of those fronts, but still understood that ingesting cannabis before every run was unnecessary, perhaps foolish even. Something about the act of doing so conflicted with the running purist within me.
I soon discovered that I wasn’t alone in my pursuit as a canna-athlete for the day. Others have long used cannabis as a recovery aid post-exercise while some prefer to partake in a quick toke before the run begins, just as I did. As it turns out, running while stoned is a pretty common activity, something many of us do but few openly admit.
But the truth of the matter is that, well, none of this really does matter. Though cannabis may be a Schedule 1 drug, much to the chagrin of millions, utilizing it as an aid while running, rowing, or even powerlifting is a choice made by the athlete, the consumer. Just as so many athletes have quirky and personal methods they swear by to aid in their performance, some too have simply found similar relief or abilities with the help of cannabis.
Stoner jokes are sure to ensue, as is the obvious wisecrack that relates the runner’s high with actually being high, but let’s be real for a moment. If you want to run while stoned, go for it. And if you don’t, then don’t. I found relief when I needed it most, just as others have before me. Cannabis doesn’t affect everyone in a similar manner, so tread wisely if you too have interest in partaking. Understand your limits, look at what others have to say, and take things slowly.
And if all of this seems like a worn out conversation, then just go for a run.