Marijuana isn’t the kind of performance enhancing drug you’d expect any athletes to endorse. But a small group of high-endurance competitors say cannabis helps them reduce anxiety, improve focus, manage pain, and facilitate healing and recovery.
According to this recent article in Men’s Fitness magazine, athletes are beginning to experiment with cannabis as part of their training.
In the article, former Division I soccer player Cliff D. (his last name was not given) trains about 23 hours a week and, at 39, still regularly completes Olympic-distance triathlons. These triathlons are typically comprised of a one-mile swim, 25-mile bike, and a six-mile run. The use of marijuana, he asserts, has helped him both train for – and win – this year’s South Beach Triathlon.
So why use a drug synonymous with couch-lock and Cheetos? Cliff D. perceives that cannabis aids with mental focus, as well as a pain reliever that helps relieve post-workout aches.
The athlete also says that THC during a workout allows him to stay focused on things like his heart rate while staying motivated throughout a four-hour bike ride.
“My mind is always all over the place, I can get caught up in what’s going on around me,” he says. “Weed helps me keep my mind focused, if you can imagine that.”
Cliff isn’t alone. Marketers have started promoting various strains of engineered pot as an essential part of an “active lifestyle.” Dixie Elixirs & Edibles debuted ads this year featuring kayakers, skiers, and yogis with the tagline: “What kind of Dixie are you?”
In the Bay Area, a company called CannAthlete has introduced top-level athletes such as Jake Shields (Former UFC title challenger and Strikeforce Champion) and Denny Prokopos (Eddie Bravo Invitational Champion) who advocate the use of cannabis while training.
The company website states,’Through our experience working with high-level athletes, we understand how to utilize this plant to help with focus, performance, and recovery through our Cannabis Performance Assessment and Cannabis Performance Facilitation.’
Seibo Shen, Co-Founder of CannAthlete and Founder of VapeXhale held the first training session to introduce newcomers to this way of training by incorporating cannabis. He stated that many people don’t equate cannabis use and good health, and his hope was that the day’s activities could help correct that misbelief. He stated, “We’re really trying the perception of Cannabis users and what cannabis users are like.”
Edibles and vaporized oils tend to be a favorite of athletes, rather than smoking marijuana, Shen said at a recent panel at New West Summit.
In San Francisco, ski promoter Jim McAlpine recently launched his 420 Games, which are composed of running, cycling, and Frisbee—to promote healthy marijuana use while exercising. His goal is to show that cannabis and good health aren’t mutually exclusive.
“Some people drink a few glasses of wine a night, but if you smoke weed, you’re a lazy stoner,” McAlpine says. “There’s no better way than an athletic endeavor to show that we’re not all couch potatoes.”