man running on a bridge

Pros and cons of smoking weed before running

Most of us know that smoking is bad for our long-term lung capacity. Yet there are enough people who swear by running and smoking weed specifically that it’s worth investigating a little deeper:

Are there any benefits of exercising while “high”?

Runners who smoke – really?

Cannabis has gone almost from enemy of the state to everyone’s best friend and superb medical treatment for all kinds of conditions in the past few decades.

Gone are the days when everyone assumed that “smoking weed” meant you were intending to sink into your couch for a movie marathon or spend the next few hours giggling with friends.

Today, people from all walks of life use marijuana to address all kinds of conditions. There are many others who use it to make living their daily life just that little bit better or easier too.

Runners and other athletes are no exception to this.

Running and “smoking” weed

It’s important to note that we’re probably not talking about smoking a “joint” before you start your next 5k here. Inhaling actual smoke will almost certainly make running more difficult rather than allow you to benefit from any of the positive physical or mental effects of marijuana.

However, actual smoking is by no means the only way you build cannabis into your exercise regime. You might like to try:

1) Vaporizers

A “vape” will heat up the cannabis concentrate or plant material inside and turn it into vapor rather than smoke. Vapor is much, much easier on the inhale. It also won’t make you feel like your lungs are a size smaller as smoking can. Vaping while running – or just before – has become so popular that “vape runners” and “weed runners” have become phrases in common usage in some circles.

It is worth pointing out that straight-up THC vape carts might not be the best choice for loading into your vape pre-run. Many high-THC strains of cannabis can cause grogginess or sleepiness. Instead, a full-spectrum product made from a more balanced strain rather than one filled with pure THC oil distillate might be a better choice

2) Edibles and drinkables

Many athletes swear by the CDB drinkables they use after exercise. Others like to use edible gummies before or during a run – especially if they’re struggling. Edibles are popular mainly because they have the major advantage that they don’t require you to inhale anything into your lungs at all.

Just remember that it’s worth taking the time to experiment with dosage levels, THC capsules are a great way to test your tolerance. For pre and mid-run intake, you probably want to aim for a low dosage level. You also want to check how that makes you feel before you commit to a run. You don’t want the effect on you personally to be that you instantly want to sit down and relax.

3) Topicals

If you are suffering from muscle pains and strains, good cannabis-infused topicals like creams and balms are great for rubbing into affected areas before or after exercise.

running pace illustration

Getting high and working out – why would you do it?

1) Some cannabis strains give you energy

As anyone with any familiarity with the huge range of cannabis strains on the market today will tell you, there is a strain out there for almost every occasion.

Getting out your vape or bag of edibles can help give you that little bit of added energy before and during a run. And for most runners, anything that gives your energy levels a little boost before you start running can only be a good thing.

That is not to say that all strains of cannabis are a good choice for this. You want to aim for something that isn’t too high in THC – and is balanced by solid or even matching CBD levels. A hybrid that contains a good balance of both is probably a good place to start.

Two strains that are bursting with energy are Ghost Train Haze and Harlequin, though they can be difficult to come by. But anything that’s well-balanced might do the job. If in doubt, talk it over with your budtender. They will almost certainly know the sort of thing you should be aiming for.

2) A little cannabis provides pain relief

For many sorts of workout – especially weights work and running – the pain relief quality of cannabis can allow athletes to deliver even more effort. This can help you manage a harder workout or a longer run on a day you might otherwise not have been able to.

Some say the idea is to use cannabis on days when you’re deliberately training below your peak – an idea suggested in Men’s Health magazine recently. But the combination of physical relief from pain and the altered mind-state that cannabis can provide also seems to be a big benefit for many people when their workout starts to get truly challenging too.

Again, the method and goal here is not to get really “high”. Merely to take advantage of the beneficial effects of marijuana in terms of pain relief and mental adjustment to boost exercise performance.

3) Cannabis can provide mental focus

Smoking weed and running is not just all about the physical effects. Many strains of marijuana are equally, if not better, known for the mental and cerebral effects they can produce.

Many strains can provide a level of mental clarity and focus that is very welcome indeed for many athletes who want to concentrate even more on what they’re doing. Say goodbye to distractions and hello to newfound performance possibilities.

Again, the key here is to find a strain of cannabis that delivers the mental effects that you are looking for. This may differ from person to person and certainly will differ from strain to strain. Your local budtender should again be the best source of recommendations and suggestions here.

4) A little cannabis can get you “in the zone”

Many people will tell you they get a natural “jogging high”. It’s possibly a side-effect of all of the natural chemicals your body is releasing in order to keep you going while running.

The right strain of cannabis at the right dose level can also get you into that comfortable – sometimes even mildly elated – zone where running comes with a kind of zen-like focus. This is especially good for longer runs when pain and resistance levels can start to build.

5) A little cannabis pick-me-up can go a long way

running illustrationIf you’ve experimented with edibles and exercising before, why not take a little emergency stash with you on your next run? Just one or two edibles carried in a belt pouch or a pocket can be just what you need if you feel yourself flagging during a long run.

We might be stretching the limits of what we’re calling “smoking weed and running” at this point. But if what we’re really talking about is the benefits cannabis can have on your exercise regime, this is not one to miss out on.

6) Cannabis can help with post-exercise soreness too

CBD – cannabidiol, one of the two best-known cannabinoids found in cannabis – has particular benefits when it comes to post-exercise relief.

Even many professional and high-performance athletes have started using CBD topically or orally to help with their post-exercise recovery. That’s because the effects of this cannabinoid in terms of inflammation reduction and reducing muscle strain after a workout is becoming increasingly well explored.

It has even been suggested that CBD could help athletes manage some injuries instead of resulting to store-bought pain medication. The added bonuses of cannabidiol – that it cannot get you high as it is non-psychoactive and it is also completely non-addictive – are of especial importance here.

If you do the sensible thing and build a post-run cool-down period of stretching out your muscles and perhaps using a foam roller on any tight spots, adding a little topical CBD application can be just the thing to further aid your recovery.

7) Cannabis can help with “runner’s stomach”

If you go on truly long runs, you will be more than familiar with the way your body can respond in terms of stomach upsets and discomfort.

The good news is that some strains of marijuana can be of assistance here too. The fast relief that a vape can provide is once again on the cards after you’ve finished exercising, so if this is something you struggle with regularly, it’s worth bringing your vape with you or having it ready for when you get home.

Of course, you do need to choose the right strain. Time to consult your local budtender again – or contact customer service if you’re buying your marijuana online.

8) Cannabis can help you sleep while aching

Long runs and intensive workouts can make getting to sleep the same evening – your body aching, unable to find a comfortable position – a real chore.

We’re long past running after smoking weed and well into smoking weed after running territory now. But failing to mention the positive effects of the right strain on getting a good night’s sleep would be criminal when discussing the benefits of cannabis to your exercise.

Unlike the energetic strains and balanced hybrids we were interested in before and during our run or workout, an indica or THC-heavy strain is probably a good idea when it comes to later in the day. Choosing the right strain – Northern Light is an ever-popular choice for very good reasons – can be just what you need to get off to sleep smoothly, ready for a recovery day or another day of effort tomorrow.

The only potential limitation of this is that some research shows that, while THC can help you get to sleep more quickly, it is possible it has negative effects on the quality of sleep you get if used in the long term. This means you may only want to use marijuana in this capacity on an irregular basis. Getting good quality sleep is very important if you want to maximise the muscle repairs and growth your body achieves during sleep cycles.

woman running on a road

Is there a downside to being a weed runner?

If this article has failed to underscore the point already, smoking cannabis in the form of a joint before running is probably not a good idea. You are more than likely to notice the heavy effects on your lungs and it will almost certainly negatively affect your performance overall.

This means that using one of the methods listed above – a vaporizer, edibles, drinkables or topical products – is a much better approach if you want to experiment with running while high (just a little) or getting any of the other kinds of physical or mental relief or focus that cannabis can provide before, during or after your run or exercise session.

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