Although stoners are stereotypically “lazy,” more than ever before, athletes are turning to cannabis to aid in their training sessions. Many runners, especially long-distance and cross-country runners, and those training for marathons and ultramarathons, swear by using cannabis to help keep them motivated. So, should you start blazing up the next time you hit the gym or go for an outdoor run? Let’s see what the experts have to say.

What The Science Says About Marijuana And Running

Despite the federal ban on cannabis research, there have been 15 known studies into the sacred herb’s effects on exercise. According to a review by Sports Medicine Australia and published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, these studies concluded that, except in the case of asthma sufferers, there was no notable increase in cardiovascular performance for those who consumed cannabis. Although, for those with asthma, cannabis can help improve bronchoconstriction and so can improve breathing while running. However, while these studies are outdated and far from definitive, the prevailing consensus in the scientific community is that cannabis is not a performance-enhancing substance.

As with most things cannabis related, there remains a dire need for up-to-date research. However, a recent but unrelated study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences turned up some interesting findings. While investigating the phenomenon of runner’s high — that euphoric feeling experienced while exercising, when runners feel reduced anxiety and lessened pain sensation — researchers found that what was once attributed to dopamine and endorphins is more likely caused by the human body’s endocannabinoid system.

The study was conducted using mice, though the findings make sense; the euphoria of a runner’s high not only feels similar to that of a cannabis high, but it also motivates athletes, much like consuming actual cannabis before hitting the gym.

What The Athletes Say About A Restorative Toke

Few long-distance runners are publicly open about their cannabis use — thankfully, ultramarathon runner Avery Collins is not one of them. Regularly clocking up hundreds of miles while high and in the process becoming a vocal advocate for green running, Collins speaks frankly about the subject of weed and workouts.

“I didn’t think about anything else besides the run itself and what was going on at that moment. At the end of the day it makes the greens greener and the blues bluer,” Collins told Leafly, clearly happy with his improved experience of running long distances while high.

Primarily, cannabis appears to help deal with the fatigue, boredom and anxiety that can so often accompany endurance running. Collins is also open when discussing the benefits of a post-workout toke: “With its various medicinal compounds, you can really cut down not only on the fatigue but you can calm the muscles and shoot down a lot of that inflammation.”

What Doctors Advise When It Comes To Cannabis And Athletics

The most important thing to note is that cannabis raises the heart rate while reducing cardiac capacity. For a person in full health, this isn’t an issue. Nevertheless, for the elderly and those with underlying heart conditions, it’s advised to avoid combining cannabis and exercise.

Another potential risk is injury. Doctors are wary of prescribing any type of painkillers to take while exercising, because pain is the body’s way of telling you something is wrong. There’s a real danger that while high, you will not feel the pain of a minor injury, and will carry on running, which could lead to a more severe physical trauma.

Ultimately, it will come down to how cannabis affects you personally. If you suspect that it will be beneficial for you, then start low and go slow while you find your optimal dose, or microdose, for exercise. Many experienced green runners will tell you that it’s important to get the dosage right, because too little and you won’t feel the benefit, and too much means you won’t be running anywhere but to the couch.