Everyone has heard of a “runner’s high.” But few interpret that phrase as meaning “high on marijuana.” While it might sound fun to get stoned and run around, it’s not the first drug that comes to mind when one ponders a way to enhance their running performance.
Surprisingly, however, it may have the potential to do exactly that. While not many tests have been done to prove the effects of marijuana on physical performance, the ones that have been have pointed to weed having negative effects. A study in the 1980s revealed that people who smoked marijuana before exercising had decreased stamina and were only able to work out in short bursts, an outcome scientists came to refer to as the “ergolytic” effects of the drug. Since that one and only study, it has been pretty much assumed that marijuana will not benefit you in any way when it comes to your physical endeavors… until now.
Though it is undeniable that weed slows you down physically (specifically by increasing your heart rate and decreasing “cardiac output”), it is now thought that there may be a psychological component to being high that can positively affect your performance. Marijuana is obviously known for its ability to relieve pain and to help people achieve an optimal level of psychological and physical comfort, and it is because of that that it can boost physical performance. By clouding your mind with the pain relieving effects of marijuana before running, you are potentially preventing feelings of suffering and promoting ones of well-being. This in turn has the potential of allowing you to more easily fight through the natural aversion you feel to physically pushing yourself. It can also distract your mind so that it’s easier to get into the almost mechanical groove that is necessary for prolonged physical output.
What it really comes down to is your endocannabinoid system: the receptors in the brain that process the physiological effects of marijuana and give you the positive “high” feeling that marijuana is known for. Apparently the same receptors are stimulated naturally when exercising sober and are responsible for the age old runner’s high we so often refer to (sorry, endorphins, it seems you don’t get all the credit). So by being in the high state before you even start running, you may be able to go longer than usual.
It should be noted that if you are planning to get stoned and hit the running trails, you should make sure you have a healthy heart first. If you run high, you may ignore warning signs you otherwise wouldn’t, and if you have a preexisting heart condition, the added exertion of running stoned could be seriously dangerous.
What do you think? Do you think running high has legitimate benefits, or does it sound like a half-baked idea?