Mid-Week Controversy: Pot & Ultra Running

Generally in life, I feel like I am constantly late to the party. I hear about trends long after they are really trends. I am almost always behind the times.  It seems I’ve somehow missed out on yet another heated debate in the running world: marijuana use during and after ultra training runs or races.

Let me first start off by saying, I have no strong opinion on the ethics of this whatsoever.  I mean, I really could not care less whether a runner chooses to use marijuana or not. I don’t race competitively so the whole debate about whether it is or isn’t performance enhancing is totally irrelevant to me. In other words, this isn’t an editorial piece. My perspective is offered only in jest as, when I read about running high, I immediately found myself contemplating the dire impact this would likely have on me.

And so, instead of taking a stance, I offer only the brief and lighthearted list of potential risks I imagine when evaluating whether to race or train high:

  1. Based on what I’ve heard about being high, in combination with my excessive clumsiness, I imagine myself tripping and either severely injuring myself or perhaps even falling off a mountain.  This seems at best counterproductive and at worst deadly.
  2. It seems that many runners are using it to combat fatigue, nausea and pain during ultra races…which leaves me sort of wondering, if you’re nauseated, in pain or that tired, isn’t that your body’s way of telling you maybe you should stop? I mean, I have never run an ultra so I have no idea what the body goes through. Maybe it’s bad enough that you genuinely need a good high. However, given my aforementioned tendency for injury, I should probably pay attention to things like pain. As for nausea, I always thought it was sort of hard core when Pete Sampras threw up on the court during the fifth set of the ’96 US Open. I’d like to think that if I puked en route and kept going in a race I’d look equally hard core. It’s probably not true.
  3. My brief research also highlighted that some use marijuana to help them wind down and sleep after 17-20 hours of racing.  Well, let me just say that I have zero intention of ever running for 17-20 hours so this will never be an issue for me. But if I were to find myself in that situation, I imagine a bottle of wine would also do the trick. Actually, I presume I would be in such a state of dehydration that a glass or two of wine might be another to knock me into a peaceful slumber.
  4. Like I said, to each his own. However, I think for me the potential costs would far outweigh any benefits. And, since I haven’t been able to run in over a month, I am sort of looking forward to that horrible feeling of total and complete muscular and cardiovascular defeat that comes from distance running. No pain, no gain, right?


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