When it comes to football, you’ll have no problem finding a dozen professional players who are willing to talk about their cannabis habit. The same goes for basketball. According to an interview with Bleacher Report, former NBA player Kenyon Martin said that he believed “85% of the league” smoked marijuana during his career.
However, when it comes to endurance athletes, that same popularity isn’t there — yet. I should know; I reached out to a group of almost 50,000 triathletes trying to find anyone who’d be willing to admit they use cannabis or CBD while training, and I received zero responses.
Part of the problem is the fact that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) still currently ban cannabis — though the USADA has moved CBD to the approved list. Triathletes caught using cannabis could face a two-year ban from competition.
Then there’s the fact that endurance athletes tend to be very particular about what they put into their bodies, and those athletes who do consume are afraid to talk about it because of the many negative stigmas attached to use. The last thing an endurance athlete wants is to be considered a “lazy stoner.”
Still, there is a market for cannabis among endurance athletes, and it’s growing quickly. I had the opportunity to talk with three endurance athletes who have all embraced cannabis in one way or another.
Cannabis for Recovery and Training
Antonio DeRose got into endurance sports through the cannabis community when the 420 Games connected him to an incredible group of athletes in the fitness community. As a Ragnar Trail team captain and the first male athlete to complete an entire 420 Games National Tour, DeRose has quickly discovered a love for endurance challenges, and it’s that very challenge that makes consuming cannabis helpful.
“I consume cannabis as part of my training and recovery routine,” says DeRose. “I consume flower or concentrates prior to training for a boost — the THC helps me and gives me a deeper connection between my mind and body, allowing for improved neuromuscular control. And I use topical products, especially CBD, to help isolate sore areas, which allows me to recover faster. I attribute both of these to my improved performance this year.”
DeRose believes that every endurance athlete could see the same benefits from using cannabis.
“For some, cannabis can provide a deeper sense of focus when training, allowing them to reach the flow state. This is a sense of natural ease in both movement of the body and mind,” Derose explains. “As for the powerful anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects of cannabis, those can help endurance athletes deal with trauma the body endures from training, competition and injuries.”
Cannabis and Anxiety
David Louvet is a competitive triathlete who’s raced in seven Ironman competitions, including the World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. During his heyday, he was working 60-70 hours a week as a nuclear medicine technologist and training 14-18 hours a week for competition. It was an intense schedule that eventually wore him down so much that his body gave out during his 2015 World Championship race, forcing him to take a break.
While taking time off, Louvet was introduced to cannabis through his sick dogs. CBD was the recommended treatment for both, and he saw it give his aging dog a new lease on life. At that point, he decided to try it for himself. Now, three years later, Louvet is a proud CBD isolate consumer and is finally getting back into triathlons, training seven days a week.
“CBD helps to reign in my anxiety, allowing me to accomplish more of what I want to do each day,” Louvet says. “It’s also valuable in my recovery efforts decreasing inflammation and helping me sleep better at night. It’s by far one of the best recovery supplements available. From massages to compression socks, I think CBD will be the next tool to help all athletes perform and recover better.”
Cannabis and the Runner’s High
Nathan Giusti is an endurance athlete who has run 50-mile ultramarathons, completed Spartan Races, and coached first-time competitive runners through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program. He loves endurance running because he feels that he can take his time and really enjoy the experience, focusing on every step. As a self-proclaimed former fat kid, Nathan is all about pushing himself to new limits, which is also why he enjoys cannabis.
“The effect it had on me was an accentuation of some of the things I like about endurance running,” Guisti explains. “It slows things down a bit. It ups the runners high. I found that if I smoked before a run, I’d run a little slower, although not significantly. Still, I’d be able to do the same distances or more, but instead of having that runner’s grimace, I’d have a smile on my face.”
Guisti didn’t start smoking until after he got into running when a friend recommended trying to run while high. Suddenly, cannabis was a twist on running that added new challenges physically and mentally, which he enjoyed.
“I often find that cannabis makes it easier or more enjoyable to run when I might not otherwise be in the mood,” says Guisti. “It’s also good for longer, slower run days as it generally keeps me at a more relaxed long-term pace while helping with minor aches and pains that come from a run.”
So, while cannabis is still up-and-coming in endurance sports, there’s no doubt that it will be here to stay. Whether you want an easier, more enjoyable run or you’re looking for a better way to recover after a century bike ride, cannabis could be the key to enduring longer, harder, and better.
Antonio DeRose is the co-founder and COO of Marijuana Fitness Nutrition, a health and wellness website promoting cannabis as part of a healthy and active lifestyle. He is also a NASM Certified Trainer and a competitive trail runner. He was captain of an eight-person Ragnar Trail Team that completed 11.4 miles in less than 23 hours and is the only male athlete to complete an entire 420 Games National Tour with races held in CA, WA, OR, and CO.
Website: mjfitnut.com | Instagram: @greenhousehealthy | Twitter: @greenhousehealthy
David Louvet is an Ironman athlete who’s competed at the World Championship level in Kona, Hawaii. In his lifetime so far, he’s competed seven long-course triathlons (140.6 miles), eight half-course triathlons (70.3 miles), and countless marathons. When he’s not training, he’s a Nuclear Medicine Technologist and the founder and owner of innovetpet.com and vitaleafnaturals.com, two cannabis-based companies.
Instagram: @innovetpetproducts | Twitter: @InnovetPet1 | Instagram: @vitaleafnaturals | Twitter: @VitaLeafNatural
Nathan Giusti is software engineer in Boston who loves endurance sports. He got into endurance running six years ago and has since lost seventy pounds and run everything from 5ks to marathons, and 50-mile ultramarathons. Nathan is also a volunteer coach for the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society’s Team in Training
Instagram: @leukemialymphomasociety | Twitter: @TeamInTraining