In 2013, Carolyn Ford* began to use marijuana to compliment her distance running regimen. Ford, a 28-year-old public relations professional who lives in New York City, had just begun training for her first 100-mile ultramarathon, and found that the time spent on her feet was monotonous and uncomfortable. A typical training session could last as long as four or five hours, two days in a row. Weed, she thought, just might make the sessions more bearable.
“I would put on all of my running clothes,” she says, “and at the door I would take 3 or 4 gravity bong hits and then immediately start the run.” A self-described “anxious competitor,” Ford also says she had trouble processing food while running—a necessity when burning thousands of calories over the course of a single workout. In addition to calming her nerves, she says, cannabis gave her the appetite she needed to adequately fuel.
Athletes opening up about their relationship with weed is nothing new, of course. Everyone from professional hockey players to elite distance runners are increasingly touting the benefits of ingesting marijuana, more often to alleviate pain and improve focus than to gain much of an edge over the competition. As Ford puts it, “Running while stoned is therapeutic. It helps me concentrate on the small movements of my body and adapt accordingly to improve my form.” A 2016 study even found that marijuana was the second most used drug among athletes—not as a performance enhancer, but recreationally. (Alcohol was number one.)