“Marijuana will definitely pull out the creativity. With running, it makes the blues bluer, and the greens greener.”
Firsts with Ultra-marathon Running and Cannabis
After Avery’s gym membership expired, he wanted to stay in shape so he gave running a shot. He saw an advertisement for the Blue Ridge marathon in Virginia, which is advertised as the toughest road marathon in the country. Avery had never run a marathon before signed up for the double marathon option – running the course twice. A friend warned that he could never finish it, yet Avery went on to be the youngest person to ever complete the race on April 20, 2013.
And in Avery’s words, “that pretty much sparked everything.” In the next couple of years, he went on to complete many more 100+ mile runs and broke several records in the process.
Having found true enjoyment and elite performance in this new sport, he worked for a while at a running store in Indiana and in 2014 moved to Colorado to pursue the truly high mountain paths the continent has to offer. One of his roommates there is an avid cannabis smoker and suggested Avery combine the two.
“I saw how productive [my roommate] was, which is against all stereotypes. He smokes three times a day. He’s really smart and productive. One day he asked me ‘have you ever thought about smoking and then going for a run?’ So I took a massive bowl rip and went on a run at one of the local parks I always run.… And just really, really enjoyed it. You feel very in tune with your body and nature – nature for sure. The miles go by pretty fast – or what I think are pretty fast.”
Performance Enhancing Drug?
Avery’s list of running accomplishments is already long despite having only been at this for two years. You can check out his Facebook page for an up to date tally of his records and feats. As he continues to impress his growing fanbase and destroy lazy stoner stereotypes with his energy and drive, one might wonder if cannabis could be considered a performance enhancing drug.
Definitely not, says Avery.
“I don’t think that marijuana is a performance enhancing drug. I still will not use it in any competition. I want to maintain my integrity on that. I do not and will not use it in competition. However during training, I still don’t think it’s a PED. I think it can occupy your mind a little bit more. Marijuana will definitely pull out the creativity. With running, it makes the blues bluer, and the greens greener.”
“I’ve talked with the best ultra-runners, at least at the 100 mile distance, I’m not going to name names, but they are complete and utter advocates. These are definitely high ranking sponsored runners. They can’t come out and say they use marijuana because they could lose their sponsorship. But some of the veterans who have been running for 15 years and some of the faster new school guys do as well. It’s just that most people don’t want to speak their mind and come out like I did.”
Runners like Jenn Shelton come to mind. Jenn was featured in the famous running book Born to Run which has inspired many to hit the trails. She is a former 100 mile trail record holder and admitted to using cannabis as part of her training regimen in a recent Wall Street Journal article “Debate Over Running While High”
Because Avery can run the same distances at the same speeds with or without cannabis, for him it’s more about enhancing his appreciation for the moments that arise in the midst of the running and training.
“You really enjoy running more. It’s not performance enhancing because I’m going to do the same workout tomorrow as I am with or without marijuana. That’s all there is to it.”
Methods of Ingestion and Finding Balance
Avery wasn’t familiar with dosages until he moved to Colorado. Once there he had wide access to edibles. Just before a run, he considers 15mg to be the perfect dose. He says “it makes everything very in tune.”
He doesn’t use edibles on every run as too much THC can cause blur his attention. “I don’t use them on speed workouts. Sometimes I lose a little bit of focus and maybe a little bit of determination. This isn’t always true. The main runs I use cannabis on are the really long runs (30, 40, 45 mile runs) or just maintenance miles and runs that are not going to be detrimental to my next race.”
With his diet and metabolism, Avery usually takes the edible about 45 minutes before he plans on going out. “Once I start running it normally doesn’t kick in for about 15 to 20 minutes later. Typically 10 to 15 mg will last me about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. If I want to continue a sustainable energy or high, I will take 10 mg every 2 to 2 1/2 hours…After you use it a few times, you figure out how it’s going to react and how long it’s going to take to kick in. Then you really start to dial it in, and to get it down to a science.”
Avery acknowledges that dosing depends on the person and it’s up to everyone to start slow and dial in their appropriate cannabis regimen. For instance, a friend who competes in triathlons and was recently featured in a Men’s Journal article titled “Get High, Train Harder”
ingests much more. “He typically takes 20 to 25 mg. That’s too much for me. There is a line where productivity can be cut out. I have done runs up the mountain at 20 to 25 mg, but those are only 18 mile runs. Super-long runs it is important to dial in dosage.”
Since he’s been immersed in Colorado’s legal cannabis market for several months, he’s found several products that suit him the best. “As far as edibles go, I like using Incredibles. They make coffee bars and chocolate bars. I like them because I know exactly how the high and edible is going to react with my system.” He also regular enjoys EdiPure’s 10mg Peach Tarts.
Having been sold on the consciousness expanding properties of marijuana edibles, Avery has also found value in THC infused salves or lotions. He says they are good to calm down the muscles. While these topical applications don’t create a euphoric high, they should still be applied conservatively. “It does not take a whole lot to relax the muscles.”
Advice for the Consumer and Culture
As both cannabis and long distance running enjoy a surge of popularity, Avery has some guidance to those in overlap of these two budding communities.
As for dosing, Avery goes with the standard advice coming out of the Colorado edibles market. Don’t start with anything over 10 mg. “I’ve got some friends who can’t do anymore than 5 mg and go out for a run.”
Unlike alcohol it’s apparent when you’ve ingested too much cannabis. “If you smoke too much, you can get lazy. That can occur for me too. The only time I smoke ‘too much’ is when I purposefully do. Like when it’s nighttime and I’m going to bed.”
“I think for anyone especially in an endurance sport [cannabis] is very, very useful. You just have to understand to know your limit. You have to know what is too much and how to limit yourself and how to not abuse it for sure. Edibles are a good route to go. If you plan on running for two hours it’s going to kick-in in 45 minutes. If you are 45 minutes from the house, you are essentially now going to get high and you’ve got to run back. So you’ll get the full experience. It’s just a good way to start out.”
Runnin’ High and Sponsorships
When Avery first moved to Colorado, he was sponsored by American Cannabis Company. At the time he was hash tagging all his social media pages with #runninhigh. This meme was the starting point of Avery’s brand of durable trail running gear called RunninHigh. “I didn’t necessarily mean it in the sense of I’m running and I’m running stoned. I meant it as in I’m running up the mountain. It’s more of a mountain based trail running company. We are definitely pro-cannabis, but we are not promoting cannabis use with the company as this is something you should do.”
Avery had no difficulty finding additional sponsorships. As the perfect spokesperson for edibles and ultra-marathon running, he quickly found race sponsorship with Incredibles and Mary’s Medicinals. This partnership represents the next step in the evolution of responsible cannabis use. The industry is actively joining up with the new voices of the cannabis community.
There can be significant benefits to coming out of the cannabis closet.