High Notes from a Run on THC

Running and flying high: Notes from a marijuana-fueled run

So what’s it like running high? With the growing wave of legalization of marijuana throughout the U.S. and pot being at least somewhat prevalent among at trail running races, that’s what everybody wants to know. Well, read on and you’ll find out.

Coincidentally, I was recently pitched on doing a story about “Edibles for Exercise” by a PR person who said the product she was representing was “a new chocolate edible designed for exercise.” ‘GO’ from a brand called 1906 is a high-end, low-dose chocolate with “rapid delivery,” so you feel it within 15 or 20 minutes.”

Having grown up in Boulder, Colorado, with a hippy father who got high to ski and to play the conga drums, I was not raised in opposition to marijuana and dabbled in it during high school and college. But, when my dad died of lung cancer my senior year in college, it was easy to quit and hold hard and fast to abstaining from smoking it. Then, when it was legalized here in Colorado—for medicinal use in 2010 and for recreational use in 2015—and I found myself representing some of the state’s biggest growers and dispensaries as a tax lawyer, I figured it might be “high” time to see what had changed over the previous two decades.

READ MORE: Marjiuana and Running: Is Pot the Next EPO?

That was three years ago and, after being turned into a frozen zombie by what must have been the wrong strain of marijuana with my first try, it was easy to continue steering clear of cannabis use. I had been told by a Millennial, “Dude, you must have tried indica because they call that strain ‘in the couch.’ You should try sativa. It is a very different experience.” The GO edibles from 1906 use sativa and are a chocolate combination with coffee, theanine, caffeine, theobromine, yohimbe, 5mg of THC and 5mg CBD per piece. The brand also offers chocolate-covered coffee beans with 1mg THC per bean.

Hippy runner Forest Gump famously said, “Life is like a box of chocolates.” But this box of chocolates is more like the life of the party. Photo: Adam Chase

So, on a slightly rainy but warm Saturday morning, I ate a single chocolate—a mild “microdose”—and headed out on my solo test adventure armed with two GO Beans as well.

Let’s just say it was a wild ride, a run that varied between acute awareness and relaxing calm to moderate hallucinogenic moments, wacky paranoia and drop-dead humor. Or at least I thought so.

Here are the notes I took along the way:

15 minutes: I want to pick up the pace to jack my metabolism and feel this kick into gear!

20 minutes: First sensations. The relaxed muscles are probably the CBD taking effect with physical relaxation. My hearing is more acute. The birds in the meadow are loud and clear. As are the footsteps of the hikers I run past. I can hear them when they aren’t even close.

25 minutes: Wow! That rabbit on the trail is really big. It is just hopping along ahead of me, not getting off the trail. Doesn’t it want to get away? This is like ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ Trippy!

I can feel the high coming on subtly, and it is slowly scaling up.

The trail is speaking to me. It is clearly showing me the best fall line. It is like someone took a highlighter to it to tell me what part of the path is the best to run.

35 minutes: My muscles are feeling good but also sending clear signals from yesterday’s run. I am able to tell exactly where I am tight and even where I’m a little sore.

When I pass people I wonder if they too are buzzing or whether they can tell I am. Good thing I’m wearing sunglasses. I’m not paranoid. Just wondering. Wait. Why am I wearing sunglasses when it isn’t sunny? And are they fogging up or is that just my head?

60 minutes: I’m feeling very focused and as though the ability to hone in on just trail running and the many thoughts in my head, with no real distractions, is giving me an advantage, allowing me to look a couple steps further down the path, even when the terrain is technical. No falling and I feel in comfortable control.

I’m very aware of my breathing and the relaxed rhythm.

Time to take a coffee bean.

90 minutes: Still focused and keeping up a steady, strong pace. I’m now thinking that I like this and understand why USADA has declared THC a banned PED when used in competition. I am amused by the fact that the shoes I’m testing are the Saucony KOA TR. Did they really name a trail shoe after a chain of campgrounds? I find this more laughable than it is.

More rabbits on the trail and now some big black cows, and they are almost as entertained by me as I am by them. There are also guns at a nearby shooting range. The shots don’t phase me or the cows at all. Maybe the cows are high too?

Two hours into the run: Still feeling strong, steady and focused. I’m now running sections I normally need to walk. My foot is hurting a little in the test shoes and from yesterday’s run that was mostly on roads, but it is rather easy to ignore the pain. I can hear kids screaming in the playground as I pass and the sound is louder than normal, but I think to myself, “isn’t it nice that these children are so happy” instead of being annoyed by the shrill piercing of silence.

I finished the run just shy of 2 hours, 30 minutes. At that point I felt like the buzz had mostly worn off, but my body was still rather light and limber. My energy level was going strong and I could have kept going rather easily. I didn’t get the sense that I needed or wanted to “come down” off the high. I didn’t feel I would soon be addicted and didn’t crave eating more edibles any time soon. It was like a good movie you’d recommend to a friend but don’t need to watch again for a while.

A couple hours after the run my brain was a bit worn out, fried or maybe even frayed. But my body was still going steady and didn’t feel beat up from the run or the hour-long spin I did immediately after the run.

My running times, as measured by Strava and my Suunto Ambit 3 Peak, were very consistent with, if not a bit ahead of, my previous times on those segments even though I opted to run for a full hour longer than most of the times when I’ve run those segments in the past.

 

Adam W. Chase
Adam W. Chase has run more than 150 marathons and ultra-distance races. At this point in life, he writes faster than he runs and also serves as President of the American Trail Running Association and works as a lawyer in Boulder, Colo.