I say that on stage, a concrete slab in a Brooklyn Barbecue joint, to an audience that reacts with tepid laughter as they struggle to hear words. The soundwaves of my voice echo out desperately trying to form jokes, they instantly clash with a brazen overhead fan that produces so much noise with so little air. Smoke starts to billow into an already scorching showroom as they begin smoking a whole hog the room over.
I’m stoned and it’s about the only thing that’s going to get me through this set. That’s okay, cannabis has gotten me through a lot worse. It got me off my ass, into shape and across the finish line of a 40 mile ultramarathon, the judgemental gaze of a Brooklyn hipster isn’t going to break me.
Related: How stoned running helped me lose 180 pounds
Weed has a way of making everything a little better, it’s like life’s salt. Sprinkle a little in and suddenly this run doesn’t suck, this person isn’t boring and hell, this documentary might even be interesting. But start overdoing the salt and problems arise. I limp off stage, the lack of laughs didn’t injure me, I have a ligament that’s completely torn in my ankle. My left foot is sporting a bright orange running shoe, my right foot a clunky air-cast-boot contraption. My body is partially trapped in a tiny cast prison of my own doing, I overdid the salt.
Running stoned saved me, don’t let the boot encompassing my leg persuade you otherwise. I know I didn’t directly mention that the boot strapped to my foot is there because of a stoned running injury but let’s be real, it is. This beautifully weird endeavour of putting smoke in my lungs and running shoes on my feet has changed my life, and my ligaments. I want to take an honest look at stoned running while giving you the details on how it’s done; the good, the bad and the painful.
The Stoned Running Run-Down:
- Should you get high before, during, or after the run?
- How should you get high; joints, edibles, etc?
- What strain works best?
- What to bring on the run?
- What will stoned running feel like?
- Avoiding injury
When to smoke?
Let’s start with the basics. Some people don’t understand how running while high is even possible. For them the only movement weed seems to bring is a slow shuffle to the couch, maybe a second lap around for some munchies. I still do both those things, on occasion, but I’ve learned the importance of smoking on the move.
If you’re running around your neighborhood, smoke after your gear is on and shoes are laced. Find a space outside where you can smoke and stretch, get warmed up while smoking, let your body know it’s going to feel relaxed but it’s also going to move. Put yourself in the best position to not sit back down.
What to smoke and how to smoke it?
Questions often arise about the type of smoking method preferred and what strain, if any, is most beneficial. Seeing as I’ve been a stoned Forrest Gump-type guinea pig for the better part of three years, I say it’s whatever gets you out the door. If you think one sativa strain makes you more energetic, go with that. If you like edibles over joints, go with that. If you choose an edible make sure it’s one you’ve taken before. You want to have some idea of when the high is going to hit, that way you can time it with where you’d like it in your run. Sometimes it’s nice to start stoned, sometimes it’s nice to have it kick in after a few miles.
My preferred method is simple, true stoners will judge me, I’m a sucker for a Raw cone. I fill one up, smoke it and take off. If smoking a joint doesn’t sit well with your lungs or causes a cough, pick another method. You being comfortable is the most important thing, running is already hard enough and we’re always looking for excuses to stop. Don’t give yourself one.
As far as strains go I don’t get picky with indica or sativa. I’ve had some of my best runs on indicas and don’t seem to notice strain-related fatigue. Folks often complain about aches and pains when they’re starting to run, those aches and pains have a funny way of disappearing with the indica body high. Though it may be known as the downer-type strain I’ve found it most helpful on mornings when soreness is kicking my ass. It’s important to remember not everybody has the luxury of buying weed and having a menu, some people just get what their dealer has. Don’t feel dissuaded if this is you, I truly believe all cannabis can be utilized for running.
What to bring with you?
The beautiful thing about running is how few things you need to do it. As a stoner, the fewer things you need to remember the better.
Shoes are a must, investing in a proper pair of running shoes goes a long way in preventing injury and supporting comfort.
Besides good shoes, the most important thing for a stoned run is hydration. Weed has a way of making the mouth dry, a dry mouth doesn’t help move you forward. If anything, a dry mouth can aid fatigue. Carry water on your stoned runs, some companies have hand-held bottles that strap to your wrist, this is a stoned runner’s best friend.
What will stoned running feel like?
As far as the actual experience of running stoned, it’s very personal. To me it represents freedom, specifically stoned trail running. Being alone in nature and moving through it with just your body, over the hills, past wildlife and foliage, you feel a deep connection to yourself and the earth. I leave the headphones at home and get lost in the sounds of the woods. The stress of life seems so far behind, it’s just you, the ground and the next step.
It’s helped me realize no matter how big a task lies ahead, all we can do is take one step towards completing it. I went into stoned running a very anxious person, three years later and my anxiety has quelled in a way I never thought possible. Situations that would bring me anxiety now get brought up first while on a run, when they approach in life I’m able to handle them with a clear head because I’ve already worked through it. Running is time alone, it’s a form of meditation.
Stoned running gets tricky for me here, it seems that its best quality is the ability to make one feel like they can run further and longer than when they’re sober. My longest runs come on stoned days, miles fly by and the body seems to fight off inflammation. There’s a certain feeling of invincibility that accompanies running stoned. This invincibility can lead to injury, that’s where negativity starts to form. If every run is a stoned run, you’re tricking your mind from fully feeling the possible damage you may be doing. If you wake up feeling an injury, smoke to make it feel better, then go run, that injury doesn’t just disappear. I fell victim to that cycle.
September 2020 saw me take a nice spill on a trail run, it led to tendonitis on the inside of my right foot that kept me out for almost two months. Upon returning I relied heavily on stoned runs to mask any pain, not realizing that pain was altering my running mechanics. Fast forward to May 2021, I ran my first ultramarathon two months prior and am now slowly trying to kick up the mileage to prepare for another race. My foot starts to hurt again and I take five days off to rest. On the first run back I smoke two joints, one extra, to mask any residual pain. A quarter mile into the run, not realizing I’m excessively pronating my right foot, my ankle snaps in half. I hear one of the ligaments pop. No amount of joints smoked could have masked that sound.
Blaming weed completely would be wrong, my actions and behaviors played a large factor. One could argue I pushed too hard too quickly, and I did, but that’s what cannabis had me feeling like I could do. I thought I had the magic elixir to avoiding injury in an injury-plagued sport. Now I have at least 3 months of down time to ponder my relationship with stoned running. Maybe less is more, the greatest benefit stoned running has given me is a strengthened mind, numbing the body should be saved for the post-run couchlock.
What I do know is that stoned running gave me the feeling of freedom, it helped me hold a mirror to my mind and body, fixing one while breaking the other. If life is an unfolding process, stoned running was the hand undoing the folds.