Cannabis for Performance Enhancement?

I’ve been increasingly thinking about cannabis and its role in our lives. How do we use it—and why? Are intent and motive important when one is consuming marijuana? Are those who simply want to escape reality losing out on the full spectrum of benefits offered by this wellness herb?

The topic of intent, as in “using cannabis with intent,” is deep and detailed. It involves mindfulness and is regularly practiced by many cannabis users who also indulge in meditation, yoga, and endurance exercise.


A big, beautiful outdoor cannabis plant in Toronto

Those who view cannabis as a simple opportunity to escape from reality, relegating it to a mere euphoriant, may be missing out. Why? Put simply, cannabis—whether the user is aware or not—is increasingly proving itself to be a tool for use with the intent of homeostasis, or balance, within humans—including our minds, bodies, and spirits.

Homeostasis = Performance Enhancement

If you’re still with me, isn’t it reasonable to assume that a balanced or homeostatic mind/body/spirit is one that is more likely to be optimized and that may result in the enhancement of performance for a wide variety of tasks?

Could not everything from software development and public speaking to parenting and competitive cycling benefit from reasonable daily dosing of this cannabinoid-rich vegetable? When we strip away the decades of stigma, propaganda, and tremendous ignorance, we learn that cannabis has a special relationship to the human body (as proven by numerous research studies and thousands of patient testimonials).

Unfortunately, a significant chunk of North Americans perceives this natural “tonic” to completely lack medical efficacy. Of course, the herb’s Schedule I status under the U.S. government’s Controlled Substances Act, where it cosies up beside truly harsh drugs like heroin and bath salts, doesn’t help.

More progressive thinkers who believe cannabis does nothing more than get one “high” or give cancer and AIDS patients an appetite are also not seeing the big picture.

Enduring Stigma & Endurance Exercise

During my childhood, I basked in the shadow of competitive road cycling. Instead of fantasizing about being an NFL quarterback or G.I. Joe, I imagined racing with the peloton in California or France.

I remember when I was about eight or 10 years old, watching as my father walked through a crowd of hundreds of very capable cyclists prior to a beautiful spring tour in the Midwest during the late 1970s.


Part of the road bike I ride—now after consuming cannabis with intent

With his special shoes clacking against the pavement, he walked through the crowd, perusing his cycling peers with caution and muted excitement in anticipation of the following two days of hard riding. The eager athletes awaiting the launch of their tour would cover 200+ miles in the following 36 hours of spinning—if they were lucky. (Some ultra-competitive top riders would suck down the entire distance in a single impressive day.)

Of course, back then, more than 30 years ago, the bike frames were heavy steel and names like Schwinn Paramount dominated the field (my dad’s was orange). Disc brakes on road bikes were unimagined, pedals featuring primitive toe cages were the standard, and bike computers like my Garmin GPS—replete with touchscreen, altimeter, and thermometer—were virtually unimaginable (the stuff of Star Trek).

Also Unimaginable

Of course, consuming cannabis for performance enhancement was also unimaginable back then. Unfortunately, it remains so today for most citizens, even for many who, ironically, smoke, vaporize, or eat cannabis on a daily basis. Nearly a century of prohibitionist rhetoric and misinformation doesn’t dissipate overnight.

Most competitive amateur athletes, like their non-athletic peers, don’t understand the potential improvement they could experience in their training and daily lives if they simply adopted moderate use of cannabis—again, with intent.


A happy toker at the Hot Box Cafe in Toronto

The warming weather in Central Texas this year invited me to begin my cycling season a bit earlier than I anticipated. Like many occasions in the past, I consumed cannabis prior to my ride. This time, however, I did so with the intent of improving both my performance and also my appreciation of the experience.

An Exercise of Intent

About 2.5 minutes after my first toke of some sativa Maui Waui—as the THC molecules and terpenes lodged themselves in the CB1 and CB2 receptors of my brain, central nervous system, and immune system (basically my entire body)—I began to feel that common euphoria that wipes away anxiety and worry.

Mitigating and hopefully alleviating anxiety is a key step for many cannabis consumers and athletes who wish to optimize their approach to and appreciation for life.  Or endurance exercise. Is not a more balanced, patient, and calm attitude toward life good for all pursuits, including endurance exercise?

I tried to harness the psychoactive effect of the THC to visualize my own humility. I wanted to know not so much what I could accomplish on the ride, but rather what I could learn. I desired to engage with the smoothly rolling machine below me in a more harmonious, efficient, and fluid manner.

I’ll never compete in the Olympics or turn in impressive tour times, even in my age group. I simply wanted to maximize my potential, regardless of how humble those numbers being stored in the flash memory of my cycling computer might actually be.


A cannabis activist in Hamilton, Ontario around 2007

When inhaling the smoke, I intentionally did so slowly and deeply, but manually carbed it to complete the toke with a cap of clean air, in an effort to push the column of cannabis smoke deep within my lungs. Then, instead of holding it (like so many innocent but misdirected tokers), I gently and slowly released the air, exhaling as much as possible. All in one continuous action.

Athletes: #ComingOutGreen

Civilized recently published an article entitled “How Cannabis Helps This Ultra-Marathoner Race 100 Miles at a Time.” The piece regarded promising distance runner Avery Collins, a young man who is a great example of #ComingOutGreen and one of the top ultra-marathoners in North America.

Collins, a 23-year-old uber-athlete from Jacksonville, North Carolina, has balls of brass—especially considering that he lives in the thick of Prohibition Land. He has admitted his pre-race cannabis consumption habit to major media outlets like the Wall Street Journal.

Collins said he typically consumes before his almost unimaginably long runs, ingesting THC that is either infused into edibles or in the form of 20-50 mg extracted concentrate capsules. Unlike me, he purposefully avoids smoking.

Smart guy. I should vape more and smoke less. But I do take a vape pen on my long journeys for a mid-ride tune-up.

In addition, this young athlete uses cannabis in his post-run recovery (not a small issue, as one might imagine, for those running such a distance). Collins has also successfully used pot topicals to treat injuries and dramatically reduce his recovery time.


The gears that make it happen; are yours moving smoothly?

“It sets the mind free,” Collins told Civilized in January. Illustrating the ability of cannabis to help one focus, regardless of the task, he said, “You don’t think about anything but what’s currently going on.” Collins added, “It makes the greens greener and the blues bluer—but it’s much more than that. It makes the run very spiritual.”

Hidden Benefits?

Spiritual. Interesting choice of words for a 23-year-old.

What is your self-image as a cannabis consumer? Do you consider it a performance enhancer? If you’ve never used pot in this manner, do you believe it has the potential to enhance or improve not only one’s physical and athletic performance, but also their mental functioning and spiritual awareness?

Do you believe that cannabis can allow a person to tap into his or her inner spirituality to gain an edge over either their competition or simply to improve on their PB (personal best)? If such benefits are enjoyed by ultra-marathoners, why not all runners? Could not golfers and tennis players also gain an edge?

What about your boss who loves racquetball, or your neighbor down the street who is into kickboxing two or three times each week? If pro athletes can gain such efficacy from cannabis, does it not go to reason that that the rest of us are missing out if we don’t apply this complex herb to our lives in a similar manner?

They Must be Educated

Unfortunately, nearly half the nation denies the wellness and lifestyle enhancement capabilities of cannabis (more voters are in favor of medical cannabis than adult use, which the media typically refers to as “recreational” consumption).

I always imagined myself as a “recreational” consumer. For years, I perceived myself to be smoking, vaping, or eating cannabis simply for euphoria and enjoyment. Rather than envisioning it enhancing my performance, I bought into the prohibitionist lie that I was screwing around, intoxicating myself, and necessarily blowing off work.


How do you look at the world? How do you use cannabis?

Should we all change the  conceptual framework from which we approach cannabis and its integration into our daily lives? Should we focus more on our intent with this plant to optimize our performance and better accomplish goals as we strive to achieve homeostasis?

As Collins told Civilized earlier this year, “I’m educating people on the simple fact that cannabis can be used in a positive way, as opposed to just getting high and sitting on the couch.”

Actually Using with Intent

Well said. Now let’s just hope conservative forces don’t lock up this world-class athlete for having the bravery to admit not only his use of pot, but to preach the rational performance benefits of a cannabis-centric lifestyle to major media outlets.

The next time you are stressed out and feeling like getting “high” to escape the world, consider instead the power of this plant to reduce your anxiety, depression, pain, or merely crappy attitude enough to allow you to at least try to give the day your best effort.

How do you use cannabis? Is it ever with intent? Do you complement yoga or exercise with the kind herb? Let me know in the comments below.

All text and photos Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a senior technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle, and a contributing writer at

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.


6 thoughts on “Cannabis for Performance Enhancement?

  1. Love the article Gooey, I recently read a few articles written by the wonderful folks at Green Flower Media relevant to cannabis being used for performance enhancement, and my initial thoughts were directed to my past experiences as a young college student being persuaded (easily I might add) into a smoke session before a trip to the gym. I was NOT using with the intent to dominate my workout, and as a result, I wasted over an hour being unfocused, sloppy, and pretty unmotivated. Reanalyzing my thoughts and actions now, I almost feel that I was using cannabis as an excuse for my poor performance.

    Now, older, more professional, and with any luck, a bit more wise, I feel that I’ve been able to reevaluate my personal relationship with cannabis and embrace the effects in a new light. While I’m not quite ready to run a marathon after tossing back an edible, I’ve been using cannabis in conjunction with my yoga practice, and I feel that my focus on my body movements, breathing, and mindset have all improved greatly as a result. Because of intent driven use of cannabis, I feel much more in tune with my mind, body, and soul, and for that I am forever grateful.


  2. Pingback: Cannabis for Performance Enhancement – Part 1 | Gooey Rabinski

  3. Pingback: Cannabis for Performance Enhancement: Part 3 | Gooey Rabinski

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