More exploration of the topic of cannabis for performance enhancement during endurance exercise like long-distance and competitive running, cycling, and swimming. Is cannabis more than medicine, especially when used with intent and a thorough knowledge of dosing and efficacy?
To catch up with the party, check out the previous installments in this series:
- Cannabis for Performance Enhancement?
- Cannabis for Performance Enhancement: Part 1
- Cannabis for Performance Enhancement: Part 2
The efficacy of cannabis for exercise—be it of the endurance nature or just a quick ride around the block—proved itself to me on my last cycling adventure in a way I simply had not anticipated.
I should have guessed that a particular sound meant a mechanical breakdown was imminent. But the distracting click came and went. And when it wasn’t present, I was a happy, ignorant pig in asphalt mug, ignoring reality while I tried to avoid a close encounter with a Ford F-150.
Not even two miles out, it happened: The manifestation of a mechanical meltdown. I was mired in merciless melancholy.
Actually, I was, surprisingly, barely frustrated. In fact, I was slightly entertained.
I squinted at the evening sun as I considered pausing the Foo Fighters song on my iPhone. Instead, I elected to simply begin the awkward walk home. Those cleated cycling shoes are more than worthless when not locked into a fancy overpriced carbon fiber pedal….
Being late in the evening, with only about an hour of dusk left, I was out of commission for the day. I had screwed the pooch, as my U.S. Air Force-trained father would have said.
In a more wholly un-American move than I have pulled in several months, I was happy in the face of bad news. Instead of the responding with frustration or anger, I was going mad scientist Aussie and laughing at the crock.
It had been a stressful week. Disruption is often good and sometimes bad, but always stressful. I was in need of a beating on the bike. As I finished my work, the anticipation of the ride continued to build, like some primitive lust for a harsh, familiar intoxicant.
Normally a mechanical meltdown of this nature could elicit more than a few select—and decidedly crude—words from my otherwise PG-rated lexicon. But not this time.
Having consumed cannabis during my funky deep-toking breathing exercises prior to my ride, I was medicated enough to do no more than silently laugh as I walked my carbon fiber ballerina the 1.8 or so miles back to the house.
As traffic zipped past on the busy North Austin boulevard, I smiled at a cloudy, puckered sunset. I doubt I would have noticed it had I been madly pushing down the road, all bike parts fluidly co-mingling in the fast-paced synchronous mesh I like to call “when the shit works.”
I certainly wouldn’t have taken it in as I was at that time, my skinny dilapidated two-wheeler in tow and the very real prospect of a fairly pricey repair bill awaiting me (enough to purchase plenty of good cannabis on the Austin black market).
Mechanical breakdowns, flats, and other maladies of the road are an inherent part of cycling. They’re actually a large slice of what make it special, if you can follow that twisted logic. A long ride lacking a breakdown or tire puncture is obviously one for the win column.
“Suffering such problems is merely part of the risk. And maybe why I and a couple million other road cyclists get so excited about it.”
Performance = Rolling with the Punches
My breakdown turned out to be one of the best days of the cycling season. As ironic as that sounds, it’s true. I know my nature. I know how I typically respond to things.
If conservatives want to balk at my playing in traffic “high,” I’ll simply counter with the fact that I’m not the one popping pills and sucking down sugar and alcohol all day long as I text and check Facebook in rush hour traffic.
You think I don’t see the flasks, fries, and ADD-addled driving when I’m on the road?
There’s much contention over the categorization of cannabis: Drug or herb? Both? By many technical definitions, a “drug” is synthesized in a laboratory. Let’s assume cannabis is a drug. This natural drug helps millions of Americans deal with stressful situations with calm alertness and rational confidence. Try that with booze or so many pharmaceutical drugs.
Booze and pharmaceuticals are what I consider “fuzzy” drugs. While some so-called indica strains can deliver couchlock and lethargy to many users, a balanced hybrid or sativa does, in my experience, the opposite. It clarifies. It balances. It puts things into focus (your mileage may vary; efficacy is sometimes extremely subjective).
Pot doesn’t shut down my mind or perceptions. In fact, it heightens them. This is why some get paranoid, especially newbies who don’t have solid canna-mentors or knowledge of the efficacy of individual cannabinoids, like THC. With cannabis, regardless of the situation, I can retain my manners and respect for others. Try that after half a bottle of Jameson.
Pot vs. Booze & Pharmies
I seem to recall friends and colleagues who took a variety of pharmaceutical drugs over the years telling me how they experienced disturbances in sleep or sex drive or became angry or depressed or experienced anal bleeding or any number of truly nasty symptoms. Anecdotally, it seems that well over half the time, the condition for which they were taking the drug never—or only temporarily—abated.
For those of you who indulge in TV commercials: If the narration must speed up by a factor of 2.5 to include the legal disclaimers for a drug commercial, you might wanna reconsider your wellness strategy.
Oh yeah, cannabis for performance enhancement. Now where was I?
Professional cyclists have gotten so pissed during mishaps in a race that they’ve thrown their bikes into the ditch. Anger is a nasty beast. The ability of cannabis to mitigate the anxiety resulting from mechanical breakdowns when on the road is…well, let’s say significant. At least in my experience.
Once such a lesson in calmly dealing with a crappy situation is experienced, and the benefits become apparent, the same intelligent strategy can be employed—with or without cannabis. Just because one learns a lesson when experiencing the mild (or not so mild) euphoria of THC is no reason they can’t remember it and live by it at all times—high or not.
Invaluable is the ability to roll with the punches and live with a happy memory—instead of the embarrassment of having blown a gasket (yours, not your bike’s).
If cannabis can do this during endurance exercise, what can it do during the workday? When caring for children? Reports say quite a few Americans—as in possibly 10 percent of the workforce—consume cannabis before or during their workday.
Are they gaining similar benefits to my experience? Are they not “going postal” on an unreasonable boss or an incessantly obnoxious co-worker because they’ve experienced the calming and often positive intellectual effects of a good hybrid or sativa cannabis?
All text and photos Copyright © 2003-2018 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, Cannabis Culture, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis Health Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.