What to Know About CBD and Running

cbd and running: man holding cbd tincture over gym bag

Posted on August 27th, 2020

Self-improvement is a relentless journey that needs a lot of commitment and discipline. Running is one such journey to self-improvement, whether you’re a pro athlete or just a normal person trying to improve your wellbeing. Regardless of your reasons for running, you likely want to cover as much distance as you can and as fast as you can. That’s why runners are keen to pick up on the latest fads and trends that promise to provide an edge. One such trend is the use of CBD oil that has been heavily-touted as a wonder supplement runners can use to potentially enhance their performance.  

CBD has recently come to the spotlight in the wellness community. It may provide faster recovery periods, enhanced sleep, neutralize pain, alleviating inflammation, and settles disagreeable stomachs. But have these purported advantages CBD is said to have for runners all be hyped-up? Let’s delve into everything you need to know about CBD and running.

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD is short for cannabidiol and is among the 100+ phytocannabinoids extracted from the cannabis plant. CBD has been proven to bolster the endocannabinoid system of the body. This is a neural network that controls the functionality of various systems in the body. The human body produces certain cannabinoids on its own called endocannabinoids. There are also cannabinoid receptors:  

  • CB1 receptors: Linked with coordination, appetite, mood, and is usually affected by marijuana. 
  • CB2 receptors: Affects pain perception and the immune system.

It has been theorized that endocannabinoids play a role in running-induced mood boosts, making it very enticing to runners. The euphoric experience is thought to come from the activation of similar receptors that THC acts upon in the brain. Although not definitively determined, CBD is thought to work through distinct signaling systems compared to THC. 

Will CBD Get You High?

No. It doesn’t work like that. You may be thinking of its cousin ‘THC’ which is the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. Conversely, although CBD is derived from the same plant, it is non-psychoactive, meaning you won’t experience the euphoric ‘high’ felt by using marijuana. 

The good news about CBD is that it doesn’t have any effects that suggest dependence potential or abuse. You can’t get addicted to CBD. CBD contains trace amounts of THC (0.3%), which can’t make you high. 

Is CBD Legal?

Commercially available CBD comes from industrial hemp, which by definition, should not exceed 0.3 percent THC concentration. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the production and manufacture of industrial hemp. Prior to this, it was classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the federal government; its manufacture and distribution were illicit. Considering that CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant, some states still consider its usage illegal. So be sure to check your state regulations and laws about this. 

But if you’re a competing runner, you may wonder if this substance is allowed. In terms of sports and athletics, the World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD derived from hemp from the list of prohibited substances. The legalization of hemp and many companies targeting athletes should aim to dissociate CBD from its cultural affiliation with marijuana. 

Man in blue jacket running through natureCBD and Running: How Does It Work?

Cannabinoids are already existent in the body and are part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is an intricate control center that controls numerous major physiological processes like sleep, pain, metabolism, appetite, stress, and immune functionality. Studies even suggest a link between the endocannabinoid system and the sought after runner’s high. 

CBD has been shown to boost the endocannabinoid system of your body. If you are undergoing training for a marathon, chances are that your body is being put under increased stress levels, which raises your inflammation levels, more than the ECS can handle on its own. This means that replenishing your cannabinoids may provide your endocannabinoid system with additional firepower to maintain balance. Homeostasis is integral to good recovery and achieving all-round wellbeing. 

Purported Benefits of CBD for Runners

Given that medical cannabis was legalized just recently, studies in this sector are in its infancy. Research into the potential benefits of CBD oil is very limited, and even less is known for its effectiveness for runners. With that being said, there are anecdotal reports from athletes and runners on how CBD oil has assisted them with their running-related issues. Some of which include: 

May Reduce Inflammation

Recovery is integral if you’re under an intense training regimen. The faster you recover, the sooner you can get back to training. And that’s where CBD comes into play. Studies indicate CBD oil may help reduce inflammation. It could speed up the recovery process by reducing the inflammation that happens when muscles are fatigued and help repair them and allow one to return to running faster and harder. 

May Help to Alleviate Pain

Unlike taking over-the-counter medications for those post-run complications, CBD may offer a safer alternative and won’t have adverse effects on your kidney. CBD partially works by interacting with our vanilloid and serotonin receptors in our brain, which affects our pain perception and mood. 

It may offer a natural pain relief alternative to NSAIDs, which carries some risks when taken during endurance exercise. So if you find that you want to skip some running days because of sore joints and muscles, CBD oil might be able to assist. 

May Improve Sleep

When training, getting adequate sleep every night is integral. When we’re asleep, the body uses this period to repair itself, which is why it’s so crucial that we get enough sleep each night. Although running is an excellent stress reliever, the rigors of daily life might leave tossing and turning in bed. 

CBD oil has the potential to help with symptoms of depression and anxiety, conditions that may make it hard to fall asleep. CBD affects serotonin production in the body and assists in promoting sleep. What’s more, unlike standard sleep supplements, it isn’t addictive, so you can’t be dependent on it.   

man using cbd salve How to Use CBD for Running

CBD products are available in various forms, including gel caps, topical applications, and tinctures. And just like any other supplement, you will have to know how to ingest CBD to achieve desired results. And the first thing is consistency. You may not notice the effects if you use the product just once. If you want to improve sleep or reduce inflammation to help with running, you’ll need to consistently use the product to achieve the desired results.

There are various options you can use to consume CBD. Some of the methods include:

Sublingual Drops

This refers to placing CBD under the tongue. This method helps in reducing body inflammation, mood, calming, among a range of potential benefits that are useful to runners. When you take CBD oil sublingually, let it sit in your mouth for a while before swallowing it.  

Topicals

This is an alternative to using sublingual drops since CBD topicals can be absorbed in the body via the skin. These products are great for runners looking to target localized pain. 

Capsules

These may come in a gel capsule or a pill form. They are a convenient way to carry and consume CBD. This form offers similar benefits to a tincture but may offer runners the convenience of precise dosing.

However, other popular methods of taking CBD include blending it into smoothies or coffee, carb drinks, protein shakes, gummies, chocolates, and even chewing gum. Among the various options available, you are sure to get a source that best suits you. 

Given how CBD reacts differently with people, it’s recommended that you start with a low dose and gradually increase until you find a dosage that works for you. Remember, for it to be effective, you’ll have to partake in your dosage consistently. 

When to Take CBD Oil for Running

As a runner, you may wonder when is the best time to take CBD oil. This hinges a lot on how your body responds to the CBD and your desired effects. Some individuals give an account of alertness and prefer taking it in the morning, or the afternoon to mitigate that post-lunch slump. Others report it has a calming and relaxing effect and prefers taking CBD oil closer to bedtime or the evening to maximize its sleep advantages. 

Your best bet is to experiment with what time of day works well with your running schedule and the benefits you’re looking for. If you’re looking to target localized pain, then you may use a topical product before or after a run.

You can decide to take sublingual drops each night to help you wind down and look to benefit from improved sleep. Again, quality sleep is a fundamental component that can help achieve good health, enhance workout recovery, and reduce inflammation. 

Final Thoughts

Research into the benefits of CBD and running is still relatively young, and with the lack of universal quality control and industry-wide standards, it will play to your advantage if you conduct your research properly to find a high-quality source from a trusted service provider. And, be sure to consult with your physician before you introduce CBD into your routine. 

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