Work hard, play hard: we can get behind that philosophy. And for long-distance runners, gym junkies, wannabe tennis pros, and anyone else who wants to a) operate at peak physical performance and b) still unwind at the finish line, there's mounting evidence to suggest cannabis is a winner.
1. No hangover exhaustion
Olympic gold medallist turned cannabis entrepreneur Ross Rebagliati tells Civilized the lack of side effects is a major factor in his use of marijuana. "If you're an athlete and you need to make choice between alcohol and cannabis, cannabis can help you relax, and help your body recover, on a way deeper level than alcohol."
"Sure, alcohol has the psychological effect of relaxing you. But it's not good for you: you get the side effects, the hangover, you can't go to bed or get up early, you can't make the most of daylight - and those are all things that healthy people and athletes have to do."
While alcohol might help you drift off/pass out, regular use has been linked to sleep disorders. While cannabis users occasionally experience residual grogginess after an extremely heavy session, overall, studies indicate taking either THC or CBD before bed leads to an increase in overall sleep time, as well as deeper sleep.
2. Boosts your body's recovery time
The training applications of cannabis "go against the stereotype of couch-locked stoner," as Rebagliati puts it - a point with which ultra-marathoner Avery Collins agrees. Collins, who's won international media attention for running crazy 100-mile races while under the influence of cannabis, tells Civilized the plant assists with a sport that is, for him 80 percent mental. "It really sets the mind free. You don't think about anything but what's currently going on. It makes the run very spiritual - the greens greener and the blues bluer, but it's much more than that."
But if you're a person who has a hard time sitting still, a little couch-lock isn't necessarily a bad thing. Rebagliati offers minor injuries as an example: "Let's say you have to stay off your knee: there are heavy indica extracts that can keep you on the couch and give your body time to recover."
3. Can be tailored to training
Collins agrees that different strains and consumption methods work for different points in training. "It takes time to dial in on how to use certain products properly and effectively so that you're still productive," he says. On a typical training run, Collins takes between 20-50mg of THC depending on the distance, and whether it's a speed workout or a long run.
While cannabis and athletics don't mix for everyone, today's increased access to reliable strain information means you can tailor the product to the feeling you hope to achieve - unlike the old days, when you have to take whatever your guy happened to have in stock. As Rebagliati puts it, "It's like tea or coffee. A lot of the bad experiences come from people who are already intoxicated with alcohol smoking too much: we need to educate people about dosing, and safe tolerance so that you can function even better than normal. That way, it helps with both athletics, and with the day-to-day grind we all live with."
At the end of the day, serious athletes should engage in conscious consumption that factors in their individual needs and temperaments.
"Ultimately, cannabis includes all walks of life, " says Rebagliati - and that includes those of us who are in it to win it.