I am not a doctor, scientist, or expert on CBD, but I am an ultrarunner who chases a lifestyle that supports my running habit, including ways to maximize my body’s ability to heal and recover. The newest tool in my toolbox is CBD, or cannabidiol, which is a naturally occurring compound that is often extracted from the hemp plant (it can also be extracted from tree bark and other sources). In the US, CBD is legal, and it is also approved by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Because it comes from hemp, there is a lot of confusion surrounding CBD. CBD is not tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. CBD will not get you high, but it has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation. It is currently having a moment and has been suggested to solve a host of issues, I’ll focus on my own experiences.
No stranger to injury big and small, I have tried just about everything to speed healing and reduce pain. Ibuprofen has been a staple, but one that I try to avoid, especially after a bad experience as a newbie ultrarunner at my first race…I’ll spare you the details, but it was bad. I’m a huge believer in massage and chiropractic care. My home care routine includes Bikram yoga, scrapping, an EMS unit, and an assortment of knobby balls. For every niggle, I have a torture device. But, even without injury ultrarunning and heavy lifting can leave the body stiff, so when I hear about a natural way to support my habit; I’m all in.
There are as many different ways to take CBD as there are trails to get lost on in the PNW. CBD was initially suggested to me by a budtender (like a bartender, but at a pot shop) as a way to reduce stiffness post-run. I have a tight budget for such treats, so I started with a taffy primarily because it cost just $10. This taffy comes in two different types: one that contains caffeine called the Daily CBD Focus, and one that contains melatonin called the Daily CBD Sleepy. They are sold as a single serving, but a single taffy will last me at least a week (mostly taken after a long run). I started with the Focus taffy and found that it reduced soreness and stiffness just enough to allow me to move freely post-adventure, and the small amount of caffeine provided a little pep too. Then I tried the sleepy time taffy. This was a game changer. I take it the night before a race/adventure, which helps me get to sleep regardless of the comfort of my ‘bed’. It isn’t magic, but it does help me turn off my mind and fall asleep, which is a big deal the night before a race. Also, there is no morning hang-over or drowsiness side effect. Post-big effort runs, especially races, I usually can’t sleep the night after. My body hurts, I’m jacked up on sugar, and my hormones are doing somersaults. The lack of sleep results in total exhaustion delayed healing, and stiffness the following day; so, my post-race sleepy time CBD is now just as important as my pre-race sleepy time. For example, I was walking perfectly normal the day after Bighorn 100 without any problems, even on the stairs!
The taffy was my primary source of CBD until recently when I purchased a tincture. I did this to save money as the tincture provides a more bioavailable dosage and is better quality. Plus, I don’t always want caffeine or melatonin. The tincture has a mild herby flavor, which I take directly on the tongue, but it can easily be added to a food or beverage of your choice. Additionally, there are numerous bars and cafes in Portland that offer CBD tincture as an add-on to food and beverages.
After tincture, I was introduced to a CBD salve that has been developed specifically with ultrarunners in mind, the Prevail Botanicals Aid Station Salvation (ASS). This is a topical application that smells so delicious, the ultra-eater in me really wants to have a bite, but I resist. The salve is great for targeted pain relief. So far it has been effective on lower back pain, glute pain, and sore feet. I highly recommend using it on the bottom of your feet at bedtime post-long run. I didn’t have it for the Bighorn 100 earlier in the year, but I did take it to the Bear 100 where I crewed and paced a friend. It definitely came in handy. My runner had calf pain the day before the race and after the start. I slathered the salve on her leg and by the next AS, no complaints. We both used it on our quads during the second half of the race which was nice because that course was brutal, and of course the post-race bottom of the feet application. It was a much-appreciated addition to my crew/pace kit.
CBD infused beverages are also making their way onto the market. They have the potential to be an easy post-run recovery drink. My current favorite is Copa CBD sparkling water. I like it for a simple reason: I want to drink it post-run. I usually reach for an IPA, but I’m willing to wait until after I drink a Copa because it is tasty, lightly carbonated, and provides nano-emulsified CBD that helps with recovery (nano-emulsification makes it water soluble and available for absorption). I’ve also been drinking a Copa post-lifting session, which I do twice a week, and I have noticed that I’m not as sore as usual.
So, as I said, there are tons of ways to take CBD; many don’t involve going to a pot shop if that’s not your thing. Side note, pot shops are not scary, and the budtenders are knowledgeable and helpful. You can buy CBD online, at New Seasons, gas stations, cafes, really all over the place. If you’re interested in maximizing recovery without taking ibuprofen or other painkillers, give it a try. Definitely, experiment to see what works for you. The one thing I recommend is to purchase high-quality products. Just like eating good-for-you food better fuels your body for the long run, high-quality supplements will provide the most effective results.
Below is more information about each product.
Disclaimer: I am an athlete ambassador for Prevail Botanicals and friends with the maker of Copa CBD sparkling water.
Daily CBD Focus taffy: https://portland.hellodiem.com/product/edibles/cbd-focus-taffy/
Orange lemon, 50mg CBD, $7-10.00
Daily CBD Sleepy taffy: https://portland.hellodiem.com/product/edibles/cbd-sleepy-taffy/
Cherry berry, 12mg CBD, $7-10.00
240 mg CBD, Volume 0.5ml, $40.00
COPA CBD sparkling water: https://www.instagram.com/copacbd/
10mg, 35 calories, 16 oz, $6