CBD and heroin addition

Thankfully, I’ve not had to struggle with addiction (unless you count running, which I don’t). However, I am interested in tracking some of the developments in research related to CBD, especially since it was so difficult for researchers to work with until very recently due to federal regulations.

Well, a recent study in the American Journal of Psychiatry recently found that CBD is effective at reducing cravings for heroin and reduces anxiety as well. That’s pretty cool! For anyone paying attention, there is an opioid crisis in the United States and anything that can help people without nasty side effects is a great thing. I realize that looking to CBD for some help running is minor in the scheme of things so I wanted to give a shout out to CBD for some of it’s larger potential.

International travel with CBD

I’m spending about 10 days traveling in Taiwan and Japan. I’ve already gotten in 12 miles in the past 3 days so I’m feeling pretty good that the trip isn’t interrupting my training too much. I travel internationally a few times a year and it’s always a problem in terms of disrupting my training plans as I am usually pretty busy and can never run as much as I would at home (especially with long plane rides getting in the way.)

It got me thinking about CBD and international travel. My recommendation is that you simply don’t. Don’t bring it. It’s always good practice to bring medication (especially prescription medications) in the original bottle and even to have a doctor’s prescription if it’s something particularly important. But you have to keep in mind that different countries have different laws about drugs and you cannot assume that what is legal in the United States is legal elsewhere. Furthermore, you have very few if any rights when crossing international boundaries so getting searched and having things seized is easy (albeit uncommon.) It is better to not even appear like you are doing anything wrong. For better or worse, the association between CBD and marjuanna is there and I don’t see any point in even looking like you are doing anything wrong. Leave the CBD at home.

What does CBD taste like?

I switched from taking the CBD in my smoothies to holding it under my tongue after doing some reading into the differential uptake of CBD and it sounds like just swallowing it isn’t necessarily the best. Also, that’s what it says on my bottle to do. So, I take two squirts (about a half dropper each) under my tongue and hold it there for about a minute before swallowing.

But the really important question is, what does it taste like? Needless to say, it is oily in texture. That’s a little gross, but nothing at all like the oil pulling craze of last year. It’s not enough to really be too gross. I would describe the taste itself as nutty/grassy/earthy. I probably wouldn’t want to drink a whole glass of it, but at the same time it isn’t unpleasant. If anything, it makes me feel like I am taking something natural and relatively unrefined (at least compared to pills).

I know that there are some flavored oils out there so they might be worth trying if you really don’t like the taste. However, in the sense that this is an experiment of one, I want to reduce the number of variables as much as possible. On a related note, after a couple weeks, I do feel like perhaps I am sleeping better. Except on weekends, I roll out of bed pretty reliably at 6:00 AM and I don’t feel like it has been as much of a drag as it has in the past. Of course, some of that is the fact that it is spring and both warmer and lighter when I wake up. But hey, effects are effects, right?

The lure of overcoming unpredictability

Iao Needle on Maui in Hawaii

It’s quite possible that I have a serious case of the Mondays so please be patient. I like challenging myself. When I saw Iao Needle in Maui last month, I kept thinking to myself. I wonder what’s on top of there? I wonder how hard it would be to climb up there? Let me say that it peaked my curiosity and interest. Of course, you aren’t allowed to climb over there nor did I have time as our plane was taking off that afternoon. Still, it reminded me of what I find motivating.

It’s definitely not winning. At least in the sense of competing against others, the idea of standing on a podium holds no real thrill (OK, only a little). It’s probably a good thing since my plodding training runs of 10 minute miles are never going to put me at the top of any podium. Sure, I have these moments during races where I see a runner in front of me or behind me and I do my best to kick it in gear to pass or stay ahead, but the thrill is only fleeting.

I thought for a while that I am motivated by the fear of failure. That seems like an odd motivation since I don’t really need to run ultramarathons. It might help motivate me to run because, well, who likes to fail? That’s not really a motivation to sign up for a race since the easiest way to avoid failure is not to try at all. Of course, fear of failure plays a role because the feeling of success at overcoming a challenge when failure is not only an option, but in some cases probable, is like no other.

I am motivated by the feeling that comes from overcoming my fear of failure. In fact, I miss it. I struggle when things are too predictable or the challenges in front of me are too small or too approachable. There are delicious unknowns in 100 mile races. With 3 DNFs (did not finish) under my belt, success is hardly a foregone conclusion. But with 4 finishes under my belt, I also remember what it feels like to overcome that fear and succeed nonetheless and that is, I hope, enough motivation for me to complete this training cycle and complete the race. My plan right now is to put my money where my mouth is if I can keep up with my training plan for two more weeks.

CBD, Sleepiness, and Ultrarunning

One of the big difference between a 50 mile run and a 100 mile run is the sleep factor. Especially when you are just looking to finish (like me!), you have to factor in simple lack of sleep. My finish times have always been between 29 and 30 hours and, for those of you new to the ultra scene, most people do not sleep during this time. For me this has led to times when I have fallen asleep while walking. Basically, I’ve been walking along in a daze, usually more towards the end of a race, and then woken suddenly to find myself 50 feet down the trail with no memory of getting there. This is also why you have to “battle the chair” because sometimes it is simply too hard to get up once you sit down.

I’m a little worried about CBD in this regard. Sleepiness is a well known side effect and, in fact, its ability to relax people is a common reason to take it. My training is not nearly to the point when I am doing late night runs, but I think that I will need to do some tests when I run late at night and take some CBD either right before or in the middle of my runs. Possibly a cup of coffee or something can help mitigate the effects (or maybe they won’t even be an issue). However, I definitely want to test it out before race time. Just something that I’ve been thinking about during this whole experiment.

On a related note, I got my first bottle of CBDPure today. That makes me really happy since I can switch from the somewhat shady bottle of Chinese product that I got from Amazon to something more reliable. I do like to know what I am putting into my body and there are too many unknowns related to many other manufacturers.

CBD for running recovery

Probably my primary interest in CBD relates to its ability to assist with my recovery from runs. The biggest challenge in training for 100 mile race isn’t the finish line. It’s making it to the start line without your training plan going awry. My hope is that the CBD that I’m taking each day will help. Scientific research in this area is new, but I found some articles worth examining if you are also interested in using CBD oil to help keep your running plan on track.

There does appear to be evidence that CBD can reduce inflammation which mat, in turn, help recovery. Check out this article from Men’s Health: https://www.menshealth.com/health/a26467604/cbd-for-inflammation-muscle-recovery/

This is a blog, but shows the experience of another runner using CBD:

Here’s one from Outside magazine that also explains some of the current trends with athletes and CBD:

I also thought that this article does a good job of summarizing things that runners should think about before taking CBD:

Want to know how things are going for me? Find me on Instagram @cbdrunning!

First CBD post-run test

So I mixed up my first batch of (hopefully) post-run magic recovery nutritional beverage. Before I review, let me give a little context. Until my back injury about month and a half ago, I was running about 20 miles per week, typically in 5 mile intervals. I’ve done up to 75 mile weeks with 35 to 40 mile weeks being common. A 5 mile run wasn’t a big deal and probably doesn’t require any sort of recovery drink, but I typically do a similar smoothie each night (without the CBD) so figured I would have one after my run.

Tonight’s recipe is similar to one that I have maybe 3 or 4 times a week:

  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon spirolina
  • 1 scoop whey protein powder
  • A few ice cubes to help it blend
  • 1/2 dropper of CBD

I shook it up and drank it. The taste was mostly of the vanilla whey powder with some of the typical funk of the spirolina. I couldn’t tell there was any CBD added. I had a few reservations about the NeoHemp brand that I ended up ordering off Amazon because it was labeled as being made in China, which made me a little uncomfortable given reports that many hemp seed oil products being sold off Amazon don’t actually have CBD. Also, a 2017 study showed that 70% of products don’t even contain the amount of CBD on their label. It was sort of my fault since I was eager to get this project started and did little more than find an inexpensive brand with two day shipping and go from there. I’m going to do a little research to find a more reputable brand.

That being said, my test appeared to go just fine (I wasn’t really expecting any magic, just hoping not to experience any side effects.) According to existing research, the most common side effects are tiredness, diarrhea, and changes of appetite/weight. I was already sort of tired and it’s too early to see any appetite or weight change. I didn’t find myself running off to the toilet so I’m going to call it a win for day 1.

Why ultrarunning and CBD?

2017 Hallucination 100 Mile Ultramarathon

Well, the first one is easy. I like to run. I like to have time to myself to think and enjoy the outdoors. I like to challenge myself. I like that feeling of stretching myself to the point where I am unsure what my limits are. I like the confidence that comes from finishing and know that I didn’t break. That time.

The CBD (or Cannabidiol) thing is a little more complicated. I’ve been interested in holistic medicine for a long time, whether it is acupuncture or herbal remedies. While I’ve approached it with some healthy scientific skepticism (I do have a Ph.D.), I also recognize that the political economy of the pharmaceutical industry isn’t set up to provide us with the best or even healthiest range of options. That’s led me to experiment with a few different things that may not have a full body of evidence supporting their effect, but at least don’t appear to be harmful. Examples for me would include things like glucosamine chondroitin (which I am very convinced helps my knees and hips), spirolina (which seems to keep my allergies at bay), and tumeric (anti-inflammatory). With the recent regulatory changes related to hemp and the rise of the CBD industry, I figured why not give it a try?

The real answer is that I want to keep running ultramarathons and I’m getting old. Older at least. In 2017, I dropped out of my last 100 mile race after mile 80 because of hip pain and last month I spent nearly a month incapacitated caused by an apparently out of the blue back injury. My recovery time isn’t what it used to be and balancing work/life/family demands is always a challenge. If there is something that can help me bounce back a little faster and avoid injuries, I am all in. Well, at least I am willing to give it a try with careful consideration and testing.

I know that the science behind CBD is a little murky, but I know enough about science (and I even teach college statistics!) to know that a lack of evidence doesn’t mean that there is no association. It is possible that science just hasn’t found it yet. Furthermore, the (until recently) federal regulations making research on hemp based products difficult has made collecting that evidence really problematic. And when it comes down to it, I’m a pragmatist! If it helps my running and doesn’t hurt me in other ways, I don’t need to know why! So stay tuned as today is the first official day of my training plan and I will keep you updated as things progress!

Run the Javelin Jundred?

So, I’m thinking about running the Javelina Jundred 100 Mile Ultramarathon at the end of October. It’s a bit of an ambitious goal because I had originally targeted this back in January and was well on my way to training for it when a sudden back injury sidelined me for over a month. And when I say sidelined, I mean my wife had to help me get dressed in the morning for weeks and I had a few days when I couldn’t get out of bed. It was honestly the most chronic pain that I’ve ever dealt with.

Are you starting to see why I’m interested in the possible benefits of CBD? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not putting all of my eggs in one basket. I’m finishing up physical therapy and planning to do more cross training than in the past. My hope is that CBD will be the extra edge to keep me on track by keeping inflammation at bay and shorten recovery time.In any case, I was originally planning on shooting for a race later in the year or even early next year, but I realized that this will be my last shot to qualify for Western States this year. Unfortunately, it also means that I will be jumping into 30 mile training weeks with relatively little base. In any case, I’m not going to drop the $300+ registration fee until my body holds hold up for a few weeks. Wish me luck!

Life’s a journey, not a destination.

I decided that I need another project. Maybe it’s a midlife crisis driving an attempt to hold onto my youth (I’m 43). Maybe it’s just curiosity or boredom and my interest will fade in a few months.

I’ve decided to run 100 miles. Again.

I’ve completed 100 mile races four times. I’ve also failed four times. My last attempt was in 2017. My last successful run was in 2016 (https://youtu.be/Vs76R0sSipI). I’ve actually been running ultramarathons on and off for over 15 years. I even used to blog about it. And let me tell you, it hasn’t gotten any easier.

I decided to do a little experiment this time around. I’m currently waiting for a small bottle of CBD oil to arrive at my doorstep. For those who haven’t heard the buzz, this is a hemp derivative that has some interesting medical potential and has only recently become legal through the US. This will be my experiment of one as I see whether CBD can help me on my journey to 100 miles.

Why CBD? Honestly, it’s because I stumbled across this interesting article in Runner’s World where the author used it for a month with some success. The idea of avoiding ibuprofen while also reducing the aches and pains of training sounded pretty good. I still need to pick a target race and to develop a training plan (and to even take any CBD oil), but please follow me as a start this little experiment of one.