First it starts with a 5K. Next thing you know your child has moved onto a 10K, then a half marathon, then even a full marathon. Spending hours every week feeding this disgusting habit. And by disgusting I mean nipple chafing and foot blisters.  

Why do people run? In our last episode we talked about the health benefits of running, which I’m pretty certain a lot of people probably run for that reason, maybe even exclusively, or at least get started for health reasons — but MAYBE lots of people also run because… well… they get high.

What do we conclude?

It seems pretty clear that you can get high from running.  Now, whether this is relatively mild changes in pain perception, or slightly elevated mood following running, or getting outright blitzed mid-run seems to vary between runners, but it’s good to know at least the mild form is repeatable!  We still don’t really know the mechanisms–there might be endorphins, but that’s a hard thing to be sure of.  Endocannabinoids seem like a pretty likely candidate too, but the case is far from settled!  The best evidence we have suggests that a 30 minute run at 70-80% of your maximum heart rate (not too fast!) seems to make most runners feel good.  

Smoking pot recreationally before running doesn’t seem to have the negative effects you might think it does–since it’s a bronchodilator. But since it also increases heart rate, it doesn’t seem like it would be helpful to smoke up pre race (maybe just for a training run). Whether or not pot is a performance enhancing drug is still being sorted out, but there’s no blaring sign that you *shouldn’t* occasionally smoke up before running if it’s legal in your jurisdiction.  Just take ‘er easy.

Studies mentioned in this episode:

Getting the runner’s high is pretty common

Old definition of the runner’s high as a “transcendental” experience

New definition of runner’s high

The runner’s high as a placebo response

People who think the runner’s high is a myth

Blood plasma levels of endorphins increase after exercise

More endorphin studies

Yet more endorphin studies!

And more!

PET study showing possible endorphins in the brain

Naloxone doesn’t block the mood effects of therunner’s high

Naloxone does seem to block some of the pain relieving effects

Review suggests the endorphin hypothesis has little evidence

A review of the endocannabinoid system

First evidence of endocannabinoid release in runners

Review of exercise and the endocannabinoid system

Optimal running dose for endocannabinoid release

Running in adolescence reduces cannabinoid receptors in rats

Knocking out cannabinoid receptors decreases wheel running in mice

Blocking cannabinoid receptors decreases running in mice

Exercise addition and endocannabinoids

Review of cannabis and sports

Judgement impairment following cannabis use

Cannabis use doesn’t always decrease reaction time

Old Canadian studies on pot use and cycling

Cannabis decreases grip strength

Review of cardiovascular effects of cannabis

Cannabis use increases heart rate

Cannabis is a bronchodilator

Potential use of cannabis as an anti inflammatory drug 

Review of effects of cannabis on exercise performance

Cannabis smoking doesn’t decrease lung function

Cannabis smoking doesn’t seem to have negative lung effects