Written By Jasper Johnson
Jasper is a new member of the Ultra X team. A keen middle distance runner who is looking to up the distance to an ultra marathon, Jasper enjoys writing about all things running.
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In recent years, CDB oil has been popping up more and more regularly across popular media. It seems to be a key ingredient of an ever-increasing number of sports recovery products and has now hit the ultra running scene. Purported benefits include better sleep, faster recovery, pain alleviation, stress reduction, and more – making it the perfect supplement for every ultra runners’ recovery strategy, right? In this piece, we dive into the world of cannabis-derived recovery products and share our perspective on their benefits.
What is CBD oil?
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a cannabis derived oil, but do not let that put you off – using it will not make you high as you run off into the hills!
CBD oil is a non-intoxicating oil. It contains only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, making the use of CBD oil more accepted as a pain killer for athletes.
Why do people use CBD oil?
People have used CBD for thousands of years to treat various types of pain, but the running community have only recently begun to use it to aid performance. Research has shown CBD oil acts as a painkiller and an anti-inflammatory by aiding the body’s ability to self-regulate its internal hormones.
Its anti-inflammatory effects – and the associated benefits of improved recovery – are of particular appeal to athletes. This is especially true within multi-stage ultramarathon events, as recovery between stages is a vital factor in performing optimally the following day. Moreover, CBD oil has been shown to improve sleep, which further enhances its effect on recovery. The interaction between CBD oil and hormones within the body can help relax muscles and receptors, increasing the overall length and quality of sleep.
How and when is CBD oil taken?
CBD oil is best taken with a meal, preferably one high in unsaturated fat (eg nuts and cheese), as this allows more of the active component of CBD oil to be absorbed into the body – otherwise known as first-pass metabolism.
Taking CBD oil 30 minutes before going to bed can also help the body to rewind and relax, allowing for a longer and higher quality sleep.
Lastly, taking CBD oil before and after an intense period of exercise – whether that be a hard training session or a race – can reduce inflammation, alleviate pain, and boost your overall recovery right when you need it.
Is CBD oil allowed in ultra marathons?
Earlier this year, CBD oil was removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) list of prohibited substances, making CBD oil an increasingly popular supplement amongst elite athletes, including ultra runners.
However, as the variety of CBD oil products available on the market increases, there is growing concern over the quality of some products. Some CBD oils have been found to contain small amounts of THC (the psychoactive element in cannabis), which has resulted in some athletes failing drug tests. In 2019, American free-skier Devin Logan received a three-month suspension from the US Anti-Doping Agency for failing a drugs test, which she attributed to the use of a CBD-based product that had higher than normal traces of THC.
I’m Not a Runner, but in the Spirit of Marathon Season I Tried CBD-Fueled Runs—Here’s What Happened
It’s not that I don’t enjoy exercising. I’ve played soccer my whole life, and I take part in group workout classes regularly. But setting out on the open pavement just to run? Doesn’t exactly strike my fancy.
But, after spending a recent afternoon getting lost in an internet wormhole of inspirational running stories related to the upcoming Los Angeles Marathon, I somehow found myself lacing up my sneakers and jogging down to the path near my apartment. (If you’re ever lacking in workout motivation, I highly recommend this tactic, because clearly it worked on me.)
One unpleasant element of running I was quickly reminded of by my sore calves and tight hamstrings? The importance of recovery. Determined not to let soreness get in the way of my new workout of choice (the inspo was real, y’all), I decided to dabble in a new trend I’d been hearing about: Topical CBD for running.
I’m no stranger to CBD skin care, but for more intel on its connection to workout recovery, I asked Kerrigan Behrens—co-founder and co-CEO at Sagely Naturals—for her take on how to use CBD to keep my muscles happy after pounding the pavement for several miles.
“Recovery is imperative for runners, regardless of their level, [because] allowing your body proper recovery time helps eliminate injuries, burnout, and overall exhaustion,” Behrens says. “CBD is a powerful plant-based ally that helps keep your body in balance so you can perform at your optimal level.”
Now, I don’t expect myself to go run a marathon any time soon, but since my previous attempts at getting into a running rhythm have definitely ended in burnout and exhaustion, I decided to give the CBD approach a try. So I slathered on Sagely Naturals Relief & Recovery Cream and Spray, and with that, I was off.
Keep scrolling to find out how I used CBD for running, and see if I became an official convert.
Photo: Sagely Naturals
How I prepped
Like I mentioned earlier, I play soccer, and during a game you run an average of five to seven miles. Having just signed up for a new league, this self-imposed running challenge came at a great time to help build up my endurance. However, my knees have been bothering me lately, so I gave them extra attention with Sagely Naturals Relief & Recovery Spray prior to my running sessions.
Spritzing it on pre-run was an intentional recommendation from Behrens, as the ingredients in the spray (hemp-derived broad spectrum CBD grown in the United States and peppermint, eucalyptus, and rosemary essential oils) work together to provide a cooling sensation that’s designed to warm up your body (or in my case, my wonky knee) before getting your sweat on.
“For a lot of people, it can take a few minutes—or even a few miles!—to really feel like their body is warmed up and ready to perform,” Behrens says. “Our Relief & Recovery Cream and Spray provide an instant cooling sensation that helps rejuvenate your body and helps you reach that warmed-up sweet spot much faster.”
How I recovered
At the end of my next few runs, my knees felt so much better than they normally would after jogging in the freezing cold, which I attributed to the recovery spray. However, my quads and ankles were still feeling achy from the frigid air and the sudden bursts of movement. That’s when my (second) ultimate recovery tool entered the scene: Sagely Naturals Relief & Recovery Cream.
The cream is applied like a moisturizer, so post-run I rubbed it onto my sore spots, and quickly became a firm believer that everyone should get on board with post-workout mini massages (it felt that good). Not only did it fill my nostrils with a delightful peppermint scent, but it also left a refreshing sensation from quads to toes—making me feel like I was beginning the recovery process on demand.
Like the spray, the cream contains hemp-derived CBD and peppermint oil, but the differentiating ingredient is the soothing argan oil (hence the massage-like element). “Argan oil is rich in vitamins that help moisturize your skin, which is especially wonderful in the dry winter months,” Behrens adds. Confirmed: Using CBD for running has helped convert me into a person who chooses to run.