CBD For Runners: What You Should Know
CBD is everywhere you go these days—and the hype isn’t ending any time soon—but can it really offer any benefits for your running game? Evidence suggests that it may be helpful for runners both before and after workouts—but how? Below we dive deep into CBD for runners and cover everything you need to know to leverage CBD to get the most out of your next run.
What Is CBD—And How Does It Relate To Fitness?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabis and hemp that won't cause you to feel high. Unlike its fellow cannabinoid THC, it won't cause you to catch a buzz— and is most commonly extracted from hemp grown specifically for supplemental and nutritional use.
Also—unlike THC—it's completely legal here in the states, as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. At that level, CBD supplements won't cause any intoxicating effects. But more importantly, according to the World Health Organization, CBD is safe.¹ They have even stated that "CBD is generally well-tolerated with a good safety profile. Reported adverse effects may be a result of interactions between CBD and patients' existing medications." They went on to say that "in its pure state, cannabidiol does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm."²
As a runner, you may have noted that the World Anti-Doping Agency listed CBD as a prohibited substance for athletes for quite some time.³ However, it was removed in 2019 due to the potential therapeutic benefits it could offer athletes. That being said, CBD could be a safe, non-addictive supplement that plays a unique role within your body—especially for any athletes engaging in high-intensity workouts, such as running.
How Does CBD Support Runners?
CBD works closely with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) found throughout our bodies.⁴ The ECS is responsible for managing a host of automatic processes within the body—including your sleep-wake cycle, mood, appetite, immune system function, and responses to inflammation and pain.
Your body already naturally produces a ton of natural cannabinoids on its own, better known as endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are chemical messengers the ECS uses to talk to various systems in the body—with the goal of keeping the body balanced and functioning at its best. At a basic level, CBD can amplify your ECS. As a cannabinoid, CBD binds to and interacts with the endocannabinoid receptors throughout your ECS—which may support it in triggering a balanced state (or homeostasis).
For example, some studies suggest the ECS is responsible for triggering that glorious runner's high.⁵ Since running puts your body under tremendous stress, your ECS kicks into overdrive to help you remain level so you can feel your best as you undergo that stress—like a little reward for putting in work, even if it's the body responding to trauma.
Your ECS wants to stay level, so when you're running, it's ramping up inflammation and triggering the release of anandamide—an endocannabinoid (also known as the bliss molecule) that is the source of that runner's high, making you feel mentally lifted despite dealing with so much pain.⁶
When you run for long distances or train for a marathon sprint, you’re prone to deal with greater inflammation than your ECS can cope with. That's where CBD comes into play.⁷ As your body produces plenty of endocannabinoids on its own, integrating a little CBD into the mix may help the ECS keep up with the trauma as it helps maintain balance. That so-called homeostasis is crucial to both overall health and speedy recovery after a run.
Is CBD Good For Runners?
CBD shows a lot of potential for runners thanks to its interactions with the ECS. Before we jump into all that, it's important to discuss running in general. Running puts a lot of stress on the body. It’s a repetitive, weight-bearing exercise that forces you to work against gravity—so injuries are common. Most running injuries are linked to repetitive weight-based trauma to the knees, shins, and feet. If you often run without taking it slow, you're at higher risk for injuries such as the runner's knee, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, and shin splints.⁸
Yet there are still more benefits to running than not running.⁹ Running improves cardiovascular health and encourages stronger muscles, joints, and bones. One study also found that running can boost your overall life expectancy by reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease and other physical ailments.¹⁰ But more importantly, it's good for your mental health.¹¹ As we mentioned, the unique experience of a runner's high helps you remain mellow despite the pain—thanks to the release of endorphins and endocannabinoids running can trigger.
That's precisely where CBD fits into the picture. While there's limited research into the potential benefits of CBD, studies suggest that CBD's effect on the ECS can potentially help runners and athletes manage a variety of running-related stressors.
Pain & Inflammation
For starters, CBD may be a potent anti-inflammatory. As you run, your muscles begin to fatigue. This triggers an inflammation response in the body to protect them. You may also experience pain during your run—especially if you're an endurance athlete or do trail running, which can lead to added stress on the knees, shins, and joints. CBD may interact with the ECS to help reduce the pain and inflammatory responses that could prevent you from hitting a new personal best.¹²
Research has also indicated CBD could help with a speedy recovery by helping to reduce the inflammation and muscle soreness experienced a few hours after running.¹³ That decrease in inflammation might help repair your muscles more quickly—which enables you to get back to running as hard and fast as you'd like.
Sleep & Energy
Runners need rest. Any time you undergo so much intense physical stress, you need sleep for recovery, which is why it’s important to identify relaxation techniques for sleep.¹⁴ Sleep allows your muscle tissues to repair themselves so that you can take on the day ahead. It goes without saying, but rest is essential if you intend to have the energy to run the next day. Without sufficient sleep, you could experience reduced strength and limitations in the distance you can run.
And while CBD isn't a knockout drug that will put you to sleep, studies suggest that it may help you better manage common causes of insomnia—such as stress, anxiety, and pain.¹⁵ It could help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety—potentially quieting your thoughts enough to allow you to get some real rest. Products like CBD sleep capsules may help reduce some of the uncomfortable sensations related to chronic pain and inflammation from your workout, making falling asleep easier.
Mood & Motivation
While CBD won't cause you to catch a buzz, it may help with anxiety around exercise or lack of motivation. Nerves are a real mood killer—especially if you're just getting started with running. But evidence suggests the interactions between CBD and your ECS may encourage a boost in motivation and a reduction of anxiety—which may help you feel better about putting in the work and knocking that run out of the park.¹⁶⁻¹⁷ With that in mind, CBD could be helpful before a run to help ease into the right state of mind for dedicating time and energy to your exercise routine.
Furthermore, CBD may help the ECS trigger that runner's high during a workout in addition to helping manage the soreness that contributes to poor sleep (and ultimately a sour mood) when taken after a workout.¹⁸
Should You Take CBD Before or After Running?
Whether you are a professional athlete or conscious of your health and exercise, the best time to take CBD products depends on what beneficial effect you're looking for. CBD may actually be beneficial before, during, and after a run. Really, though, it all comes down to your personal preferences and intentions for using CBD. If you're interested in its potential to boost your mood and motivation, it makes the most sense to take it before your run.
Say you're interested in its potential for helping manage pain and inflammation—it likely would still make sense to take CBD before workout exercises to enjoy its therapeutic potential before and during your workout. Finally, if your main intention for using CBD is to recover faster, soothe any aches and pains from prior injuries that have healed, or potentially remediate poor sleep—you probably want to take it after your workout.
All in all, CBD truly has demonstrated great potential as a beneficial supplement within running regimens at any stage of your workout or recovery. Opting for CBD tinctures, gels, capsules, or gummies before a workout could give you just the push you need to push yourself. However, CBD topicals like creams, balms, oil, and lotions likely are best for recovering after the soreness and inflammation have already set in.
Which Form of CBD Is Best For Runners?
If you're ready to explore CBD as a supplement to support your running regimen, you’re in good hands with Lazarus Naturals.¹⁹As with any other supplement you'd take—from multivitamins to 100mg CBD softgels, CBD gummies, CBD edibles, or a pre-workout—it's essential to do your research and only choose high-quality, third-party tested CBD from a trusted source. Our entire line of effective CBD offerings has been tested (with the results for every product readily available on our site for inquiring customers) since we began in 2014. In a market where there seems to be a new brand born every day, finding established and trusted companies with nothing to hide is paramount. Quality doesn’t compromise—and Lazarus Naturals is committed to doing what’s best both for our loyal customers and the planet we share.