When it comes to pushing the human body beyond its physical and mental limits, Avery Collins might be a wizard masquerading as an early-twenties endurance athlete. In the last three years alone, Avery has competed in over thirty (yes, thirty) ultramarathons and finished in first place or near the top in nearly every single one.
And here’s the kicker – he is one of the first professional athletes to do it while landing big-time sponsorships from the cannabis industry, including the popular edibles brand Incredibles, Mary’s Medicinals and Roll-uh-Bowl. CEO and Founder of Incredibles, Rick Scarpello, describes the relationship with Collins as a “match made in heaven.”
“Cannabis is a great tool for training and working out. Avery is tops in his sport and a pleasure to work with,”
For those of you unfamiliar with ultramarathons, imagine running the typical marathon distance of 26.2 miles and then instead of collecting your sticker and going home after reaching the finish line, you decide to keep on running – for miles, hours or even days. Some events stretch out for over 200 miles and even up to 1,000.
For me, it’s hard to even picture driving those distances, let alone using nothing but your own two legs (and a lot of energy bars, I would assume) and sheer will power.
But for 23-year-old professional ultramarathoner Avery Collins, 200 miles in a single race was enough to separate him from the pack by over 5 hours to win the mind-blowing Colorado 200 last year; a race so difficult and so physically and mentally demanding that at one point he actually hallucinated celebrities waving to him from imaginary billboards littering the singletrack mountainside trail.
Avery admits that although he never uses cannabis during a competition, marijuana has become an essential part of his workouts and training for those grueling multi-day races and post-competition recoveries:
“Definitely edibles a couple times per day. Usually some in the morning, some before the run, (and) at night A LOT because I find that going to bed high, I wake up very much refreshed.”
For edibles, Avery’s go-to products are the 500mg “Mile Higher” mint bar and “Mikiba” nutrition bar from Incredibles. Like all athletes that know their limits, he recommends starting off with a low dose (around 5mg of THC) and gradually upping the amount after giving it some time to kick in while on a run and letting your body adjust before ingesting more.
Collins holding a Mary’s Medicinals topical cream, infused with cannabinoids like CBC, CBDA and THCA, intended to relieve muscle soreness, pain and inflammation.
Over the years, cannabis has become a regular part of Avery’s athletic routine for many reasons. First, he claims that taking edibles before a run is fantastic for longer training days when the mind needs something to focus on in order to alleviate the boredom and help keep the legs moving forward. On top of that, it’s also a highly effective pain killer. After training nearly every day with 30+ mile runs in order to prepare for ultramarathons like last year’s Fat Dog 120 and most recently the Ultra Fiord in Patagonia, Chile (which he attempted while being deathly sick), Avery uses a combination of edibles and topical ointments to help alleviate the pain and fatigue his legs and body undoubtedly endure.
Before speaking with Avery, I had always assumed that most athletes would simply dismiss smoking marijuana because of health or lung performance reasons. I was pleasantly surprised by the answer I received when I asked Avery whether he prefers to smoke or take edibles before a run:
“I enjoy smoking prior to running just because it’s more of a head high and the body is still very much able, whereas the edibles – I get a much stronger body high. It’s a little bit harder to run with edibles.”
Despite Avery’s resounding success in the world of ultramarathon running, he is looking forward to a future full of blazing new paths in other endurance sports. “Honestly, I’m looking forward to doing other endurance sports. I’ve always told this to my parents, but I always tell them that I’m not a runner, I’m an athlete. I’ll never be just a runner and I don’t want that one page to define my life. I plan on in the future really branching out. Maybe something like cross-country or split-board racing. I don’t even know if it exists yet, but if it does, I’m totally in it next winter.”
For a driven young endurance athlete like Avery, the sky is truly the limit, and he’s teaching others to follow their dreams and embrace the positive medicinal uses of cannabis in ultra-endurance sports. Referring to CBD topicals that you rub on sore muscles, Avery tells me that “you don’t have to get high to enjoy the benefits of cannabis in athletics. But at the same time, it is pretty awesome to go for a run when you’re high.”
I suppose there’s only one way to find out.
Photos courtesy of Avery Collins.
This post was originally published on May 5, 2016, it was updated on October 5, 2017.