Clifford Drusinsky is a 39-year-old triathlete based in Denver, Colorado. When he’s not taking the podium in grueling competitive triathlons, he is pushing his protégés to new levels of fitness and endurance at his Denver-based gym, F.I.T.S. Conditioning. Like many other gyms in America, Clifford offers guidance in everything from training to diet, but he is a proponent for something you might not expect your trainer to recommend, marijuana.
One of Drusinksy’s clients, Chad White says, “If I take a little bit before heavy training, I am totally dialed in.” Similarly, Drusinksy uses cannabis as part of his training regimen during early morning, several hour endurance workouts. Rather than munching on a Power Bar, Clifford ops for a weed-infused energy bar containing 20mg of THC. Drusinsky says that when the marijuana infused energy bar kicks in he trains much smarter and spends more time focusing on his form.
Drusinsky has found success in his cannabis-infused training regimen. His training landed him on the podium in 9 major races during 2013 alone, including a first place victory the South Beach Triathlon in Miami, Florida.
Cannabis has a realm of benefits that can help athletes, especially endurance athletes. First off, it great for joint pain and relieving achy muscles after long workouts. A quick look at Drusinksy’s Facebook page shows several cannabis-infused topical ointments that are used for aches and pains.
Marijuana is also useful for decreasing nausea, which is extremely helpful to distance athletes who sometimes suffer from stomach cramps and nausea during lengthy workouts. A McGill University Professor and Executive Director of Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids says that marijuana may help some athletes get into a zone and put their bodies through very tough physical activity, especially with repetitive tasks.
So Is It Really A Performance Enhancing Drug?
This is still up for debate. Because of marijuana’s federal classification as a Schedule 1 Drug, (meaning it has no medicinal value) research on the plant has been limited up to now. What we do know is that the cannabis plant is packed full of cannabanoids, the one you’re probably most familiar with is THC. There are 85 known cannabanoids in the cannabis plant, many of them similar to endocannabinoids that naturally occur in your body.
Just as the naturally occurring endocannabinoids regulate pain and appetite in your own body, cannabis can bind to the same receptors to alter the effects of pain, mood, appetite, and memory. This means that consuming cannabis could help to disassociate pain in many of the the same ways that your body naturally does, perhaps giving a competitive edge.
The science is still shotty for cannabis, especially in relation to the field of competitive sports. Even with it’s pain relieving properties, marijuana use is not likely to work for every athlete. For Drusinksy, marijuana helps him to relax his mind and enjoy his daily workouts more. After all, three hour workouts could certainly become boring quickly.
Your best bet? Try a low dose of a healthy marijuana edible like an infused granola bar before your workout. If you’re new to cannabis use and are looking to boost your workouts, make sure to study up before you add mary jane to your workouts.
This post was originally published on January 26, 2015, it was updated on October 5, 2017.