For most people the connection between athleticism and cannabis use is essentially non-existent. In fact, most of the time cannabis use is brought up, there’s a stigma attached to it pertaining to laziness.
Avery Collins is trying to disassociate that stigma and instead, prove productivity and athleticism are possible with cannabis use.
“What works for me is not going to work for everyone,” Collins said. “But I do think that most people can find a newfound joy of being high and athletic.”
Collins is an ultra marathoner who often run, climbs and hikes anywhere from 50 to 100+ miles a race. Running these extensive distances is no easy task, and for Collins, it took him just over three years to go from casual neighborhood jogger to ultra marathoner. Though, he only started running because he no longer had a gym membership and still wanted to stay in shape.
“It’s hard to believe now, but three and a half years ago I ran a mile and a half to the end of the neighborhood and had to sit down for about 10 minutes because I was out of breath and fatigued,” Collins said. “It was tough.”
He didn’t even like running initially, it was just something he forced himself to do more and more each week.
“I didn’t really truly enjoy running for what it was for the first two, maybe three months,” Collins said. “Then it became this addiction and I really just had to do it for the day to feel complete. It became a passion after six months.”
“That’s what I tell people who are just getting into running, you have to get over the runner’s hump,” he added.
From there, he started competing in half-marathons. Nine months into his newfound passion, he decided to try out his first marathon, the Blue Ridge Marathon in Virginia – which just so happened to be a double marathon.
It wasn’t until a year after getting into running when Collins decided to experiment with cannabis use. He remembers the day vividly as if it was just yesterday he was back in Fort Wayne.
“I moved from North Carolina back to Northern Indiana and I was living with one of my good friends who had an apartment. At the time, I was training a lot for the (ultra marathon) and was full swing into it,” Collins said. “We were sitting on the couch one night and he said, ‘have you ever thought about getting high before a run?’”
While it had never crossed his mind before, Collins was intrigued by the thought of it and decided to give it a shot the next day.
“I got pretty high…and went to one of my favorite parks to run, it’s called Franke Park, and they have a 10-mile loop,” Collins said. “I just remember it being really, really enjoyable. Everything was just awakened spiritually and I had a better feel for the ground and the roots and everything around me.”
“It just makes it a much more spiritual run.”
Now, Collins is a full-fledged ultra marathoner. Not only that, but he’s thriving behind the use of edibles and compounds. In the past two years he’s set five separate course records across the country in four 100K’s and one 200K, in addition to winning 10 races.
With his success in the ultra marathoning world behind the use of cannabis-related products, Collins wants to change the stigma associated with it and use himself as a testament to its benefits. He’s created a GoFundMe page to do just that.
“It’s a way for me to continue to inspire through athletics that also involve cannabis. For this to work right, for me to change the stigma and take the negative connotation away, I have to be an athlete first and a cannabis user second,” Collins said.
“Say I was someone finishing in the middle of the pack to close to last and I’m out here trying to be an advocate of cannabis use, people can say it obviously isn’t doing too great for him,” he said. “But, if you have someone who is finding a lot of success in the running world everywhere from the 50-mile to the 200-mile distance, I think it’s has a lot more validity and it’s going to look better. People are going to say, ‘wow, this might just work.’”
Collins wants to travel the country, run more races, visit dispensaries and get himself out there more to really show the world that it is possible to use cannabis on a regular basis and be a successful athlete in an extremely demanding sport. He wants to get the message across that you can live life without limits.
He even offers some tips of advice for those interested in it.
“One of the biggest things I can tell people, especially if you’re using edibles, is you have to find out how much you can and cannot handle before you even hit the gym or tun because there is such a fine line there,” Collins said. “It’s just a way to get in the zone.”
“One really important thing I always tell people is to take the edible 10 to 15 minutes before you are getting ready to head out of the door so that the edible is kicking in while you’re running as opposed to kicking in before you run, that way if you do have a tendency of becoming lazy when you get high, you’re already out doing it and I think that helps tremendously,” he added.
With Collins’ success in ultra marathons showing no signs of letting up, he may very well become the poster boy for cannabis and athleticism. Only then will he truly be able to change the stigma.
Editor’s Note: We’d like to thank the Roll-Uh-Bowl team for introducing us to this impressive advocate for legalization!
This post was originally published on December 11, 2015, it was updated on March 15, 2017.