CBD can make you a better runner, no matter your fitness level. Here’s how Cannabis is increasingly being adopted for its medicinal value and a growing number of runners use cannabidiol, or ‘CBD’ – a non-psychoactive and legal compound found in the plant – for a range of reasons. Read on why you should be adding it to your regimen. • Improves sleep • Reduces inflammation • Promotes muscle relaxation • Helps relieve pain • Helps reduce stress • Improves sleep For you the runner, getting enough quality sleep is as vitally important as your training and nutrition. Not getting enough can not only negatively effect your training, but will impair concentration at work and influence your mood. Examples of the use of cannabis products for medicinal and sleep aid purposes have been found dating back as far as 4000 BC, listed in the earliest Chinese Pharmacopoeia. There are also archeological studies which show the plant may have been used as anaesthetic (among other things) in Eastern Europe. The body of scientific research on just how CBD improves sleep is growing. Those studies and anecdotal evidence suggests there are various reasons. “CBD acts on receptors throughout the body known as the endocannabinoid system,” says Tony Budden, co-founder of Hemporium and long-time cannabis activist, explaining that this system directly influences (among others) the circadian rhythm - the body’s 24-hour cycle of physiological processes. In addition to helping regulate sleep patterns through the circadian rhythm, CBD has been shown to help alleviate anxiety and regulate cortisol (a stress hormone) which can have a significant impact on sleep cycles. 2. Reduces inflammation CBD can help speed up post race and training recovery by relieving inflammation. According to study published in 2010 ‘cannabinoids are potent anti-inflammatory agents and they exert their effects through induction of apoptosis, inhibition of cell proliferation, suppression of cytokine production and induction of T-regulatory cells.’ “In addition, CBD can also help alleviate the stiffness and potential muscle damage from a long run effort and plays a role in helping the body repair itself,” says Budden. 3. Muscle relaxation In addition to treating bouts of inflammation, CBD can also aid in helping you avoid longer term muscle and joint injury. Studies have shown that compound has powerful muscle relaxation properties through the GABA system (the nervous system’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter). Low levels of GABA have been linked to muscle cramps among other things. 4. Muscle Pain As Budden mentioned earlier, CBD can be used to treat injury pain, both topically and internally. It works as a natural pain killer without ‘blocking’ the body from healing an injured part, as regular pain killers might. A study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine supports this: “Certain types of non-psychoactive cannabinoids can potentiate glycine receptors (GlyRs), an important target for nociceptive regulation at the spinal level. We report that systemic and intrathecal administration of cannabidiol (CBD), a major non-psychoactive component of marijuana, and its modified derivatives significantly suppress chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain without causing apparent analgesic tolerance,” reads the study. 5. Helps reduce stress CBD is perhaps best documented for its positive impacts on anxiety and depression. In 2015, a broad reaching analysis of various earlier studies showed that ‘CBD is a promising treatment for numerous forms of anxiety, including social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress.’ Runners, whether pro or amateur, could benefit too. Anxiety from the pressure to perform in training and competition can present a big challenges and often negatively effect performance. By staying relaxed and focused and getting enough rest you can make the most of your training and racing. Research suggest that consistent daily supplementation of around 10-20 milligrams might help you do this.