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How to Use CBD Oil for Runners: Pain Relief, Mood, Athletic Performance

CBD oil for runners isn’t just a sneaky way to use marijuana (I know you’re wondering about that!), it’s an effective tool for improving recovery which means better training and bigger results.

A few years ago, I started hearing whispers of ultrarunners crushing their uber long trail workouts thanks to the now legal Colorado trade of marijuana. I was intrigued, but not really sure how getting baked at 5AM to run before a full day of work was supposed to go.

Plus let’s be honest, I’m the girl who won’t even take a pain pill after knee surgery because I didn’t like feeling out of control. Marijuana was just not going to be part of my sports nutrition plan.

So I set that potential run enhancer aside and went about my training.

Which lead to A LOT of research and testing all kinds of pain relief methods. I was injecting platelets, trying energy medicine and giving my knee pep talks daily.

Eventually that research lead me right back to what those ultrarunners were sort of tapping in to…CBD, the won’t get you high, but gives you the benefits portion of marijuana. Hey, if you already know you want to try it, jump to the end to find out what product I’m loving.

What is CBD oil?

Cannabidiol oil is extracted from the hemp plant

In fact, our bodies produce certain cannabinoids already!

CB1 receptors: deal with mood, hunger, coordination and is affected by marijuana
CB2 receptors: deal with the immune system and pain.

CBD appears not to attach to either, but instead to encourage your body to use more of it’s own cannabinoids.

Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil: They aren’t the same.
Ok this can get confusing, so let’s try to break it down:

  • Both come from the hemp plant
  • Hemp oil is used in shampoos, lotions, etc for its high vitamin content
  • Hemp oil is extracted from large industrial plots cultivated to have low to no traces of CBD or THC
  • Hemp seeds contain no THC
  • Hemp oil is basically like coconut oil, you can cook with it or eat it
  • CBD is extracted from hemp grown specifically to be high in CBD
  • Cannabis is the same plant that creates hemp and marijuana, just different species

Will CBD make you high?

Nope, it’s nothing like that. You’re thinking of THC which is the active component of the leaf.

Now as you’ll see below some products do contain a very small trace amount of THC (.3%) in the pain relief cream because there is some research that you need the full source for maximum benefits. Kind of like not taking vitamin C alone, but rather eating the whole orange.

That minuscule dose will not give you the effect often discussed with edibles or smoking, where you will often find up to 30% THC.

In FACT, the results of CBD work on the same system that produces your very natural runner’s high!

Why is CBD for runners suddenly so popular?

I thought this was a fantastic question because it certainly seems like you heard about it a little and now there are tons of companies popping up. I think there are a few things happening:

  1. Success always encourages others to jump in to a market and it’s currently projected to be over 1 billion by 2020.
  2. Changing regulations are making it easier to sell these products even though CBD isn’t a banned substances.
  3. There are more studies now around it’s usage.
  4. Those changing laws are also making people more comfortable with these products
  5. It’s a non-addictive pain relief option, without some of the issues we know exist with others if taken before workouts

What are the benefits of CBD oil?

Now let’s dive in to the fun stuff, we know what CBD is and how to use it, but why? Why are so many athletes turning to this new tool and does it really work?

One 2016 study in arthritic rats, found that it significantly reduced joint swelling and pain ratings, without the side effects of other drugs! Nice.

Of course that’s just one study, but there are many more underway like using CBD to reduce anxiety without the high. Which is actually something that many consistent users often report. Knowing that there’s more work being done, I’m listing here the reported benefits from both brands and those who’ve tried it.

CBD Benefits

  • natural pain relief
  • reduced anxiety
  • improved sleep
  • potential to reduce inflammation of Type 1 diabetes
  • acne reduction
  • promotes heart health
  • promotes bone growth (healing stress fractures!)

How to use CBD oil?

Honestly, once I decided to dive in I was a little confused by the CBD sublingual drops, the creams, the lotions and the salves. What did I need, how much and when!

Let my confusion, which lead to research save you time!

  1. Consistency: This isn’t a use it one day and magically all things are better. You need to use it consistently for you to continue reducing inflammation or improving sleep, which then leads to all kinds of other good benefits.
  2. Sublingual drops (under the tongue) are great for helping to reduce total body inflammation, calming, mood, etc. When taking it sublingual, let it basically absorb in your mouth, don’t just swallow it.
  3. Creams are ideal for localized areas of pain.
  4. Lotions are an alternative to the sublingual drops as you can absorb the CBD through the skin.

CBD For shin splints?
Yes, it’s going to help lessen the inflammation and allow your muscles to relax. But then you have to do the work to recover from shin splints!

CBD for Plantar Fasciitis?
Yes, it can also help here with lowering inflammation. But again it’s not magic, you have to work on those foot muscles and do the plantar fasciitis exercises to fully resolve it.

When to take CBD Oil for runners?

1. Take it Nightly
Most people will take the sublingual drops a night to help them wind down and have a good night of sleep. We know that quality sleep is one of the key components to good health and workout recovery, so this can help with that while also working on inflammation.

2. Try it Pre-Workout
I started to wonder about pre-workout usage based on the original stories of ultra runners and their edibles. A little self testing and research lead me to find it can be a great option for prior to long runs as a way of getting in to a flow and

Now others might find it makes them too sleepy for a great workout and I wouldn’t use it before a speed session, but worth knowing so you can decide what’s best for you.

What do I recommend?

First a few things you need to know if you’re going to ignore my recommendation!

Buyer Beware
A 2017 study showed over 70% of CBD products are over or more commonly underlabled, meaning they don’t contain what you’re paying for! Again that’s why I’m excited to share Resilience CBD with you because they do a lot of testing to ensure product quality.

Additionally, it’s really important to all my fellow Amazon lovers to know what you see on Amazon isn’t CBD. It’s not allowed to be sold there, which means you’re buying hemp oil.

Look for Studies
The brand I recommend below is very open about all the studies they’ve done and you want this in any brand you choose. Of course I’m trying to save you that hassle by just sharing a great option!

Resilience CBD

Now, having tested out three different varieties of drops, a few different creams and salves over the last year, my ultimate choice is Resilience CBD. And if you’re ready to test it out use code AMANDA20 to get a 20% discount on your first order.

Let me tell you why it’s my personal choice.

Resilience CBD Oil Drops
For all over inflammation fighting, relaxation, taking sublingual drops is ideal. The way to get the most from them is to hold it in your mouth for 60 seconds where it essentially absorbs under your tongue. In the previous brands I tried, I needed to put it in and take a flavored drink to get past the taste, gag.

Not so with Resilience!

Also compared to the others, I noticed an actual difference when taking it. So much so that during a few days of super high stress, I took an extra dose during the day, which I never even pondered with the others.

If you want to ensure you are getting 0 THC (for a work drug test or anything else), opt for the Resilience Isolate, instead of the full spectrum drops.

**Update: I’ve had a number of private messages asking about the 300mg vs the 600mg. That’s just telling you the size of the bottle, it doesn’t change the potency. I’d say the 600mg lasts just over a month if you use 1 dropper full daily

Resilience CBD Sports Cream
Smelling like my 90 year-old grandmothers old nursing home isn’t high on my list of to do’s. BUT most pain relief creams have that odor due to menthol and the first CBD one I tried was intense. Like so intense I wouldn’t use it if I was leaving the house that day and needed to wash any clothing that touched my skin where I’d put it on my knee!

With Resilience Sport Cream, you notice the smell for about 2-3 minutes a max. Meaning it genuinely vanishes unlike some of the others that claim to. Maybe that doesn’t matter to you, but matters to me!!

Again, I also appreciate that they do test to prove exactly how much CBD is in their product. And this cream will last a very long time because you aren’t gooping it on.

As a reminder creams aren’t a cure all, but used in conjunction with all our other injury prevention techniques it helps.

Ordering Tips
Two tips for ordering! One is to use my code AMANDA20 for 20% off and the second is if you’re unsure, pair up with a friend. Here’s what I mean!

Resilience Give and Rise Project is all about reminding us all to come together to push each other to our best. After you’ve used the product for 30 days, they’ll give you the opportunity to give a friend a FREE product! What?!

Yup so why not buddy up, one of you try it first then the other…I mean you’ll both be convinced you need it forever after 30 days, but this feels like an easy way to start!

My Experience with CBD Oil

All right, I’ve told you the basics of why I like these specific products, but I also want to talk about what I noticed from using them consistently.

The products arrived during a particularly stressful period for me and I found after using it for a few nights, I also opted to take a half dose of the drops early in the day and used the cream consistently on my knee.

  1. I had my longest run by 2 miles since my knee injury started in 2016 (I took .5 CBD before the run)
  2. I finished that 15 miles without knee pain
  3. I proceed the rest of that week to continue having not just good runs, but faster and better feeling
  4. We went through the time change and I found myself adjusting more easily
  5. I’d been having some knee pain post shorter runs and that is continuing to diminish again
  6. The skin issues that had suddenly started in my late 30’s are absolutely better

This is just what I found within the first month of using the product, so I’m quite excited to make Resilience CBD a standard part of my training leading up to my next race!!

My only complaint is that now I want travel sizes from them because I know these are must have’s around race day and when traveling! And auto-refill seems like a must!

Have you tried CBD?

Any questions left unanswered?

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This post is sponsored by Resilience CBD, but all opinions and testing results are my own.

I'm skeptical about anything that receives this much hype. But I did my research, I tested it myself and here's how to use CBD oil for real results.

Is CBD Trail Running’s Wonder Drug?

As social stigma dissipates, age groupers and pros are turning to yet-unregulated CBD oil to manage pain, inflammation, anxiety and sleep.

Brian Metzler May 6th, 2020

Scott Gold loves the grind and exhilaration of long technical trail runs as much as anyone. The challenge of running over rocks, roots and ridges provides an ideal blend of physical and mental stimulation as well as peacefulness.

The 31-year-old software-service manager from Boulder, Colorado, has logged his share of early morning jaunts before work, long mountain runs on the weekends and trail races from 26 miles to 100K in recent years. But he also knows what it feels like a day or so after those kinds of runs. Aside from minor aches and soreness, he also often feels tired and generally fatigued and that can lead to stress and anxiety.

A few years ago, he discovered cannabidiol, or CBD oil—a non-intoxicating plant-based substance derived from cannabis plants—and now he ingests it on a daily basis. Yes, those are similar plants from which intoxicating marijuana is derived, but don’t jump to conclusions that Gold is some kind recreational doper. It’s not about getting high.

Breaking Down CBD

While marijuana and THC-derived supplements produce a wide range of psychoactive effects, CBD does not. For a growing number of trail runners, CBD is a natural alternative to ibuprofen, naproxen and a range of opioid painkillers, while for others it’s a sleep aid or recovery supplement. For Gold, it’s mostly about recovery and reduced anxiety.

For a growing number of trail runners, CBD is a natural alternative to ibuprofen, naproxen and a range of opioid painkillers, while for others it’s a sleep aid or recovery supplement.

Gold, who ingests CBD supplements most evenings, says, “It’s hard to tell how it really works, but for me the bottom line is that I feel more refreshed the next day, and I feel pretty rotten if I don’t take it.”

That’s a common reaction among growing number of professional and recreational trail runners who use CBD supplements. The increased prevalence and acceptance of CBD for medicinal uses can be partially attributed to the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized industrial hemp and declassified it as a Schedule 1 drug.

Although THC is fully legal as a recreational drug in only 11 states and Washington D.C. as of spring 2020, CBD is legal (in some form or another) in all 50 states. CBD enhanced with THC is only legal in pot-legal states.

It’s important to note that CBD products sold in the U.S. fall into one of two categories. CBD isolate contains only CBD without any other cannabinoids; full-spectrum CBD oil retains THC and other cannabinoids. In either form, it can be consumed in several different ways, including chewable gummy tablets, ingestible capsules and food products, powdered recovery drinks, tinctures, topical creams and balms or via vaporizing. Dosage might range from 10mg to 25mg, depending on the individual and symptoms.

Overcoming the Stigma

As medicinal CBD has separated from the hazy social stigma of recreational pot, it has gone from a largely misunderstood substance originally tied to the legalized marijuana trade to somewhat of a modern wonder drug and a natural panacea for soreness, pain, anxiety, depression and inconsistent sleep—even though there is little research to support any CBD health claims, given that it’s only become fully legal within the past year.

Pro trail runner Hillary Allen started using CBD to treat pain and inflammation after suffering major injuries during a fall in a technical trail race in Tromsø, Norway, two years ago. After tripping and falling near the halfway mark of the 50K race, she tumbled more than 150 feet over rocks and scree, suffering two broken ribs, a couple of fractures in her back, a ruptured ligament in her foot and two broken wrists, not to mention numerous lacerations, scrapes and deep bruises. In the weeks and months that followed, she was in constant pain.

Allen, who has a master’s degree in neuroscience, was already aware of the positive effects CBD can have on overactive nerves, but she was drawn to topical ointments and creams to treat localized pain and inflammation during her recovery. Because it’s legal in Colorado, she also uses CBD that contains trace amounts of THC as a sleep aid.

“When I was recovering, I used CBD as often as I needed it—which was every day and sometimes multiple times a day,” says Allen. “I’d always rub it on my foot to sooth it for sleeping and then I started taking an oral supplement more for a sleep aid when I was having trouble sleeping. With a broken back, I took all the help I could get.”

Is It Competition-Legal?

Although THC is legal in 11 states, it remains on the WADA/USADA banned substance list, meaning athletes can be suspended if it comes up in a drug test. However, CBD was removed from the list in January 2019 and is no longer prohibited. Still, both continue to carry a bit of a lingering stigma.

That’s something that Joanna Zeiger, Ph.D., is trying to help eliminate. A former professional triathlete who competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials for both triathlon and the marathon, Zeiger started using CBD and combinations of CBD and THC after she retired to manage chronic pain and discovered that she wasn’t alone.

Joanna Zeiger, Ph.D. founded the Canna Research Group in Boulder, Colorado, last year and conducted the Athlete PEACE Survey to understand CBD and THC use among adult athletes. The biggest takeaway was that 61 percent of athletes polled were using some sort of CBD—either with or without THC—to successfully manage pain.

She founded the Canna Research Group in Boulder, Colorado, last year and conducted the Athlete PEACE Survey to understand CBD and THC use among adult athletes. The biggest takeaway was that 61 percent of athletes polled were using some sort of CBD—either with or without THC—to successfully manage pain. There were also some adverse effects reported—including difficulty concentrating and increased appetite—but the good far outweighed the bad, Zeiger says.

“A lot of athletes are turning to it for pain management, improved sleep and decreased anxiety,” she says. “With CBD being legalized, it’s become a dip-your-toe-in-the-water experiment for people who are still feeling the stigma of THC but are canna-curious.”

It’s Still the Wild, Wild West

The biggest challenge is that the CBD industry is still in the wild, wild west of its evolution, partially because the absence of federal regulation. In late May 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration held a public hearing to allow stakeholders in the CBD world to share their experiences and challenges with products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds to begin a regulatory strategy.

While there are many reputable brands such as iKOR Labs, Charlotte’s Web, Floyd’s of Leadville, cbdMD, NuLeaf Naturals, Spruce, CBDistillery and Myaderm, among others, that are willing to share all of their manufacturing information, there are plenty of shady brands too. So buyer beware, Zeiger says.

Some CBD products can contain contaminants because cannabis plants can absorb heavy metals, pesticides and other harmful chemicals found in the soil or water. Until the FDA comes out with regulations, CBD and the companies that sell it are largely unchecked when it comes to manufacturing, labeling, claims and dosage.

Treat the Root Cause First

Dr. Lara Johnson, a Boulder-based physical therapist, is aware of the positive effect CBD products can have for an athlete, but she recommends treating the root cause of the pain or soreness first and foremost. CBD might be helpful, but it also might be similar to using kinesiology tape, custom insoles or even engaging in an improper training or strengthening program, she says, in that it’s not really going to heal the problem or fix it.

“People might think it’s a wonder drug, but I tend to think most drugs aren’t wonderful, in general, because they tend to mask what’s really going on,” Johnson says. “Our bodies are very intelligent and when they tell us about pain or soreness, it’s an indication about some bigger things that might need addressing. If CBD is helping with pain management and recovery, that’s a good thing. But it’s not going to be dealing with the root cause of biomechanics or nerve function or other things that might be causing the pain or soreness.”

People might think it’s a wonder drug, but I tend to think most drugs aren’t wonderful, in general, because they tend to mask what’s really going on,” Johnson says. “Our bodies are very intelligent and when they tell us about pain or soreness, it’s an indication about some bigger things that might need addressing.

In the meantime, the product offerings from CBD brands continues to evolve with trail runners in mind. For example, iKOR Labs released its Recovery Shot in early June at the Ragnar Trail relay event in Snowmass, Colorado. The all-natural, two-ounce drink formula includes tart cherry juice, turmeric, ginger root, black pepper, plus 22 milligrams of full-spectrum hemp extract and 13 milligrams of CBD per serving and a proprietary blend of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant extracts.

“Yeah, it’s still the wild west and a buyer’s beware market because there are clearly a lot of brands trying to make a quick buck out there,” says Jon Robichaud, vice president of marketing for iKOR Labs. “For us, it’s really about education and the people behind the product, as much as the product itself. Our intent is to become a thought leader so we can rise above the part of the industry that is just white-labeling products and selling them vs. putting thought behind what an individual really needs and how it can affect them on a daily basis.”

As for Gold, he says he keeps up on research and news about CBD and continues to adjust what’s best for him, lately preferring Stillwater Brands’ Ripple drink mix with a 20/1 CBD/THC ratio and Extract Lab gummies with a 10/1 ratio.

“You kind of have to experiment a bit to figure out what works for you,” he says. “If you get the right combo, you can really feel your body relax and that’s when the pain management begins.”

Tips on Using CBD

OK, so you’re interested in trying cannabidiol, or CBD oil, to manage pain, inflammation, sleep or general recovery. But how do you get started?

As with any industry, not all products are created equally. There are high-quality products and low-quality products and just about everything in between, says Aaron Cadena, editor of CBD Origin.com, an online education, news and resource site about cannabidiol. Until the FDA begins regulating CBD, the most important keys are awareness and education.

Cadena says the critical factor in your purchasing process is making sure you’re buying CBD products from a company that insists on third-party testing from a reputable lab that provides a valid Certificate of Analysis report. That will allow you to make sure the cannabinoid content listing on the product’s label is consistent with what is listed in the product’s lab report, that the product is free from harmful contaminants and contains less than 0.3 percent THC—both for legal reasons and to avoid unwanted side effects.

Knowing where was the hemp sourced, how was it cultivated and what kind of CBD you’re buying is also important, as is understanding the dosages in each product, whether it’s a gel capsule, gummy, drink mix or tincture.

When in doubt, ask more questions and do some digging for answers. Does the company have a good reputation? What other ingredients are included in the product? Are the ingredients natural and organic? Is it fairly priced?

Is CBD Trail Running’s Wonder Drug? As social stigma dissipates, age groupers and pros are turning to yet-unregulated CBD oil to manage pain, inflammation, anxiety and sleep. Brian Metzler May ]]>