Marijuana and running have more in common than you might think. Before you throw up your arms in horror and disgust at the idea hear me out. At different points in my life I have been a big fan of both, and I know I’m not the only person like that. So the question I asked myself while sitting in the tub after a long slow run the other night is why? Why do people I know seem to have dope and running in common? What exactly are the similarities between the 2 habits? So I made a list.
The first time you try it, it ain‘t that great.
For me at least this is true for both. I had taken a few tokes on shitty homegrown weed at parties before I was 16, but the first time I got properly stoned was after a theatre trip with some friends who were a couple of years older. What I remember most about the experience was the vague paranoia and queasy sensation, coupled with an ego satisfying notion that I had somehow been let into a cosmic secret. Although I couldn’t claim the experience was nice, in fact many aspects of it were downright unpleasant and verging on the terrifying, I kind of knew something had changed. I had crossed the line and become a dopehead. Something that I remained for maybe 20 years.
In the same way, I thought my first run was going to lead to hospitalisation, a few 100 metres was all I could manage before I had to walk or die. By the time I got to the end of that first run walk something in my head had changed and I had become a runner, even if I didn’t know it at the time. The simple act of continuing and not simply turning round and going home had changed me forever. It took a good few weeks before I actually started to enjoy the occasional run, and even longer before I understood the pure joy of a long slow run with friends. Yup, it’s quite true, for a while after I started I thought running was a bit shit on occasion, and sometimes still do.
OK before my 420 mates round upon me and point out that there is nothing physically addictive about marijuana, this is not what I am saying. You are quite right, as far as I know there is nothing physically addictive about either running or smoking weed. I would say though that as someone who probably has an addictive personality both can be psychologically addictive. Once upon a time a lot of my thinking and lifestyle revolved around either smoking or scoring, now it revolves around running. It used to be that if there was a dope drought I would get twitchy and start calculating how I could spin my stash out. I was a firm believer in Freewheelin Franklin’s wisdom “Dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope”. I’d get the ache with people unnecessarily and generally would be more of a pain in the arse than usual. I get similar withdrawal symptoms when I am injured and unable to get out and train. Not running makes me grumpy and twitchy. I am not sure there is an equivalent to Freewheelin Franklin in the running world, but if there is his catch phrase would be something like “Running will get you through times of leisure better than leisure will get you through times of no running”.
There is a whole lifestyle around it
When I was a big smoker almost everybody I knew toked. I still know a few now but they really are in the minority, most people I know now are runners. At gatherings I can sniff the runners out, the Garmin watch, the event T-shirt and old Saucony trainers, the odd phrase here and there gives it away. There is a whole running lifestyle and language that you tend to drift into the longer that you keep going. The same is true for Stoners. Music, clothes and language can all make them identifiable to each other, so at social occasions they can nip out the back for half an hour for a quick spliff. How simple that seems, what a delight it would be to slip away from a family gathering with a few like minded individuals and nip off for a quick 5k. If only it were that easy.
There is a lot of overpriced tat you can buy for both hobbies
Of course none of this mentions the paraphernalia that accompanies these 2 activities. With smoking there are all kinds of elaborate bongs and papers, rolling machines, dope tins, pipes, weed grinders, not to mention all the kit you can get if you decide to grow your own. A lot of running stuff tends to revolve around what you wear. Trainers being top of the list, then there are, base layers, runderwear, watches, tags, water bottles, belts, headphones, it goes on. Both of these activities have whole industries which cater to them.
There you have it, both running and smoking dope appeal in part to the same obsessive and addictive personality types (probably). Certainly in my case they do, one has replaced the other and in my tub based musings the other night I came to this quite satisfying conclusion. If it took 20 years for me to get a little jaded with the whole stoner identity I guess I still have another 17 years or so left to be a runner in. By that time I will have gone up a couple of age grades and I may actually have started to be considered almost OK at this running lark.