Recreational and elite athletes consume cannabis for their workouts to reduce the pain of sore muscles and to improve their sleep.
This Sunday, Nov. 7, marks the 50th running of the New York City Marathon, the largest in the world. Some 33,000 runners from around the nation and around the globe will step off in waves from various spots around the city at 8:00 am EST. Though the number of participants this year was limited to nearly half due to COVID-19 restrictions, the race is especially meaningful after the 2020 cancellation when New York City was under lockdown and, at one tragic point, there were nearly 800 COVID-related deaths per day.
Kerin Hempel, chief executive of the New York Road Runners, the organization that operates the marathon, said this marathon brings back a sense of normalcy to the city, which is ready to welcome tourists, and their dollars, back to the Big Apple.
As the national economy begins to recover from the pandemic, New York City is among the slowest to come back, having suffered deeper job losses than any other big city in the country. A report from the Center for New York City Affairs noted that while the city received $272 billion in Federal COVID-19 relief, most benefits have run out and New York still has a deficit of more than 500,000 jobs.
Though there is one industry that’s doing well…actually, extremely well.
Cannabis: The Race Is On
The 10 largest cannabis companies in New York state — all but two of which are publicly traded — function as part of the state’s medical-marijuana program. This gives them a significant head start on what is shaping up to be a multi-billion dollar industry for the Empire State after adult-use cannabis was signed into law last March.
Weed And Running: What’s The Connection?
When Sha’Carri Richardson was denied a spot at the Tokyo Olympics last summer after testing positive for cannabis, a debate was ignited among athletes, experts, advocates and lawmakers about whether weed was a performance enhancement. The consensus was no, it is not.
Dr. Peter Grinspoon, Harvard Medical School instructor and cannabis expert, confirmed to Benzinga at the time that there are no studies that show marijuana as a performance enhancer, which is why more and more professional sports teams are no longer testing for it.
So, what does weed do for athletes?
Quite a lot according to Josiah Hesse, author of the “Runner’s High,” in which he explores what he calls the “hidden culture” of cannabis use among recreational and elite athletes who consume it for their workouts, to reduce the pain of sore muscles and to improve their sleep. Though, the most common response from athletes was that it helped calm their nerves and alleviate anxiety.
Rosie Mattio, a dedicated bodybuilder who is running in Sunday’s marathon, concurred. “Cannabis was an integral part in me placing 1st in my first bodybuilding competition,” said Mattio, CEO and founder of MATTIO Communications, one of the first and longest-running cannabis PR firms in the space.
“The stress and inflammation associated with a grueling competition prep would have been unmanageable without using cannabis for my rest and recovery. I often took an Incredibles Snoozeberry gummy to help me sleep at night,” Mattio told Benzinga, adding that sleep is crucial for muscle building and recovery.
An award-winning bodybuilder and the mother of four daughters, Mattio said she was forced to cut calories to stay lean for competitions, “so going out for high-calorie cocktails just was not an option for me.”
So she traded cocktails for cannabis and is now bulking up to run in her first marathon. “I’m packing some carbs, too. PB & J before I start. I can’t run hungry!” Mattio laughed.
To watch the New York Marathon, whose rally cry is “A half-century of history is just the start,” check out the NY Road Runners website.