Happy man running on a mountain trail

Five years after How to Run Stoned- cannabis and ultrarunning are things people talk about, now

Before March 2015, I had been pretty secretive about my cannabis use. Even after moving to California, where it was legal for medical use at the time, I didn’t want my family or employers to know. But that all changed the day Outside Magazine published my first online article, How to Run Stoned.

The whole experience was so thrilling, I still get a goosebump or three thinking about it.

Between this being my first publication outside the local newspaper (and my blog) and the fact that I was announcing my support for cannabis in a very public way, I was a bundle of nerves.

I didn’t know what I was doing as a writer. I didn’t know how the world would respond to the content.

To give you an idea of just how new I was to the world of freelance writing – I didn’t get paid for this piece until six months after it ran, not because Outside is stingy, but because I didn’t know I was supposed to submit an invoice!

Fortunately, the feedback I got from How to Run Stoned was 100% positive. To be honest, I was surprised by the amount of support I got.

At the time, writing about using cannabis while running seemed like a great risk. But it also felt like something I had to do.

I still remember the day this idea struck me. I was drinking my morning coffee and reading the news when an article in the Wall Street Journal caught my eye.

This article quotes one of my all-time sheroes, Jenn Shelton, who would become my running coach a couple years down the road.

Me and Jenn Shelton's photocopied face
The only photo I have of Jenn and me together is this photocopy of her face, which she used to write a Buddhist quote on the backside.

There’s something about Jenn that really drives me to take action. More than an inspiration, she moves me to take some of the craziest and most rewarding risks of my life.

And so I let this spark of an idea take hold of me. I immediately sent a text to my friend Matt, who was a travel editor at Outside at the time. He let me know this wouldn’t fit in his department, but urged me to email the fitness editor about it.

In the weeks that passed between the moment I sent that text and the article going live, I was a hot mess. We’re talking heart palpitations, insomnia, nausea, sweating and trembling, and basically preparing for my whole world to end at any minute.

I didn’t even tell anyone about it until it was published.

Thankfully, my world didn’t end. It did, however, expand quite a bit. I had opened up about something a lot of people seemed to relate to but no one else wanted to talk about. Women’s Running reached out to interview me. Burgeoning cannabusinesses sent me free goodies. Life was groovy.

And now, in 2020, it’s not hard to find an athlete willing to speak freely about the benefits of cannabis.

There’s even a whole fitness event series based around cannabis culture

Cannabis isn’t the only part of my life that’s hit the mainstream. Just a few weeks ago, The New York Times published an amazing feature on ultrarunner Jim Walmsley.

Not that I expect ultrarunning to gain major recognition anytime, soon — when I tell people I’m a runner, many still assume I circle a track in bunhuggers for a few miles — but the sport has definitely shed its obscurity.

Or maybe I just exist in a bubble.

Either way, it’s fun to look back and see how things have changed in five years. I’m grateful to have been a small part of it. I’m grateful for the cannabis community and every person who makes an effort to destigmatize this powerful, yet gentle, medicine.

I think it’s really important to talk about the things that have shaped your life, even if you’re not sure how people are going to take it. It’s scary to put yourself out there. But chances are, there’s a whole community of people out there who can totally relate.

I love my community. Thank you for reading!


*cover photo courtesy of Outside Online

3 thoughts on “Five years after How to Run Stoned- cannabis and ultrarunning are things people talk about, now

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