Every week, Flavie Dokken goes for a couple of runs that last up to six hours each. The endurance athlete, a United States Army veteran and former bodybuilder, is now an ultramarathoner who plans to compete in multiple 50K and 100K races this year after winning last year’s 10K Rattler Trail Race in Colorado Springs and finishing February’s Mad Moose Pueblo Half Marathon with a 6:50 pace.
But even Dokken, 36, admits that for those in the last hour or two of those long runs, “you’re in pain.” To help push through those moments during training and help with her recovery afterward, Dokken turns to cannabis and CBD products.
Dokken’s success with using cannabis for recovery as an athlete and its medical benefits as an injured veteran is the reason she's partnering with Wana Brands, a Boulder-based edibles company, to promote cannabis as an asset for athletes. “I definitely want to help out the cause” and raise awareness, she explains. “Because, you know, I do partake in it, and I see the benefits. ... It’s unfortunate to have to be hush-hush about it all the time.”
Dokken, a native of the French Alps, is open about her cannabis consumption because of the benefits she’s seen from using it in her life — as an athlete, to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder from her service in the Army, and to treat her injuries in physical therapy.
While she has seen the stigma around cannabis start to fade over the past decade, some of it still hangs over the athletic community. Even as “cannafitness” becomes a hot new market and CBD is removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited-substances list, Dokken says many athletes still keep their use underground.
"Some brands are not cannabis-friendly,” she explains, so if you’re an athlete hoping for a sponsorship, you don’t want to blow your chances by posting CBD gummies on Instagram. “In the sports world, I would say it’s still very hypocritical,” she adds.
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But Dokken views cannabis the same as any other fitness product out there. She came to use cannabis “accidentally” at first, while training as a bodybuilder; she saw her friends in the bodybuilding community use it after heavy lifting sessions to relax and get their bodies back to normal. “When I lifted, it was really intense, where I would even get sick after a lifting session,” she recalls. Cannabis has been shown to help with nausea, and it affects the body’s endocannabinoid system, which works to keep the body at homeostasis.
When she returned from the Army to a world of legal weed and CBD-focused products in Colorado, Dokken "started to see if this was another tool [to] use." She currently consumes Wana's high-CBD, low-THC extended-release capsules as well as high-CBD strawberry gummies, one of her favorite products from the brand. She takes her CBD before a workout to improve focus and effort, and during more intense workouts to lessen the pain.
Dokken also uses cannabis to lessen the pain from injuries. While in the army, she suffered a stress fracture that was misdiagnosed, causing a buildup of scar tissue around her femur and hamstring. Cannabis helps the inflammation and makes therapy more effective, she says, and her physical therapist has even advised that other patients bring their CBD creams and capsules to their sessions.
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In many ways, cannabis helps Dokken push past her comfort zone — a far cry from the stereotypical stoner of the past. “That lazy-stoner stigma that’s out there right now — I love to crush it,” she says.
Other athletes, like Heather and Antonio DeRosa of MJFITNUT, are also trying to start conversations about cannabis and fitness to destigmatize the issue and raise awareness of the plant's benefits. The couple recently held an informational talk on the nutritional benefits of hemp, which can be used as an easier protein powder to digest than whey and casein proteins.
It’s definitely becoming a trend, according to Wana CEO and founder Nancy Whiteman, who says she’s seen more interest in her brand from athletes recently. “It’s kind of an emerging area that I think is just starting to get some press right now,” she explains. “I think people are finding that it’s useful for a number of things, including recovery after a workout.”
While Wana isn’t planning to stray from its edibles products, the company hopes to work with more athletes in the future to raise awareness about the benefits of cannabis. The brand’s tagline, “Enhance your life,” fits in well with this idea, Whiteman believes: “We take our tagline of ‘Enhance your life’ very seriously."