Ultrarunner turns to cannabis for pain relief

Flavie Dokken is trying to break the stigma that marijuana users are lazy and she has partnered with a Colorado edibles brand to spread the word.
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Boulder-based ultrarunner Flavie Dokken has partnered with the cannabis company, Wana Brands.

Flavie Dokken’s first experience with cannabis as a training recovery tool was a decade ago, back when she was still a bodybuilder. Then, she used it to heal from severe stress fractures from her time serving in the U.S. Army. Now as a competitive ultrarunner based in Boulder, Colorado, she uses marijuana daily as a natural alternative to cure inflammation and manage pain.

Right before the start of her running season, Wana Brands—a top-selling Colorado edibles brand—a few weeks ago announced a year-long partnership with Dokken to break stigmas and promote it as an effective training tool. Races on Dokken’s horizon include the Quad Rock 50 Miles, Bryce Canyon 50K, and Mad Moose Crested Butte 105K. We talked to Dokken about why she opts for cannabis capsules over other painkillers.

Have you seen the outdoor and sports industries become more accepting of cannabis?

I think cannabis has always been part of the outdoor community. As far as being open about it, we still have a long way to go. I think professional athletes trying to get a sponsorship or are already sponsored by mainstream brands are less so because it’s still not federally legal. I really can’t blame them. Ultrarunner Avery Collins is an exception. He does have very mainstream sponsorships and he’s outspoken about his use of cannabis. There’s a lot of other famous athletes that do consume and partake, but they definitely can’t say anything. As far as the general public, there’s progress especially with CBD here in Colorado. It gets more media and more positive connotation than THC still. There’s still a long way to go, but I think there’s progress every year especially with injuries and people experiencing it. I’m trying to do a small part.

How do you incorporate cannabis into your daily routine?

Instead of a coffee or some pre-workout drink, I take sativa edibles. If I have a three-hour run, I take a very small dose—one gummy or half a gummy—right before. It gives me so much more mental focus. Toward the end of a long run, say five hours, I have a lot of inflammation, so I’ll take CBD toward the last hour. Afterwards, it’s a recovery tool. I’ll take the CBD-only caps to ease with inflammation and joint pain, and to feel better the next day. It’s about small doses in increments and finding what works for you rather than basing it off quantities.

What’s your favorite product?

The one-to-one gummy, a ratio of one-to-one CBD and THC. Per gummy, I get 5 milligrams of CBD and 5 milligrams of THC. I really believe that THC combined with CBD makes CBD work better and faster. That’s my go-to after training. I’ll have one and if I’m still in pain after a race when I run for 10 to 15 hours, I’ll have another one at night to go to bed and it helps me wake up refreshed.

Why not Ibuprofen or other painkillers?

While I was in the Army, I was prescribed opioids. And even though I only took them once, the chemicals didn’t make me feel good. I’ve known of other veterans with opioid addictions. Now, there’s more and more evidence that cannabis isn’t as addictive, doesn’t have the same negative side effects, and therefore is a lot safer. Cannabis is a better solution and I really believe in that, having experienced it and witnessed it.

By teaming with Wana Brands, how are you trying to break the stigma that marijuana consumers are couch potatoes?

If we want to make progress and promote a good image, I wouldn’t partner with a company that shows people smoking bongs or blunts in the outdoors. There’s a lot of out there in the media. It's too cliché and I think we should be more advanced by now. Having a company that’s crafty and presents the product really well is really key. We have to be a little more subtle, smart, and genuine.

I’m trying to pass the message along that a lot of cannabis consumer are go-getters. There are numerous examples other than myself, especially in boulder. Cannabis is just really a tool to improve my training and decrease the time of recovery so I can train harder, place higher during my races, and just keep challenging myself to do better. Ultrarunning is about a productive life and me partnering with Wana Brands really shows that cannabis is not hindering in anyway.

Tell us what you think. Do you care if your employees smoke weed or consume cannabis off the clock?

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