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Psychedelics and endurance sports: Increased energy and reduced fatigue?

mr peabody

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Psychedelics and endurance sports: Increased energy and reduced fatigue?

by Nate Seltenrich | Psychedelic Science Review | 15 May 2020

One mechanism of action may be similar to taking amphetamines.

While anecdotal reports indicate psychedelics are useful in artistic and meditative pursuits, users have also reported them beneficial for physical activities dependent on alertness, awareness, and the rapid processing of sensory data — everything from climbing rock pitches to pitching in pro baseball, it seems.

But in recent years, accounts have surfaced on internet forums of psychedelics offering a different sort of benefit for exercise: increased energy and reduced fatigue during endurance sports like cycling and running.

While the scientific literature is lacking in empirical studies examining the effects of psychedelics on aerobic exercise, experts suggest there are several possible mechanisms — including the placebo effect — that may describe these users’ experiences.

What the experts are saying

In his comprehensive and widely cited 2016 overview of psychedelic science in the journal Pharmacological Reviews, researcher Dr. David Nichols of the University of North Carolina addresses the effects of psychedelics on brain function, sleep, time perception, and visual perception — but nothing related to endurance.

By email, Nichols confirmed he was unaware of any studies to date focused on this research question in humans. He did, however, suggest a potential mechanism for increased energy and stamina based on previous findings in animal models: dopamine.

“Locomotor activity in rodents is generally a product of increased activity in dopaminergic areas of the brain,” Nichols said.

"Psychedelics can turn off inhibitory GABA pathways that suppress dopaminergic tone. So dopaminergic activity is disinhibited, and the effect is similar to what happens if you take an amphetamine."

More generally, research in sports physiology has shown that perceived effort, fatigue, and energy levels — especially in endurance sports — are tightly metered and mediated by the brain. Performance isn’t as closely linked to purely physiological parameters such as VO2 max and lactate threshold as researchers once thought.

In his 2018 book Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, journalist and author Alex Hutchinson argues that runners and cyclists are far more beholden to brain chemistry than they often acknowledge. For example, even elite athletes during serious competition have been shown to accelerate — not slow, as expected — toward the end of a race, suggesting they were subconsciously holding back until the effort was almost over.

Hutchinson cites the work of researchers like Romain Meeusen, a professor of human physiology at Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium, who has shown that brain chemistry is involved in the regulation of fatigue during prolonged exercise — with the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine (mimicked by “classic” psychedelics and mescaline, respectively) both playing important roles.

“There’s no doubt that perception of effort is mediated by the brain, even though many of the inputs — temperature, heart rate, oxygen levels, and so on — are coming from elsewhere in the body,” Hutchinson wrote in an email. “And in endurance sports, if you can change perception of effort, you can change your performance. So the idea that psychedelics might boost performance isn’t totally outlandish.”

Meeusen’s team has tried — unsuccessfully, it seems — to improve physical performance during exercise through nutritional manipulation of neurotransmitter systems. But he hasn’t tested psychedelics yet, he acknowledged when contacted by Psychedelic Science Review.

Possible role of the DMN

There is a yet another potential mechanism more germane to psychedelics that could be involved, at least in theory. Extensive research has shown that activity in the default mode network (DMN) of the brain is reduced after ingestion or injection of psychedelic drugs. The DMN, as we now know, is associated with introspective and self-reflective thought. Additionally, activity in the DMN is often inversely correlated with that of nearby networks geared toward task completion.

If the DMN is tamped down by a psychedelic during exercise, and task-oriented networks amplified, could the result be an athlete who is less likely to dwell on discomfort or self-doubt and more likely to be laser-focused on the job at hand — all while being energized or at least distracted by a heightened sensory experience?

In her 2019 book The Joy of Movement: How Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage, author Kelly McGonigal notes that studies have shown that exercise (particularly in green spaces like parks) can reduce activity in the DMN, just like psychedelics.

“If you focus on what is unique about green exercise, the class of drugs it most closely resembles is the entheogen, a category that includes psilocybin, ayahuasca, and LSD,” McGonigal writes in her book. “Like green exercise, these drugs alter consciousness by temporarily reorganizing the default state.” So perhaps there is some synergy in play.

Is it the placebo effect?

Or could all this be the result of the placebo effect — more cynically, an imaginary phenomenon — engendered by some people’s desire to perform better, or at least to feel better, after taking a small dose of a psychedelic? Even given all the potential mechanisms seemingly available to explain away claims on internet message boards, Hutchinson wouldn’t rule that out. At least until some treadmill tests have been run.

“There’s a difference between saying something is theoretically possible and showing something is actually true. And to make that jump requires more than anecdotes and subjective impressions,” he writes. “So to me, until proven otherwise, psychedelics are in the same category as all the supplements and wearable gadgets that I get press releases about: it’s an interesting idea, but nothing more until proven otherwise.”






Psychedelics as a performance-enhancer in athletics

by Shane O'Connor | Psychedelic Science Review | 8 May 2019

A look into the cognitive-enhancing effects of psychedelics in sports.

It’s a game of inches in the world of elite level, high stakes sports and many are willing to trade sportsmanship for glory. When the topic of Performance-Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) appears in the media, the discussion usually focuses on cases such as the state-sponsored doping program carried out by the Russian Olympic Committee, as depicted in the documentary Icarus, or the monumental fall from grace of former Tour de France “winner,” Lance Armstrong.

Erythropoietin (EPO) is probably the most well-known PED, due to its association with Lance Armstrong. EPO increases red blood cell (RBC) count in the body. Increasing RBC results in a higher rate of oxygen delivery from the lungs to the muscles, improving an athlete’s endurance and aerobic capacity (VO2 max). PEDs of past and present are formulated to give athletes an unfair psychical edge over their competitors; could PEDs of the future endow athletes with a cognitive advantage?

New perceptions

The terms psychedelics and PEDs are rarely associated with one another. In fact, for many years the conventional wisdom was that psychedelic usage “fries your brain,” thanks in part to public service campaigns aired in the eighties and nineties. However, recent studies into the benefits “microdosing” psychedelics suggest that the molecules may act as cognitive enhancers.

Microdosing is a process whereby individuals take psychedelics at doses lower than the threshold for a fully immersive psychedelic experience. These doses can be as low as 1/20th of a “normal” recreational dose. Thanks to the resurgence of interest and support for psychedelic research, academic institutions have begun to study the effects of microdosing. In a recent study conducted by the University of Leiden, researchers observed that microdosing psilocybin (the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms”) promoted cognitive flexibility, in turn increasing divergent and convergent thinking. How could this increase in cognitive flexibility endow an athlete with a competitive edge in sports?

Athlete’s anecdotes

In an article written for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelics Studies (MAPS), athlete and author James Oroc discusses the prevalence of psychedelics usage at “psycholytic” doses among winter sports athletes. The term psycholytic dose refers to low, sub-threshold doses. Oroc is, in essence, describing microdosing. “Virtually all athletes who learn to use LSD at psycholytic dosages believe that the use of these compounds improves both their stamina and ability,” writes Oroc. Many athletes report improvements in balance, reflexes and concentration, along with the ability to overcome fatigue and altitude sickness. Interestingly, they liken the experience to being in a “flow-state” or being “in the zone.” Users report that time appears to slow down and that they become capable of “instantaneous feats of non-thinking coordination.”

Former Pittsburgh Pirate’s pitcher, Dock Ellis, claimed to have had experienced a psychedelic-induced flow state. On June 12th, 1970, Ellis threw a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres while under the influence of LSD. Ellis commented, “I can only remember bits and pieces of the game. I was psyched. I had a feeling of euphoria. I was zeroed in on the catcher’s glove.”

Another area of intrigue is the recent rise in popularity of marijuana usage in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). While marijuana does not fall under the category of psychedelics, it is a psychotropic drug (a drug capable of affecting the mind, emotions, and behaviour). BJJ players report similar improvements in cognitive flexibility when they use marijuana before competing. BJJ is a highly cerebral martial art that focuses on grappling with particular emphasis on ground fighting. Practitioners and advocates of the sport often liken it to a game of chess rather than a street brawl. In an article written for BJJ world, journalist and BJJ practitioner Ognen Dzabirski writes, “Another thing weed and Jiu-Jitsu have in common is flow. Being high and rolling (sparring) are tightly related to the flow state. Weed helps your mind get into that “flow zone” where your rolls are seamless and just keep on going. It is Jiu-Jitsu at it’s finest and weed is a great way to find your flow.”

Regulatory questions

At present, psychedelics do not appear on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) list of banned substances. The absence of psychedelics from the list presumably has to do with the lack of robust, scientific studies into their effects as PEDs. Interestingly, cannabinoids such as D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (the psychoactive constituent of the cannabis plant) are prohibited. According to the United State’s Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) website, cannabinoids are viewed as a performance-enhancers since they can cause “muscle relaxation and reduce pain during post-workout recovery. It can also decrease anxiety and tension, resulting in better sports performance under pressure. Also, cannabis can increase focus and risk-taking behaviours, allowing athletes to forget bad falls or previous trauma in sport, and push themselves past those fears in competition.” This statement correlates with the anecdotal reports given by athletes on the performance-enhancing effects of psychedelics. One could postulate that if the athlete’s claims regarding the benefits of psychedelics are eventually verified by scientific studies, they may be viewed by doping agencies in the same light as cannabinoids.

Currently, WADA may grant a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) to athletes using medical marijuana while competing. TUEs are decided on a case by case basis and are usually only given to athletes using medical marijuana to treat quite severe conditions, i.e. in those suffering from neuropathic pain. In recent years, there has been increased interest in research concerning the therapeutic effects of psychedelics in a multitude of affective disorders. It may be the case that athletes could apply for TUE while using psychedelics, should scientists elucidate the therapeutic benefits of these drugs.

Summary

A caveat to this article is that most, if not all, of the evidence provided, is anecdotal. Very little peer-reviewed, robust scientific literature exists on the topic of psychedelics as PEDs. The majority of discussion concerning this theme takes place on internet forums and message boards, such as Reddit. Understandably, the majority of research efforts are focused on the elucidation of the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelics. While the Leiden University study mentioned at the beginning of this article has its limitations (i.e. absence of placebo group, the reliance on online questionnaires), it serves as a starting point for a more rigorous investigation into the subject matter. In the coming decades, the world may see a new breed of athlete, one who possesses a cognitive edge over their competition, thanks to mechanisms of action of psychedelics PEDs.

 
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Vastness

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Interesting, I remember I posted a thread here a while back while on an LSD+Ketamine ego trip thinking surely this combo must make me undefeatable at all sports... :LOL: and speculating if psychedelics could indeed have performance enhancing benefits beyond ego delusion. So, interesting to see that they might do! Even if it is microdosing rather than a full blown trip, which, I guess, makes sense.
 

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The best game of darts I ever played was under the influence of lsd. It's like I could see exactly where the dart was gonna go, I just intuitively "knew". Think I pulled off like 3 hat tricks in a row or damn near close to it
 
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PYTH

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I've said it before but they most certainly can, in really profound ways... *however* it's much easier to overexert and injure yourself if you're not careful, which I have.
 

thegreenhand

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LSD certainly improves my running performance. It feels like I never hit "the wall". And I have some issues with the article's definition of "psycholytic". A microdose is by defintion sub perceptible but a psycholytic dose blurs this line. It is not a full on "trip" but one definitley feels the effects. Perhaps around 30 ug of LSD. Doses in that range have been most effective for me. And yes, overexertion is certainly a risk that one needs to be aware of
 

hydroazuanacaine

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i usually take 75mcg of 1cplsd because that’s the max i can handle. love taking it right before a run or going to the gym. the comeup distracts me from the pain and the runners high puts me in a perfect frame of mind for the drug’s effects. the shower after is so rewarding. has to be timed right though. i do not want to be at the gym when 75mcg hits full force. running, i’m afraid i’ll twist an ankle once it really kicks in because the ground gets those swells.

it’s for pleasure. doesn’t negatively or positively impact my times.
 

Zoob1234

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This was really interesting, thank you for posting this up. Had no idea that psychedelics like LSD could have a ergogenic effect on exercise.
 

thegreenhand

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Yeah it’s definitely an area that I think most trippers and/or athletes don’t explore. My first ever psychedelic trip was LSD and as I was coming down from the peak I had an intense urge to go on a run. I was scared at first because it was like 2 am and I didn’t wanna seem suspicious but my homie said I should do what I gotta do.

Thank god i went because it was the most profound life changing moment of my life. Moreso than any other trip I’ve had since or any other life event, sober or otherwise. I fully realized who I was a as a person. Words can never do it justice but those of you who have tripped know what I mean.

Since then I have ran on LSD multiple times. Once to save me and a friend from a trip that was spiraling down the drain we took an 8 mile run across the town that got us both feeling much better. When I was microdsong for a few weeks I was running for fitness as I always do and the runs were a bit different mentally but not really performance enhancing per se.

When I took ~25ug before my first triathlon it certainly was helpful. I had the fourth best split for the run portion out of 50 or so competitors
 

G_Chem

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So I can attest 100% psychedelics allow me to push longer and harder in my work outs, but the biggest thing is they keep me motivated. They help get back on track after a potential lull.

I don’t work out on them obviously but find increased performance in the days after which helps to solidify positive long term habits.

-GC
 

Zoob1234

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Yeah it’s definitely an area that I think most trippers and/or athletes don’t explore. My first ever psychedelic trip was LSD and as I was coming down from the peak I had an intense urge to go on a run. I was scared at first because it was like 2 am and I didn’t wanna seem suspicious but my homie said I should do what I gotta do.

Thank god i went because it was the most profound life changing moment of my life. Moreso than any other trip I’ve had since or any other life event, sober or otherwise. I fully realized who I was a as a person. Words can never do it justice but those of you who have tripped know what I mean.

Since then I have ran on LSD multiple times. Once to save me and a friend from a trip that was spiraling down the drain we took an 8 mile run across the town that got us both feeling much better. When I was microdsong for a few weeks I was running for fitness as I always do and the runs were a bit different mentally but not really performance enhancing per se.

When I took ~25ug before my first triathlon it certainly was helpful. I had the fourth best split for the run portion out of 50 or so competitors
That is really interesting, do you find it weird to swim with LSD in your system? Or is the dose so low that it acts more like a nootropic and focuses you a bit more?
 

thegreenhand

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That is really interesting, do you find it weird to swim with LSD in your system? Or is the dose so low that it acts more like a nootropic and focuses you a bit more?
Yeah more like a nootropic. Swimming is already quite an altered headspace for me, with it's meditative aspect. The small amount of LSD doesn't change much. Now when i swam on 100 ug that was interesting haha
 

Serotonin101

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I remember eating acid and swimming in the ocean at Pensacola Beach. Was a warm summer day and it literally felt like I was melting into the water. Going underwater I would not recommend lol as navigating direction was difficult with the lack of gravity. Didn't know which way was up or down.
 

Vastness

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I would be pretty concerned about drowning in any body of water on a psychedelic, lol, but then I only learned to swim as an adult so have never been that confident in water. I'll hopefully give it a go someday though, with appropriate safety precautions in place of course. 😄
 

SnafuInTheVoid

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I've gone on a jog about 8 hours into an LSD trip. It was quite amazing, I should try it again. I really wasn't paying attention to my pace or endurance though.

Psychedelics, especially LSD have a lot of weird understudied effects. Take LSD for example, I can drink 20 beers, then pop a tab and feel ZERO hangover whatsoever (when normally I would be out of commision for 14 hours).

I'm still trying to explain how this happens... I've done it several times in my life and every time, zero hangover at all. Weird.

edit: After some basic research this might be due to alcohol being a vasodilator and LSD being vasoconstrictive... maybe they cancel eachother out on that front. Either way I still feel no other hangover effects. It's my secret hangover cure lol, even did this at work one day.
 
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Anonymous Dissident

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I can say, at least for me, psychedelics and endurance excercise are a great combo. I'm a dedicated cyclist and I've found drastic improvements in overall endurance and ability to tolerate intense physical discomfort when using low dose psychedelics as performance enhancers.

Choosing the right drug and dose is paramount. Mountain biking and overwhelming visuals obviously do not mix. Low doses of most phenethylamines work very well. Mescaline gives endless, but comfortable, amounts of energy. Indoles seem better suited to hiking and lower speed activities.
 

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Psychedelics and Extreme Sports

by James Oroc

According to the legends of this tight-knit underground, many incredible feats having been accomplished by modern extreme-athletes while under the influence of psychedelics.
LSD can increase your reflex time to lightning speed, improve your balance to the point of perfection, increase your concentration...and make you impervious to weakness or pain.


For those unfamiliar with the effects of psychedelics, the title of this article may seem like a contradiction – for what connection could there possibly be between these psychedelic compounds and extreme sports? Based on the tangled reputation that LSD has had since the mid-1960’s it would seem impossible to believe that various experienced individuals have climbed some of the hardest big walls in Yosemite, heli-skied first descents off Alaskan peaks, competed in world-class snowboarding competitions, raced motocross bikes, surfed enormous Hawaiian waves, flown hang-gliders above 18,000 feet, or climbed remote peaks in the Rockies, the Alps, the Andes, and even above 8000 meters in the Himalayas – all while under the influence of LSD.

However, in the underground culture of extreme sports, the use of LSD or psilocybin while skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, surfing, skateboarding, etc., is in fact common throughout North American ski and sports towns, where they enjoy an almost sacred reputation. According to the legends of this tight-knit underground, many incredible feats having been accomplished by modern extreme athletes while under the influence of psychedelics.

Popular perception about the disabling effects of psychedelics and their use in the extreme sports community is mostly a matter of dosage and historical familiarity. LSD is extraordinarily potent - effective on the human physiology in the millionths of grams (mcg), and very small differences in dosage can lead to dramatically different effects. In the first decade of LSD research it was commonly accepted that the “LSD intoxication” occurred when dosing over 200mcg. At the lower dosages, a state was known as “psycholytic” was also recognized, where in may cases cognitive functioning, emotional balance, and physical stamina were actually found to be improved.

This recognition of the varying effects of LSD was lost after the popular media demonized LSD with the help of the various myths and excesses of the “1960s Love Generation.” When LSD made the jump from the clinic to the underground, its early explorers were universally fascinated with the higher dosage entheogenic experience, while the more subtle effects at lower dosages were largely forgotten or ignored. The first “street” LSD in the 1960’s was generally between 250 and 500mcg — a potency powerful enough to guarantee the casual user a truly psychedelic experience.

LSD is somewhat unusual, however, in that a user can build a fast tolerance to the compound after regular (daily use) and while one’s initial experiences on even a single dose can be dramatic, before long veteran “acid heads” may be increasing their own dosage tenfold – thus requiring much stronger “hits” than the average user. It was the high dosage of this early street “Acid” that in combination with the complete ignorance of its early users that would be responsible for the high number of “acid casualties” that gave LSD its fearsome reputation. However, by the 1980’s both Deadheads and the Acid House generation had realized to drop the dosage of street acid to between 100-125mcg, while these days a hit may be as low as 50mcg—or as little as ten percent as powerful as a hit of 1960’s acid. Which is a dosage well below the true psychedelic threshold for most people, and for an experienced user suitably inclined, can certainly be calculated to fall within the forgotten “psycholytic” category."

There was always a strong contingent of “experienced psychedelic users” among the extreme sports community due to the little-realized fact that the seeds of the extreme sports revolution were actually planted with the dismantling and dispersal of Psychedelic Culture in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. As countless numbers of counterculture refuges left the major cities and moved out to small towns in the country in the “Back to the Land” movement, most were looking for new paths to fulfillment after the spectacular promises of the brief “Psychedelic Age” had failed and a new age of uppers and downers was emerging.

They were faced with an obviously dangerous downturn in what was now being universally called the “drug culture.” First heroin, and then, cocaine, dramatically increased in popularity, which marked the beginning of our urban society’s more than thirty year-old epidemic of cocaine and amphetamine abuse. A few turned to the traditions of Christianity, Islam, Eastern, or New Age religions, while many others, perhaps less institutionally inclined, went to small coastal towns in California, Oregon, or even Hawaii to surf. Or they landed in the numerous small towns in the Rockies from Montana to New Mexico that were being developed as ski areas at that time.

These “hippies” bought with them a newly found cultural respect for the land, which had come directly from the use of psychedelics, since the use of psychedelics in nature inevitably increases the spiritual appreciation of one’s role in nature, and of Nature itself. (There are many commentators today who believe that the modern environmental movement was born out of the fact that 25 million people took LSD in the late 1960s). They also had an adventurous attitude toward the land, derived from a general fascination with the Plains Indians and the Wild West era, and from the naturalist vision of the American wilderness that Walt Whitman, Thoreau, and especially Jack Kerouac espoused - the philosophy that one could somehow “find oneself” out among the wilds of America.



At the same time as this sudden influx of these “freaks” to the beaches, deserts, and mountains of the world, technological advances in what were considered minor cult-like sports were suddenly allowing ordinary individuals unprecedented access to the wildernesses of the world. In the mountains, the ocean, and even the air, a new kind of athlete took the concept of “finding oneself in the wilds” to a whole new definition. The invention of these highly individualistic sports (surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, BASE jumping, tow-in surfing, etc.) that sought to use existing terrain in new and inventive ways generally raised the ire of the status quo, and so most “extreme sports” begin life as “outlaw sports” of some kind or another, with their participants regarded as rebels.

The attraction of these types of sports for the newly arrived psychedelic era refugees is obvious, and most of the leading figures of surfing, rock climbing, back country skiing, hang gliding, etc., of this era were clearly cultural rebels living well outside of the norms of society. For this particular branch of the psychedelic tree, the oceans, deserts, and great mountains of the world were now being recognized as the ultimate “set and setting” – a realization common to mystics and saddhus since the beginning of recorded time.

Thanks to the sudden exponential growth of the worldwide leisure industry towards the end of the 1970s, becoming a climbing, skiing, or surfing “bum” became the easiest way of dropping out of contemporary society, a socially healthier alternative to the free love communes of the previous decade that still allowed one to smoke pot, take psychedelics, and mostly fly under the cultural radar. By the 1980s a good portion of any American ski town (and especially the leather-booted telemark skiers) were Dead-heads, and the most effective LSD network in the country–while many other less obvious skiers and climbers still kept the tradition of using pot (a remarkable natural analgesic), acid, and mushrooms in the mountains alive, where the mountains themselves acted as natural shields from prying eyes.

After the invention of snowboarding, mountain biking, and to a lesser extent paragliding, in the 1980s, virtually all of the newly named “extreme sports” experienced a rapid growth of popularity in the mid 1990s. This resulted in a corresponding growth in the populations of these same small ski and sports towns. Between 1992 and 1997 MTV Sports was one of the most popular shows on cable television, as it glorified the emerging “extreme-sports” to its youthful audience and established the “grunge” and hip-hop music it was promoting as the “in” sound of the now exploding snowboarder population.

"If you start asking about sporting feats accomplished on psychedelics in pretty much any bar in a ski town, you will hear some fine tales..."

The emerging electronic (rave) music of the same time period also appealed to the naturally rebellious nature of extreme athletes and introduced that culture to Burning Man from its very inception, further reinforcing the knowledge of modern psychedelic culture in what are often remote mountain towns. (“Black Rock City” got its name in 1995, the same summer as the first X Games.) Many Western ski towns now have a resident “Burner” population, much in the same way they had “hippy” or “freak” population in the early 1970s, and these small towns generally remain more liberally-minded than other towns of similar size in America.

This entwined relationship between the cultures of psychedelics and extreme sports has in fact been there since the beginning, with what is perhaps the original extreme sport, the much mythologized sport of surfing. After the fallout of 1967-68, when San Francisco and the Haight-Ashbury became overrun, and its original hipster founders abandoned it, the Southern Californian surfing town of Laguna Beach became the defacto center of the psychedelic world when a group of diehard surfers – known as the Brotherhood of Love – became the world’s first LSD cartel.

Along with the smuggling of tons of hashish from Afghanistan to fund their operation, they were responsible for distributing tens of millions of hits of Orange Sunshine LSD. In explaining the connection between LSD and surfing, early Brotherhood member Eddie Padilla remarks on the practical side of a culture based on pot and psychedelics use:

“The effect of the LSD we were taking was starting to demand a higher quality lifestyle, food-wise and in every way. All these surfer people had that lifestyle already in place. To surf, you had to remain sober and be more in tune with nature. Don’t get too screwed up, because the surf may be good tomorrow.”



In this explanation, Eddie Padilla hits on half of the real physical reason why psychedelics have always been a part of extreme sports culture, in that psychedelic use is not only more inspiring in the wilderness, but it is also eminently more practical. LSD can easily be a 10 to 14 hour experience, which is too long of a trip for most people, and especially if it is taken at night. If it is taken in the morning, however, and one has the voluminous expanses of the ocean, the deserts, or mountains of the world to roam and contemplate, then the length of an acid trip is rarely a problem since it will also start to fade with the end of the light of the day.

If one keeps hydrated, and the acid trip is kept within the regular biorhythms of the user to allow normal hours of sleep, then this “trip” can in truth be one of the least physically debilitating altered states experiences available, with little or no discernible “hangover” – ridiculously so when compared to the debilitating effects of cocaine or alcohol and the extreme hangover they bring. The non-addictive and nonphysically debilitating qualities of psychedelics are of course rarely touted by the popular media, but are well known among communities that are familiar with them, and the nontoxic qualities of psychedelics are half of the physical reason for their enduring appeal among extreme athletes.

The other half of this physical reason that “psychedelic drugs” are so popular with extreme athletes is due to their previously noted psycholytic effects at the correct dosages. Virtually all athletes who learn to use LSD at psycholytic dosages believe that the use of these compounds improves both their stamina and their abilities. According to the combined reports of 40 years of use by the extreme sports underground, LSD can increase your reflex time to lightning speed, improve your balance to the point of perfection, increase your concentration until you experience “tunnel vision,” and make you impervious to weakness or pain. LSD’s effects in these regards among the extreme sport community are in fact legendary, universal, and without dispute.

It is interesting to note the similarities between the recollection of these athletic feats while in this psycholytic state, and descriptions that professional athletes give of “Being in the Zone,” a mythical heightened “state” of neo-perfection where athletes report very psychedelic effects such as time slowing down and extraordinary feats of instantaneous non-thinking coordination. Athletes and normal individuals also claim the same effects in moments of heightened adrenaline – the classic fight or flight response. As LSD research returns to the mainstream in the United States, further investigation into the claims of athletes, such as the extreme sports underground, could result in a radically different perception for the variety of uses of psychedelics.



As an extreme sports athlete, journalist, and advocate since the late 1980s, and a former resident of the Rockies for over a decade, I have witnessed tales of numerous incredible feats on psychedelics in the mountains – none of which, unfortunately, I have permission to tell of here. However, after MAPS asked me to write this article earlier this year, I started asking around for other people’s stories. If you start asking about sporting feats accomplished on psychedelics in pretty much any bar in a ski town, you will here some fine tales. I heard of a hang glider flown tandem off of a mountain top under a full moon with both the pilot and passenger on magic mushrooms, of helicopter skiing in Alaska on acid when the guide got avalanched off a cliff right in front of the tripping skier, and of radical solo rock or ice climbs of the highest intensity performed on equally radically headfulls of psychedelics. I even heard of someone taking a hit of DMT before they jumped out of an airplane skydiving. (Now that’s crazy!) I also have no doubt that someone rides Slickrock in Moab on mushrooms or acid probably every single day, and that you couldn’t calculate the number of people who are tripping when it snows in the Rockies. Psychedelic use among extreme sports enthusiasts is simply that prevalent, and has been since the start.

Psychedelics and sports, incredibly, can go together like cheese and bread. An enhanced spiritual appreciation of the natural environment, along with increased stamina and an almost unnatural improvement in balance, are too powerful of a combination not to become sacred among mountain athletes. When I asked a well-known high-altitude climber in Colorado about climbing in the Himalayas on acid, he just laughed and stated that at high-altitude LSD was like “cheating” since it did such a good job of overcoming fatigue and altitude sickness. He also had no doubt that someone had summited Mount Everest while tripping. But I can see how this could all seem very circumstantial and uncorroborated to someone who is skeptical, so I can offer the single documented example of LSD being used in a truly remarkable sporting achievement. This is not one that comes from the outlaw fringes of the extreme sports, but from baseball, from America’s sport itself.

On June 12th, 1970, the Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher, Doc Ellis, threw a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres in a regular major league baseball game, which he admits occurred while he was on LSD. Ellis had thought he was off the pitching roster for that day and so had taken acid with friends in Los Angeles, only to find out, while high, that he had to pitch a game against the Padres that night.

As Ellis recounted it:

"I can only remember bits and pieces of the game. I was psyched. I had a feeling of euphoria. I was zeroed in on the catcher’s glove, but I didn’t hit the glove too much. I remember hitting a couple of batters and the bases were loaded two or three times. The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes, sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I tried to stare the hitter down and throw while I was looking at him. I chewed my gum until it turned to powder. I started having a crazy idea in the fourth inning that Richard Nixon was the home plate umpire, and once I thought I was pitching a baseball to Jimi Hendrix, who to me was holding a guitar and swinging it over the plate."

So for those of you who find it hard to believe that someone can ski, mountain bike, or even fly a hangglider while on psychedelics, I submit to you the well documented case of Doc Ellis, and the fact that a no-hitter in baseball is considered one of the hardest achievements in professional sport; while there have been over 175,000 professional baseball games played since 1900, only 269 no-hitters were pitched between 1879 and 2010. Doc Ellis would go on to be in the World Series with the winning Pirates, and was the starting pitcher for the National League in the All Star Game, but this now-legendary acid-fueled day was his only no-hitter.



As an athlete and journalist James Oroc has been involved in extreme-sport culture since 1987. In 1993 he made the first flight by a paraglider from the top of the world’s tallest active volcano, (Cotopaxi, Ecuador. The author of Tryptamine Palace: 5-MeO-DMT and the Sonoran Desert Toad; From Burning Man to the Akashic Field (Park Street Press, 2009), Oroc also writes and lectures regularly about entheogens and is the curator of www.DMTsite.com, launched in 2011.

 
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GrymReefer

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Always felt like I could achieve an excessively long walk in the park with friends when tripping vs going for a walk sober and being tired/bored after 30-40 minutes.
 
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