Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) and exercise may not sound like the most practical pairing, but what if a proper dose of LSD could produce the same effects as runner highs or pre-workouts? Below is a mico-dose of the history and facts regarding LSD and exercise, enjoy the trip.
Psychedelic Pre-workout: Simulating Natural Highs?
A release of endorphins occurs while exercising, which can produce natural highs. A common example of this is runner’s high, which is the euphoric state athletes achieve when participating in high-intensity exercises. Runner’s high is caused by changes in the body and brain that occur during exercise, which has been associated with the processes that happen when people consume opioid drugs.
While some people use exercise as a drug, others use substances to activate these amplified, euphoric states before their workout even begins. Examples include caffeinated beverages along with a pre-workout substance. Pre-workout supplements are multi-ingredient dietary formulas designed to boost energy and athletic performance. What if this pre-workout routine got a dose of psychedelics? Are LSD and exercise a good combination? We’ll dive into how athletes are experimenting with psychedelics, specifically LSD, to boost their performance.
What is LSD?
First, let’s go over some basics. LSD is a psychedelic hallucinogen from the ergoline family. It is a potent psychedelic that typically takes effect about a half-hour after ingestion and induces an experience that lasts anywhere between eight to twelve hours.
To learn more about LSD read our Guide on LSD.
When consumed in large doses, LSD produces a profound psychedelic effect involving:
- Closed and open eye visuals
- Dilated pupils
- Reduced appetite
- Heightened emotions
- An altered sense of reality
When LSD is taken in a small dose, or microdose, it does not produce any of these strong effects. A real microdose should not produce any acute effects that are very noticeable, but rather a psychological and social benefit from regularly consuming microdoses. These effects may include increases in:
- Social ability
- Analytical thinking
- Positive mood
- General wellbeing
LSD and Exercise: An Athlete’s Pick-Me-Up
As stated in the lists above, it is clear that the most common dose of psychedelic pre-workout is a microdose, and much of the research is largely based on anecdotal microdosing experiences. However, there are some large dose, no-hitters, ultra marathon experiments as well. We’ll go over both.
Microdosing LSD to Enhance Performance
Studies in sports physiology have 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.
Journalist and author Alex Hutchinson argues in his book Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, 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 many researchers, who have done studies showing that brain chemistry is involved in the regulation of fatigue during extensive exercise. It is the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine that play a big role as regulators and can mimic what common psychedelics do to our brain chemistry.
“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 the perception of effort, you can change your performance. So the idea that psychedelics might boost performance isn’t totally outlandish.”
One of the most popular stories to tell when testing the hypothesis of psychedelics boosting performance is the story of Dock Ellis, a pitcher of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1970, Ellis pitched a no-hitter while under the influence of a macro-dose of LSD. Ellis had never achieved a no-hitter in a sober state, thus the LSD must be taken into consideration when reviewing such an outstanding athletic achievement. To celebrate Ellis’ legendary LSD achievement, artist James Blagden produced an animated tale.
Role of The Default Mode Network
Slight changes in brain chemistry and dopamine and serotonin surges can’t be the only factor in this equation. As a matter of fact, The Psychedelic Science Review goes on to cover another mechanism called The Default Mode Network (DMN). 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. Extensive research has shown that activity in the DMN of the brain is reduced after ingestion or injection of psychedelic drugs
The theory is that if the default mode network is tamped down by psychedelics during exercise, and task-oriented networks are amplified, an athlete might be less likely to dwell on the pain, or doubt, and more likely to be hyper-focused on the task at hand. From running on LSD to bicycling on LSD, these theories have been tested by athletes in many radical ways.
Running and Bicycling on LSD
Although many of the radical psychedelic exercise experiments are anecdotal, they are still paving the way for researchers and psychonauts to discover the best ways to use psychedelic medicines to optimize human potential. For instance, a story from Joe Rogan’s Reddit, tells about a man who successfully achieved an ultramarathon on a macro-dose of LSD. Outside of this man’s ultramarathon experience, running and cycling have become a popular exercise for microdosing LSD.
Specifically for the bicycling junkies, there has been an entire day dedicated to LSD and bike rides. Although this day was never intended to be an experiment for LSD and exercise, it has quickly become just that, Bicycle Day! This is commonly known to the psychonaut community as a day of celebration and remembrance to Swiss chemist, Dr. Albert Hofmann. On April 19th, 1943, Hofmann accidentally absorbed a small amount of LSD and discovered its powerful effects on his bike ride home, becoming the first human to ever trip on this substance. Thus, leading psychonauts to dedicate every April 19th to a little celebratory LSD-induced cycling.
“I think that in human evolution it has never been as necessary to have this substance LSD…It is just a tool to turn us into what we are supposed to be.” Till the day Hofmann left the earth, he was an advocate for the power LSD has to optimize human potential.
Ongoing studies around psychedelics or LSD and exercise are extremely important in understanding how psychedelic substances are improving our physical and mental performance as a human race. Continuing to safely research, document, and share experiments will help propel the psychedelic wellness marathon.
CALLING ALL PSYCHONAUTS
What do you think about LSD and exercise? Share your thoughts or personal experiences with us in the comments below. We want to hear all about your magical trips.
Disclaimer: LSD is potentially categorized as an illegal drug. Reality Sandwich is not encouraging the use of these drugs where prohibited. However, we believe that providing information is imperative for the safety of those who choose to explore these substances. This guide is intended to give educational content and should in no way be viewed as medical recommendations.