You know the problem. You wish you were faster. You say you run races just for the experience. That smile and the beer in hand are just a facade hiding that deep-seated desire to run really, really fast. You secretly fantasize about posting that age group win on Facebook so all your friends will envy you. If only you were faster.
Some people train hard. Some people have natural talent. Some people just get lucky sometimes. What can you do if you’re lazy, unlucky, genetically inferior? It’s hardly fair you don’t get a piece of the action. So what can you do?
Start smoking crack.
That’s right, score some yam and light up a few minutes before the race. Nancy Reagan be damned, you have a race to win! There’s a great chance the powerful stimulant effect will result in your best performance to date. Additionally, the dopamine flood will assure the race will be enjoyable. When’s the last time you ran a race that was borderline orgasmic?
The Real Issue
I’ve always wondered about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the world of recreational running. It makes sense if the pros are using PEDs as there’s significant monies involved. But what about those that are just shooting for a PR or a win in an insignificant local race? Would people use steroids or illegal stimulants to gain an upper hand?
Seems a little silly, doesn’t it?
Or is it? We already do things to boost our performances. We use things that give us an edge but are legal? I drink Red Bull in ultras to give me a boost and ward of sleep. Lots of people use OTC pain meds. Isn’t that basically the same? Where do we draw the line?
We could use the legality argument… but that’s a slippery slope. Caffeine is legal, but can be taken in doses that produce a stronger effect than other illegal stimulants. Regarding pain meds, is there a difference between OTC ibuprofen and prescription strength ibuprofen? What about the opiates? Is Vicodin okay? Most would say no, but what if it were prescribed?
This argument could even be taken to the gear we use. Jesse Scott and I had a conversation last year about Hokas. The shoes more or less eliminate the need to develop skill when trail running by turning trails into roads. This is a sizable advantage for people using Hokas. Is that a form of cheating? If it is, then wouldn’t any shoe be considered cheating because it provides an advantage over being barefoot?
How about something like following a course? I ran a 12 hour race a few years ago where a few people ran on the inside of the track despite the RD explicitly stating it was against the rules. I’ve also watched people cut corners in races, or turn around prematurely on an out-and-back. Clearly some are willing to break the rules to boost apparent performance.
Should governing bodies ban any of this stuff, much like the Olympics does? Or should we leave it up to athletes to follow their own moral compass.
I don’t have good answers for any of these situations, but I do like to think about it. Our society has a knack for drawing black and white lines dividing areas that are infinite shades of gray, and I’m always interested to see where others like to draw lines.
Share your thoughts in the comments section. What do you think about the use of performance enhancers in recreational sports? Where do you draw your own personal line?