Microdosing & CrossFit: My Personal Experience
There is growing interest in the relationship between Psychedelics & Sports. A few short years ago - this marriage would have been scoffed at. But since Aaron Rodgers, the two-time reigning MVP Quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, shared that he had done Ayahuasca - curiosity about this potential coupling has emerged.
Microdosing Psilocybin has well-documented positive effects on peoples mental health; ranging from mood regulation to creativity to anxiety reduction. There is some preliminary research that microdosing may also benefit peoples physical health.
I do CrossFit, which is notoriously difficult on the body. A typical class consists of a strength portion (back squat, deadlift, power clean) & an intense, relatively short (typically ranging from 5 to 30 minutes) conditioning workout. CrossFit athletes typically train 6x per week.
I have microdosed Psilocybin twice this year -the first being a 6 week period spanning from the last week of February through the first week of April and again from the last week of August through the first week of October.
Since this is new science, I decided to share my own experience with microdosing, specifically - how it impacted my recovery, sleep performance & training behavior. I will break down both the data (using my Whoop stats) & the subjective:
The Data & the Subjective: Recovery
Let’s look at the Recovery data (Recovery represents how ready your body is to take on strain):
The takeaway is clear - in the months I was microdosing, I experienced the highest & most optimal Recovery: 65% in March & 65% in September. It’s interesting to point out that in the months immediately after microdosing (April & October), my recovery dropped by 10% each time (to 55%)…proving that the mushrooms did in fact have a positive effect on my ability to recover.
It is common to feel permanently sore when doing CrossFit due to hitting the same muscles with different movements on consecutive days. This constant soreness can be an impediment to performing at a high level. Add in the intensity of the workouts, and recovery is paramount.
The data supports how I felt in March & September. I recall having some of my best workouts during those two months. The likely attribution is feeling less sore, despite no deviation in my calorie intake or changes to my overall diet. I was able to perform better & more consistently since I wasn’t held back by the chronic soreness that plagues many CrossFit athletes.
One downside was I felt far more sore in the months following microdosing. There is a crash of sorts…I returned to baseline soon after the Psilocybin was out of my system.
The Data & the Subjective: Sleep Performance
It’s impossible to live a healthy life while ignoring the importance of sleep. Professional athletes treat sleep as an integral part of their routine. Let’s look at my sleep performance:
Clearly - microdosing had demonstrable positive impact on my sleep in March of ‘22. At 77%, I enjoyed my best sleep performance of the year. This trend did not continue in September, however, where my sleep performance dropped to 69%.
Sleep is impacted by a multitude of factors so it’s difficult to pinpoint why I didn’t experience better sleep performance in September. Could simply be an anomaly.
From a subjective perspective - the main difference in sleep wasn’t the amount of hours I slept each night (I didn’t experience much change here), but the intensity & frequency of the dreams I had.
I had vivid dreams almost every single night. This rarely happens when I am not microdosing. Since dreams happen in REM sleep, I can deduce that I was consistently achieving a deep stage of sleep when Psilocybin was in my system. Since deep sleep improves overall health & athletic performance - there is a good case to be made that microdosing has positive effects for athletes & those training regularly.
The Data & the Subjective: Training Behavior
Training Behavior is broken out into 3 categories - 1) Overreaching (taking on more strain than recommended based on your recovery) 2) Optimal (strain & recovery are balanced) 3) Restorative (taking on less strain than you were ready for). Let’s look at my Training Behavior (unfortunately, Whoop only goes back 6 months for this metric, so I don’t have data from March):
It’s fascinating that I achieved optimal training behavior as the effects of the mushrooms were kicking in:
Causation is difficult to prove. The table illustrates that I also achieved optimal training behavior in August - however, this likely due to travel. I spent a majority of August in Kauai & Vancouver, where I was able to avoid my unfortunate habit of overtraining & overextending myself (I didn’t have access to my CrossFit gym for a majority of the month…I was in hotels & AirBnB’s).
I didn’t travel at all in September, making it likely that microdosing played some role in my optimal training behavior status. As we saw with both recovery & sleep performance, the positive effects were ephemeral - I reverted back to baseline after the effects of microdosing subsided (in this particular case, I went back to overreaching in October).
September was a month where I felt great, both inside & outside of the gym. Some of this is attributed to the heightened recovery I discussed in Section #1 - but I also experienced an increase in enjoyment when I was training in March & September. Psilocybin, even in small doses, facilitates a focus on being present. Being ‘in the now’. I felt less distracted when training, more focused, more in tune with my body & at peace with even the hardest of workouts. I was unflappable.
My takeaway from analyzing the data and the subjective is more & more professional athletes will look to Psychedelics to optimize their performance. This will have a cascading effect on the population at large. People looking to improve their physical health by training better & smarter will turn to microdosing. This marriage makes sense - optimizing your physical health while taking care of your body & mind seems like a great way to go through life.
There is no long-term data about the risks of microdosing. I do not recommend microdosing, or taking any Psychedelic, without speaking with your doctor or therapist first.
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