Brock Cannon recently won his second ultra marathon in a row. That’s a solid accomplishment especially for an ultra runner who only got serious about the sport just three years ago.
In fact, Cannon posted recently on his Facebook page that someone told him after the victory, “Dude it's like you're crushing it out of nowhere!"
But Cannon isn’t new to endurance sports. He started racing mountain bikes at age 15, then joined the elite ranks at 18, competing nationally and at World Cup races. He raced competitively until age 34.
Then life — well, work — got in the way and led to changes.
“I started running, really, because of a time crunch,” he says. “I was traveling a lot as a consultant for work. It just got really difficult to try to figure out a way to take my bike when I was traveling, or rent a bike. Then one day I just had my running shoes and figured it's easier to go for a run. That led into ultimately getting more comfortable with wanting to do trails.”
In the past couple of years, Cannon has averaged 50 to 60 miles per week with about 10,000 feet of climbing. “I guess I was just ready for something different,” he says. “I know it's kind of odd because a lot of runners transition into cycling but I did the opposite.”
The birth of Prevail
Whether endurance athletes are runners, cyclists or both, recovery is vital to their training, recovery and racing.
Throughout his athletic career, Cannon has been searching for ways to recover faster. He focuses his efforts on two areas: a plant-based diet and CBD recovery.
He’s been on a plant-based diet for about seven years now. “I think that really played a key in just recovering faster and trying to get good stuff into my body,” he says.
Cannon also uses CBD and does micro dosing with edible cannabis (“in California we can do that legally”). Spurred on by how well CBD products work, Cannon launched Prevail Botanicals, a company that produces CBD salves that help athletes recover more quickly.
For full disclosure, I am a Prevail ambassador. I have tried several CBD brands but have found Prevail to be the best for me. Most of all, I prefer that it is a salve instead of an oral tincture. If you would like to try the salves, feel free to use my discount code HENRY20 for 20 percent off.
Looking back, Cannon says he must have tried every type of CBD product. Salves. Transdermal lotion or cream. Oil tinctures.
“For me, the potency wasn't really cutting it,” he says. “I do believe very strongly in having a full-spectrum CBD oil because just that trace amount of THC does really activate the CBD. I guess they call it the entourage effect, where those cannabinoids interacting chemically together is more effective.”
In his research, he found Saving Grace Oil in Boulder, Colo., which produces what he wanted — a full-spectrum blend. ”They had the baseline for a really good salve,” he says. “I liked it. It smelled good. It absorbed well.”
As he experimented with it, he upped the dosage to 1000 milligrams in a two-ounce size — about triple of other CBD salve products. “I actually wanted to go up even higher, but then I realized that the 1000 milligram per two ounces is actually working quite well,” he says.
The ‘ah-ha’ moment
Amid his testing, Cannon discovered an “ah-ha” moment and knew he was on to something.
“A lot of people only apply the salve before or sometimes even during their performance,” he says. “But I use it for mostly recovery. I noticed that I could do a particular 13-mile run up in my mountains that I did every week. It would normally take me two days to recover. But when I would apply my salve, I would be pretty good to go the next day.”
Cannon still gets a lot of questions about his CBD salves as they relate to the marijuana plant. First and foremost, it is not addictive.
“In terms of chemical makeup it doesn't have addictive qualities,” he explains. “From what I've researched, for most people unless they're actually severely addiction prone from other drugs as well, cannabis is typically not addictive at all, unlike tobacco. CBD has no high. The THC, if it is a full spectrum blend, is so minimal, under that .03 percent, it's not even close enough to do anything in terms of feeling a little bit loopy or weird. It’s safe.”
Cannon believes so strongly in the salves, he has no plans to offer an oral alternative even though he “could launch one tomorrow.” However, he does see value in another option.
“One of the best technologies that's starting to get a little more traction in the CBD cannabis world are the transdermal patches,” he says. “Those are incredibly high absorption. They're upwards of 93 percent. They just go straight into your bloodstream. So those are exciting and I think if I did anything, it might be looking at that direction.”
Back in his cycling days, Cannon was looking for legal ways to keep excess weight off, get faster and recover quicker. He was a vegetarian for seven years and experienced the benefits. But he wasn’t a healthy vegetarian.
“I was eating a lot of processed stuff,” he says. “Then about seven years ago I thought I would try experimentally to make this shift to a vegan diet. For me, cutting out dairy was huge. I immediately lost about 13 pounds. I guess I loved cheese.”
Still, there are challenges as a vegan.
“It's always been a correcting process of trying not to just be eating junk food, but actually eating plant-based, like juicing and green smoothies and veggie heavy meals,” he says. “I’m not perfect, I definitely enjoy eating a cookie now and then, or two, but I try to keep it 90 percent pretty healthy.”
A message to skeptics
When it comes to CBD treatments, there are skeptics. Some might say, “So, you're telling me you've got this little mini deodorant stick, I rub that on and it relieves muscle pain?”
Cannon has run into — and with — his share of skeptics. Among them are some people who are science-based and they want to see the data. It’s a fair point.
“One of them is actually a scientist and they always want to see more human studies,” Cannon says. “And the reality is right now in the U.S., we are very limited on human studies for CBD, strictly because of what has been the federal status on CBD. But that should be changing as part of last year’s Farm Bill, which made CBD from hemp legal nationwide.”
While there are few human studies, there have been some done on animals.
“When someone's very skeptical about it, I always say, ‘Why don't you just try it and see how it works for you? And if it doesn't work, you can call it garbage and move on and use your ibuprofen instead. Or maybe it will work.’”
Cannon has plenty of success stories to share, some from athletes but also others who suffer from inflammation, pain and other woes. Last year after a Santa Barbara TV station did a story on Prevail, Cannon which led to at least one customer outside his target demographic.
“There was an 88-year-old woman who had seen it, ordered it and had been using it,” he says. “She sent me the most beautiful email about how she had been trying 10 or 12 different meds over the years for her rheumatoid arthritis. Nothing really worked for her, and then this ‘stick’ — as she called it — had been ‘the miracle she'd been looking for, for so many years.’ That was amazing to me because I know how much pain people with rheumatoid arthritis are generally in and how debilitating it can be. She’s been a regular customer ever since. It's really cool.”
Name: Brock Cannon
Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah
Number of years running: Three
How many miles a week do you typically run: 50-60
Point of pride: Climbing
Favorite race distance: 50K plus
Favorite pre-race or training food/drink: Anything with Avocado or peanut butter/ Celery juice
Favorite piece of gear: xoskin toe socks
Favorite or inspirational song to run to: Varies, but I love listening to reggae
Favorite or inspirational mantra/phrase: Just keep fucking going, even if you have to walk.
Where can other runners connect or follow you:
• Instagram: @thebrockcannon
• Facebook @thebrockcannon
• Website: prevailbotanicals.com