Saturday, December 26, 2015

High on Running

A friend who happens to be a non-runner asked me what the runner's high is really like. This caused me to do something quite unusual: stop and think.

My gut reaction was to retort with some sort of smart-ass remark, since that's how I respond to most serious inquiries about running. But something stopped me this time: I didn't have a good real answer to reply with on the heels of the smartie one.

I answered, "you just feel real good." And then, realizing that that wasn't very satisfying, went on to say that it's caused by endorphins being released into your bloodstream, affecting your brain. "Kind of like heroin," I said half-jokingly, even though it's true.

I went on to say that running provides a general sense of well-being, and that I always feel better right after a run than before. But the times when I've felt truly great - enough to notice and contemplate - have been truly rare. They've definitely happened, but not often at all.

In order to add some research to back up my explanation about simple feelings of well-being as well as occasional euphoria, I found this Runners World Article that explains things quite well. And this one from Scientific American also provides some good information.

All I can add is that it seems to occur in the late stages of a long, hard effort, and yet in my case, it's rare and always seems to happen unexpectedly. But as with some of my best runs - and I'm sure this is related - those rare occurrences are so wonderful that any possibility of more keeps me coming back and trying even harder.

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