Sunday, 22 May 2011

What is the "Runner's High"?

I was chatting with my friend Tony after church today about running.  By his own admission he's a bit of a 5 mile plodder, which is perfectly fine for him.  We went onto comment on how great it makes us feel and we got on to talking about the Runner's High.  We laughed a bit when I said that in church lingo this could be a long the lines of "do you feel the high, brother?".  We both agreed it was a fantastic sensation.

So what is the Runner's High?  Could be different things for different people.  For me, this is it.  It comes after a run of at least 30 minutes, especially if it's been a hard run or I've finished at a fast pace.  This is how it makes me feel:

  • Euphoric
  • Confident
  • On top of the World
  • I can handle anything
  • Reassured
  • Calm
  • I don't care if anyone laughs about me
  • I can do this
  • Unbeatable
Probably the medical definition would talk about endorphins, neurotransmitters, natural painkillers and so on.  I wonder if it's like being on drugs, except this is legal and very natural.  This begs the question whether the Runner's High is addictive?  My honest answer is yes it probably is but not in a destructive way that cigarettes, alcohol and drugs are.

The Runner's High helps me deal with the stresses and strains of life (which mostly come from my job).  It has probably be a critical factor in hanging in there, instead of resigning long ago.  When I run, I can sometimes be on a kind of autopilot, my mind is on all kinds of things but not on running.  As for running itself, it's a wonderful way of solving problems or seeking new ideas or solutions.

How long does the Runner's High last for?  Again probably extremely variable from one person to another.  For me it is generally felt immediately at the end of a run or a race, sometimes a little towards the end especially if I put my all into sprinting (as best I can) towards the finish.  The peak is about 30 minutes later and the feeling of "well being" can last several hours, sometimes even for 12 hours.

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