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Have you ever felt like you could run forever? -Like your legs are on auto-pilot while your mind disassociates from your body. You attain a higher mental state where your thoughts become clear and contemplative and the miles seem to wiz by. This is known as the runner’s high.
Many runner’s have experienced it.
Some doubt it. . .
But I’m here to tell you that it is real.
It is scientific.
And it is awesome!
Wikipedia defines the runner’s high as the “production of endorphins that occurs during strenuous exercise, endorphins attach themselves to areas of the brain associated with emotions (limbic system and prefrontal cortex); endorphins can also be related to relaxation and pain relief.
Webster’s 1978 Dictionary defines it as “a feeling of euphoria that is experienced by some individuals engaged in strenuous running and that is held to be associated with a release of endorphins in the brain.”
An article in the NY Times described it well. “Every athlete has heard of it, most seem to believe in it and many say they have experienced it.”
Yiannis Kouros who could be classified as a legend in the world of Ultra running once explained what he was feeling when he was running. In an article he wrote published by Ultrarunning magazine in March of 1990 he stated,
“Some may ask why I am running such long distances. There are reasons. During the ultras I come to a point where my body is almost dead. My mind has to take leadership. When it is very hard there is a war going on between the body and the mind. If my body wins, I will have to give up; if my mind wins, I will continue. At that time I feel that I stay outside of my body. It is as if I see my body in front of me; my mind commands and my body follows. This is a very special feeling, which I like very much. . . It is a very beautiful feeling and the only time I experience my personality separate from my body, as two different things.”
When a person first starts their running journey the body often associates running with an unpleasant experience. You may have to force yourself out to run and drag yourself through the entire workout.
There may come a point though when your mind and body start to crave the running experience. Does the mind become dependent on running or does the body form the dependence? The answer may be both. A person may even get to the point where for all medical purposes they are addicted to running.
Recently I’ve had to step back from my normal running routine because of knee pain related to my pregnancy. I’ve noticed some depression-like symptoms and feel a sense of loss in my life. I know logically that I haven’t lost running forever, but the reality that I can’t run without pain right now is hard to accept. I guess I understand the way the runner’s high has played a part in my life and I can’t wait to get it back.
Also Mentioned in this Episode
- RunKeeper – iPhone app for runners
- Team in Training – a way for you to use your marathon to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
- The Lore of Running by Dr. Tim Noakes -a very technical and comprehensive handbook for runners
P.S.Once you’ve experienced the runner’s high it can turn a grueling run into a mountain top experience. Happy running!