Running is the leading athletic pastime and sport or modern times with over 20 million regular participants. Leading topics of discussion in running circles will always include: What is The Runners High?
The runners high is a euphoric state that overtakes you more often than not in long distance running. This same euphoric state can actually be encountered by any exercise that stresses your body and pushes it to it’s limits. Any endurance training is well known to produce runner’s highs.
Many dedicated runners have experienced this high, a few encounter it often, fewer still seem to be able to trigger it. In my own discussions with other people who enjoy the sport, I think most people either never experience it, or fail to recognize the signs as such.
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What Does Runner’s High Feel Like?
The feelings are different for everyone, but there are common feelings that people experience when it comes. It’s difficult to trigger, and the sensations can come during or after.
Some of the most common descriptions include feelings such as:
- Unending energy
- Feelings that equate to orgasms
- Reduced anxiety
- Lighter and more agile
- Sharpened Senses
- Euphoria – Everything is perfect and nothing bad can ever happen again
- Complete calmness
- Total focus
I love the rythmatic beat of my breath and feet pounding the pavement. In fact I don’t know of anything that compares with the experience of sweat running off my brow, arms and legs pumping as I’m covering ground.
That is — except when I’m overcome with limitless energy and a sense of well being that makes movement completely effortless with no end in sight.
Is This High Only For Runners?
Because exercise of any form can quickly become drudgery, it’s hard to believe that I can find myself in this state of euphoria. The truth is: this intense feeling of well-being happens often to runners, but any vigorous workout or exercise sustained over a lengthy period of time can bring it on.
However— it’s aptly called “runners high” because, especially long distance runners seem to experience it more often than anyone else.
What Produces Runners High?
The scientific community continues an active debate as to just exactly what’s happening when these intense feelings overcome people involved in strenuous exercise. The most common explanations have to do with a rush of endorphins suddenly being released.
Most speculations include ideas about endorphins flooding the body at some point during exercise. They then interact with parts of the brain creating all kinds of positive feelings, many of them similar to what you would expect from morphine. This euphoric state of being can come at any point during running or even after a run or any other form of exercise.
There have been plenty of research and studies to support the endorphin and runners getting high theory. One German study measured endorphin levels and found them increased during running and that they directly related to each runners feelings at the time.
When Does Runner’s High Kick In?
This natural high seems to come on you when your body runs out of glycogen stored in your muscles. (Glycogen is a form of carbohydrate and energy source) It seems that when you deplete your body of this Glycogen, endorphins are released as your body changes from carbohydrates to body fat for energy to go on.
With that knowledge you could possibly trigger a high yourself during your runs. I’m not aware of a cut and dry guaranteed method of achieving it. That’s a good thing, because I would probably run myself to death with an overdose?
How To Trigger A Runners High
Getting high from running or any other exercise will happen when your brain decides you need to convert to burning body fat. When this happens your body will be flooded with “feel good” endorphins. All of this depends on your own level of fitness and endurance levels, how your own body reacts to exercise, and your mindset.
Pushing Through the Wall
It’s all about your body responding to the stress of exercise. If you’re inclined to quit when the going get’s rough, you probably won’t experience this phenomenon? So you’ll need to run to the wall of quitting right here, and push through it. This is at different endurance levels for different people, but the main thing is to work your way up to it physically and not all at once.
Routine are your enemies! The easiest thing in the world to do is get in the habit of running the same distance and looking at the same scenery day after day. However, you’ll need to learn ways to alter and avoid routine running. Change up your habits like this:
- Some easy days and some hard days
- Take different routes, looking for different terrains to run on. (uphill, downhill, flat, woods, suburbs, etc.)
- Run some days fast, and some days relaxed
Eat Right Before Running
Eating right is key to getting any positive results from any exercise program, and running is no different. Check out this article about the Best Foods To Eat Before A Workout.
In a nutshell: eat healthy foods, skipping junk foods, before a run. The other thing that is vital to your efforts is not running for at least 45 minutes to an hour after you eat.
The Runners High Is Elusive
Actually, knowing how to trigger this elation is much like knowing where the wind goes? There’s so many elements involved that it’s difficult to force it to happen. And guess what:
When you try to make it happen by making this endorphine rush the main objective of your run — it’s even more elusive. I think the main component of a trigger is simply to continue to raise your own bar, a little at the time. Forget trying to push yourself into it, and enjoy your running time.
Running Schedules Are Vital
I think the most important aspect of any good running program is a regular schedule. Try to set a time and run most days of the week. Most days is key, because you definitely want regular rest days.
Mileage may be important, but workouts are even more important. Without having regular runs that come on a schedule it’s easy for me to neglect them. So run most days, rest at least one day, and keep pounding the pavement as your body and mind expand the endurance levels.
Feelings you experience from runner’s high varies from person to person. However, almost everyone comes to a place where running is almost effortless, a feeling of limitless energy, and absence of pain. Generally you will experience this high for about twenty minutes before it begins to fade into the wind. Some people experience this during the run, or exercise, while others catch it afterwards.
These intense feelings are:
- Different for each person
- Elusive to say the least
- Experienced regularly by some runners
- Never experienced by many lifelong champions of running
Running regularly keeps me on top of my health, my blood pressure, my weight, my focus, my determination to finish what I start, my overall lifestyle. The running of itself is good enough for me if I never experience another high from it!