Chasing the Runner’s High

Over the weekend, I had a fantastic 9 mile run. It seemed like the stars were perfectly aligned to make this run outstanding. It was so great that I can’t even tell you why. Have you ever been in the running zone where you just GO and don’t even have any thoughts? That’s what this run was like for at least a few miles. My knee felt great. I wasn’t thinking of my ‘to-do’ list. My foot falls were rhythmic. I was just running and it felt right.

After my run, I started to think about the so called Runner’s High. We’ve all heard about it – the rush of endorphins you get while exercising. I would call my run over the weekend one of the closest things to a Runner’s High. It was damn near euphoric! Or a brilliant run since I was wearing my Mizuno’s. 😉 But anyway…

Over the last few years that I’ve been more seriously into running, I can name at least a handful of runs where I’ve felt that high. The most memorable would be during my first half marathon in 2007. At one point the race came out to the ocean. As I turned onto the road following the water, the sun came out from behind the clouds and hit me full on in the face. The water looked absolutely breathtaking as the sun made it sparkle and shine. At that point it hit me.

I‘m running a half marathon! I’m doing it!

Tears started streaming down my face. I was just so happy to be able to run, to set a goal, train for it and achieve it. Even now thinking back to that race, I get shivers.

Finishing strong! I was pretty happy I blew past those 2 other runners at the end.

The other instances also involved intense emotions. It’s always been during or after a long run that I’ve felt that high. That “It’s all good!” feeling.  When I took my month long hiatus from running due to my knee injury, I struggled with not having that feeling. Cycling or any other exercise didn’t give me that rush of endorphins and feeling of clarity. Don’t get me wrong, I felt good but not that same good. I have a friend who was a runner for years but had to stop from too many injuries who agrees with me. She turned to cycling and says that it takes much, much longer to get an equivalent high on the bike. She always tells me she would get back to running if she could in a heart beat just to get that high again.

So how do you get a Runner’s High? Is there an actual technique to achieve it? I’m Jonesing for more, man! I actually Googled it to see what came up. Surprisingly, there were no mentions of smoking weed and then running. Hahaha.  However, I did find an interesting article from Runner’s World that ran back in 2004.  According to a researcher, the best way to get it is “when you run just a little slower than your 10-K race pace, also called tempo pace.”  If you run any slower, you aren’t producing enough stress. Faster and it’s too demanding and taxing. Interesting, no? If you want to read the whole article, click HERE. I think I’ll be scheduling more tempo runs in my weekly rotation just to test the theory out and to get my fix. :)

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Question of the Day

Have you ever experienced a Runner’s High from exercise?

19 comments on “Chasing the Runner’s High

  1. I completely understand the “runner’s high”…been there and haven’t been back for a while. I had to stop running at 18 weeks pregnant and am now 27. Walking, prenatal yoga and a DVD workout I do just don’t give me that same feeling, that satisfaction. I struggled for a few weeks after I stopped running but now seem to find a little more energy (not a runner’s high) when I am more active. Sure looking forward to running again and hitting that high.
    Anna @ Piper’s Run recently posted..Prenatal Yoga 10 MinutesMy Profile

  2. I experience so much more of the “runner’s high” in the winter month’s with the cool temperatures. The heat drags me down. I have noticed that I take my longest breaks from running in the summer and that works for me. You’ve got me thinking it would be interesting to go out with the goal of achieving the high, instead of speed or easy.
    runwiki recently posted..Hello AgainMy Profile

  3. Yes! Those runs are magical when you are in the zone and experience runners high. I’m jonesing for some of that right now too!! The only that things is on the same level for me is surfing – riding and catching a wave. Granted, it often only lasts a split second before you fall but it is so worth it. I can’t even describe.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Memories Captured: KindergartenMy Profile

  4. Sounds like an amazing run! I used to think runner’s high was a big lie. Then I thought it was that “run all day long” feeling. Then I had it. I was grinning like a fool, giggling on my way home even. Sometimes I think maybe it’s just the rush of the accomplishment. But other times I definitely think it’s the endorphin rush happening. Either way, I’ll take it when I can get it 😉

  5. Before I ran for my own pleasure, I used to scoff at the runner’s high. I ended all of my runs in a very sour mood. (I still ran about 5 times a week, but it was part of my job…) But, now I’m that I’m doing it for me, I can say that I have felt it a few times. It is amazing! Even if just in my head!
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  6. Funny, I can remember a SINGLE time I felt it. It was during a SFM race and it was a tough one. I was in some pain (stress anyone?). Other times I have felt really “giddy” or “happy” or even “delirious.” But there was a single time that I felt a rush of energy.

    Maybe I need to do more intense paces.

    Congrats on the road back.
    PavementRunner recently posted..North Face 50 Mile Training: Week 4My Profile

  7. I love reading about others’ runner’s high experiences! The most amazing moment of runner’s high I have ever experienced was during a marathon when I hit the beach and started to run along the ocean! The sun, the ocean, and the thrill of running a marathon all hit me and I started to cry!! It was the most amazing feeling. I felt like I was floating!! Being a runner is the most amazing gift :)

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