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What is Runner’s High? by Elaine Hirsch in Guest Articles

Guest Blog

Oftentimes athletes feel an inexplicable euphoric state when working out strenuously. While not everyone is lucky enough to experience this exhilarating rush, it is often referred to as “runner’s high” by those who have. Most people describe the same experience, but others relate some deviations from the norm.

As those who have a masters degree in medicine will tell you, a runner’s high generally occurs because exercise puts stress on the body, so the body releases chemicals to inform the brain that there is pain. The brain then releases chemicals to block the receptors from interpreting the pain. These chemicals, called endorphins, are like tiny doses of morphine, but they are many times stronger.

However, the body does not only release endorphins as a response to pain. They can also be released by eating spicy foods, laughing, panic and fear. Yet runners often feel endorphins the most during a long-distance runs or intense speed training. Some feel the high during every run, some feel it occasionally, and some never experience it. A person’s biological makeup determines if, when and how much of the chemical the brain releases.

When the brain does release endorphins, runners describe the high as total ecstasy. They feel as though they have taken a drug, and technically, they have. Endorphins can cause several effects including a physical high, an uplifting of the emotions, a change in the psyche, or any combination of these. For example, when endorphins affects the body, the body not only feels no pain, but also often doesn’t even sense the exercise. A runner may feel like they are gliding over the ground, never feeling their feet hit the pavement. Likewise, they may not feel their arms move and their breathing may seem effortless.

Along with the physical rush, endorphins can affect emotions by creating an overwhelming sense of joy. The joy can be so intense that the runner may even cry uncontrollably. The runner may also find themselves shouting out happy things to passersby in the course of their run.

Finally, a runner’s high has an impact on the mind as well. A runner may feel invincible or as though they are on top of the world and can win any competition. The effects of a runner’s high can last several days after the actual high has worn off. As a result, the runner may feel happier on a day-to-day basis, and not feel the affects of depression and other psychological disorders.

If exercisers have been doing hard workouts for quite some time and have never experienced the runner’s high, there is less of a chance that they will in the future if it’s not part of their biological make up. However, those who do experience runner’s highs, get addicted to the affect and seek it during most training sessions. To be sure, there are worse things to be addicted to than exercise and runner’s high.

Elaine Hirsch
Guest Blogger
Dragon Intuitive

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