Friday, November 12, 2010

Runner's High

Ah, runner's high.  Anyone who has gone on a long and/or strenuous run knows exactly what I'm talking about.  It's that floaty and light-headed feeling you get right after you finish a hard run.  You feel bubbly and light, with a hint of euphoria floating around in your head.  It feels great and is an incredibly rewarding way to end a long period of heavy exertion.

Essentially what is happening is that your body is releasing endorphins, which are like a natural heroine, and actually is very similar in chemical structure.  The body releases endorphins as one approaches their physical limit, and it allows one to continue of for a bit longer.  The endorphins latch themselves to the brain's opioid receptors in the brain, which is the same place that heroin/morphine/opium latches to to get you high, as the name implies.  I typically only feel the endorphin rush after I completely stop running, at which point it hits me all at once, and I usually have to sit down or at least lean on something.  Prior to this point, I'm assuming that the endorphin release is just keeping me going rather than doping me up, but don't quote me on that - I have no sort of evidence to back this up.
A nerve synapse.  This is actually from a drug abuse site, showing how opiates travel through the nervous system.  Just pretend those balls are endorphins rather than opiates.
Anyways, the reason I'm making this particular post about runner's high is that I had a really good one after my run on Tuesday.  Usually I don't get it as much for pre-season "staying-in-shape" runs, which are typically long and relatively slow.  Lately, however, I've been running a lot faster for these runs, which I just start doing subconsciously when running with my iPod (which I just started doing).  I had to lay down after my run and the effect stayed for a good 5 minutes or so.  And no, I'm not some "running junkie."  There are far easier ways of getting a rush than by running - I wouldn't be a runner if that was my only reason.

4 comments:

  1. I certainly don't run because of just that, because I only experienced it once. I just love to run. Take care.

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  2. That's unfortunate about only getting it once. And I don't either, lol.

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  3. Great read. Very cool. It's that feeling that keeps me coming back. It literally is a drug.

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  4. Haha, nice Mike! And then there's those of use who are indeed running junkies... :p

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