I run a lot. I’m also generally around people who run a lot. Since I’ve started running and have listened to people talk about running, and have thumbed through my fair share of running posts online and running articles, I’ve heard a phrase come up really often: the runner’s high. I’m pretty sure it’s a fairly ubiquitous phrase across athletics, I’ve heard it referenced in tons of places. It’s also lovingly represented in this picture of a lady on the beach with a pronounced forefoot strike:
The runner’s high is a flood of endorphins to the brain that triggers positive mood change and good vibrations. It’s also been scientifically confirmed, so it’s much more then simply a term. Regardless, I don’t think I have ever experienced it. I’ve heard people say they get an overwhelming emotional rush, that they suddenly feel incredibly positive during their runs, or that they get the high at the end of a race when they’ve pushed their body close to the limit. Personally, when I get done with a race I feel like I want to die more often then not. As for runs, I can’t remember ever feeling a rush of happiness.
In the best runs I have, I usually zone out and forget I’m running. It’s an effortless, automatic feeling where I come out of daydreaming and back into the real world and realize that 20 minutes have gone by. When I’m finished, I feel satisfied and my muscles feel better and I walk away with my body telling me that I’ve done something worthwhile. While very pleasant, I wouldn’t exactly call any of those things a ‘high’.
Of course, I most likely have experienced the runner’s high and just haven’t realized it. I enjoy running and feel good after I do it and generally get a little antsy if I have to take a day off. These signs could potentially make me mildly addicted, and that mild addiction is probably the product of endorphins. I’m not sure if people are exaggerating what a runner’s high actually feels like and I’m looking for something that isn’t there, or if some people just experience it more strongly than others, but I still don’t really understand it.