Runners High


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I have been an avid runner since I started running in 7th grade competitively. Over the years with plenty of experience and knowledge of running I've always questioned myself and others when I've heard of runners high. It's been explained to me as a feeling you get when you're running that your on cloud 9. People who have experienced it say nothing hurts, you feel calm cool and collected. My friends who have experienced runners high claim to have run some of their fastest times during the experience and attribute the great time to the high. The thought of being almost invincible in stamina and endurance during a run makes me want to experience this feeling of the runners high even more.

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Researchers have always studied running very closely because it is a major part of almost every sport and running has been around since existence. After reading an article by the New York Times, I learned that there are no confirmed tests that could prove its existence. Often people who experience the runners high don't know what caused it or if it was even real. The NYT article explains that the hypothesis behind the theory proposed is that there are real biochemical effects of exercise on the brain. The chemicals inside the brain had the ability to completely alter the athlete's mood and emotional state because the major chemicals were endorphins. Researchers say not only is running the best way to get the feeling but it  is also the most intense way to experience the runners high.

After thirty years the mystery still is unexplained because it is not feasible to perform a spinal tap before and after some has run or exercised to look for the endorphins that flooded the brain. Many scientist and researchers claim this to be a new type of study and challenge they wish to discover and learn more about.  Every running coach I had ever had told me that running is 80% mental and I am positive that is true. If scientists were to discover how a runners high works than it would be a breakthrough in not only brain research but also in athletic performance.

I recently had my first runner's high experience during a cross country practice about two months ago. Ten minutes into the run I slowly felt myself break away from the group of runner I was running with and move up to the next group, I then passed another group and before I knew it I was running with the top three runner on the team which didn't even seem possible in my mind. I thought I would get tired after a few miles but I ended up running with them all 6 miles that day. That run was probably the best I've ever felt running because I felt like my abilities were at 110%. If people were able to control these runners high feelings the possibilities would be endless in what athletes could do on and off the field. I personally believe in the runners high after it happened to me and I love to hear when others have felt the same feeling I felt.

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Photo Source: Google Images

1 Comment

While I do not have an additional information to offer on what causes a runner's high, I can write from my own experience as a competitive long-distance runner to add credibility to your interest in the topic. I believe what we categorize as runner's high is a combination of feeling strong on that day due to proper sleep and diet, endorphins being released into the brain, and confidence in one's abilities. There are few better feelings in this world than to know you are working incredibly hard but not feeling fatigued, and there is no substitute for such a weightless and empowering feeling. I agree that learning how to control this feeling would significantly improve athletic performance, but believe that the best athletes in the world have mastered not only the physical demands of top performance but also the mental aspect of competition, including maximizing one's energy, focus, and confidence during the heat of competition. I hypothesize there is much to be discovered about what we call "runner's high", but believe the world's best athletes are mentally capable of achieving this feeling with some adrenaline and willpower.

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