Runner’s High: How, When, and Why
August 9, 2012 1 Comment
It is a feeling like no other. I recall floating along a 6 mile run one time just about 30 years ago. I don’t have a very good memory, but I remember that run vividly. I had slipped into a zone where running was more like floating. I ran fairly fast, but felt no effort. I felt happy and my body felt happy. I was as high as a kite! I never wanted that run to end.
Although I hadn’t been smoking marijuana, the same receptor in the brain that is triggered by marijuana was, in fact, triggered during that run. I really was high. I was high on running! Until recently, many scientists actually believed that runner’s high was a myth, a self-fulling prophecy based on a misconception about endorphins. Endorphins, after all, cannot actually produce the kind of high described by runners. The scientists were right about one thing: endorphins do not cause runner’s high. Even so, runner’s high is real.
What causes runner’s high? A fatty acid called Anandamide. It triggers the same receptor in the brain that marijuana/THC triggers. Not only does anandamide make you feel high, but it also dilates your bronchial tubes and the blood vessels in your lungs. End result: you feel great, run better, and run longer.
How do you get anandamide? Run! As you run more regularly and intensely, your body tends to produce more anandamide. If you want to increase your likelihood of getting runner’s high, you run at tempo pace, just a little faster than your 10K race pace. This pace adds just enough stress to cause the body to produce anandamide but not so much stress as to overwhelm your body. It is the “just right” pace for a great workout and a trip to La-La-Land.
You can read more at Runner’s World:
Enjoy the run!!!
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