What is runner’s high?

Oddly enough, I was actually thinking about this morning while I was running a long route of near 10k. Talking with Corinna about it, we couldn’t come up with a good understanding of what “runner’s high” is exactly.

I get the concept. It implies pretty much what it means, but I ventured to good ol’ Wikipedia to see what I could dig up. This is actually apart of the article for endorphin, the naturally occurring chemical in your body that is responsible for getting you “high”.

Another widely publicized effect of endorphin production is the so-called “runner’s high”, which is said to occur when strenuous exercise takes a person over a threshold that activates endorphin production. Endorphins are released during long, continuous workouts, when the level of intensity is between moderate and high, and breathing is difficult. This also corresponds with the time that muscles use up their stored glycogen and begin functioning with only oxygen. Workouts that are most likely to produce endorphins include running, swimming, cross-country skiing, long distance rowing, bicycling, weight lifting, aerobics, or playing a sport such as basketball, football(soccer), or American football. [wiki]

Ok, being the good neuroscience student that I was in college, I get what it is now. What I don’t know is if I’ve ever had it or what it’s like when you obtain this state of foot pounding zen.

The only thing I can think of coming close to this is not feeling the soreness in my legs as I start out compared to being twenty minutes into a route. To me, that’s just a sign of muscles loosening and warming up. Been doing a bit of swimming in the last few days, and I try to do some lunges and squats in between running days for a bit of resistance training. Even after running, I stretch out to prevent stiffness.

Runner’s high is said to make you not feel pain because, chemically, that’s what endorphins are designed to do. I’m just a little lost as to if I should be feeling happy, running faster, or having some sort of vision of colors, a la Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey[imdb]. I just don’t know what it actually feels like.

You have to have a mind of a goalie

This is a combination of two things that I find incredible interesting: hockey and neuroscience. Sounds strange, but my course of study in college was neuropsychology. I also played goalie in various rollerhockey tournaments on campus, so it kind of all makes sense, right?

It would seem that not only do you have to be physically fit to be a good goalie, but being cognitively fit is an added bonus.

Researchers at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Kinesiology may have found the secret to highlight-reel goaltending with their comprehensive, on-ice hockey study on where elite goalies focus their eyes to make those dynamic blocker, glove and pad saves.

In a study to be published in the medical journal Human Movement Science, graduate student Derek Panchuk and professor Joan Vickers, who discovered the “Quiet Eye” phenomenon, found that the best goaltenders rest their gaze directly on the puck and the shooter’s stick almost a full second before the shot is released.

When they do that, they make the save over 75 per cent of the time.

“Looking at the puck seems fairly obvious,” Panchuk said, “until you look at the eye movements of novice goaltenders, who scatter their gaze all over the place and have a much lower save percentage than the elite goalies.” […]

“Goalies often focus on physical things like improving technique but they overlook the decision making — the cognitive side of things,” Panchuk said.

“I think this study shows that you also need to focus on your decision making and your thinking processes. Having optimal focus is just as important as being in optimal physical shape.” [cbc]

This also brings up the classic argument of nature versus nurture. It’s only logical to think that certain people are going to be born with traits that allow them to do this easier than others, but I’ve read enough studies to understand that the ability to train your brain for tasks like this is very possible. For some, this can be easier than others. It also makes me wonder if there is a correlation between goalies who play in college and their GPA.

More importantly, who did they use for this study? I would love to see how Luongo would test on this.  All I do know is that when I finally started wearing contacts instead of glasses under my mask, my save percentage went up considerably.  Keeping an eye on the puck is all I would ever do.

Reading spam in the newspapers

I had to take a second look when I caught this headline. First off, this was in the Globe and Mail, not in some spam from my email inbox. Secondly, it reads like spam from my email inbox.

Researchers say new drug helps prevent premature ejaculation

Canadian Press

TORONTO — A short-acting version of a drug used to treat depression helps alleviate premature ejaculation in those severely affected by the condition, improving sexual satisfaction for both the men and their female partners, U.S. researchers say.

Their multicentre study of more than 2,600 men with the problem found the experimental drug dapoxetine increased time before ejaculation during sexual intercourse by three to four times, depending on the dose.

Dapoxetine belongs to a class of drugs known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are widely prescribed for depression and include such brand names as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft. Dapoxetine was specifically developed for premature ejaculation, based on a side-effect of delayed ejaculation associated with its longer-acting SSRI cousins. [globeandmail]

Being that there are not any gross errors in spelling, this seems to be a legit article.

On another note, I find it very interesting that the drug that treats this closely related to anti-depressants. If you catch any commercial about any of these drugs, “sexual side effects” is always a common thing that you’ll hear that announcer voice mention. This is one of those effects, and yes, there are more. It just depends on the person.

It would seem natural to harvest this side effect to “cure this problem” among men, but let me get this straight. You’re going to pay money to take a pill that will help you get a few more minutes of “joy” in your bedroom experience? Seems a bit odd to me, but I bet they’ll make a good amount of money off of it.

That’s the other side of the argument, based on what the article sited as “utopia” for an additional one or two minutes of bliss. People leading the study hope that this ends up having a Viagra-effect, and I doubt that really has anything to do with fighting this long time affliction that humanity has been battling tooth and nail over. It’s all about making money. Apparently curing cancer or AIDS doesn’t have the same appeal.