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.