Have you ever experienced a Runner’s High?

I did once in high school.  I was racing the  Cross Country League Championships.  The first 15 runners across the finish line got a medal.  If I had a really good racing day (and a couple others had a bad day) I had a chance to medal.  I was going for it.

When the gun went off, I took off.  I have no memory of the first mile.  I “came to” when I heard the mile marker timers reading the time, “5:52, 5:53, 5:54….”

A sub 6:00 minute mile was not my standard in cross country.  And I have no recollection of it – just that I felt nothing, remember nothing.  I felt nothing and I was flying (for me).  I felt the rest of the race, but I still did okay.  I placed 14th and got a medal!

So how can I get another runner’s high?

First – let’s look at the definition of a runner’s high

Runner’s High

The definition of a runner’s high, according to Merriam Webster Dictionary is: a feeling of euphoria that is experienced by some individuals engaged in strenuous running and that is held to be associated with a release of endorphins by the brain

Mmmmm, Maybe…..

What is involved in a runner’s high?

1.  Norepinephrine

For a long time Endorphins were given credit for the runner’s high.  Further research has indicated that responsibility does not lie with endorphins, but with norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin – all released during exercise, also responsible for combatting depression, may also be the key to the runner’s high.

2.  Body Temperature

Some researchers are looking at the increase in body temperature associated with exercise and the appearance of the runner’s high, see here.

3. Running at a faster pace

I’ve never heard a runner’s high associated with walking, jogging, slow running.  The euphoric feeling of invincibility comes at a pretty intense level of athletic performance.  I don’t know if you can condition yourself to experience a runner’s high more often.  It has not been in my “collect miles” cards.  We will see as I add more speed to the weekly routine!

It seems everywhere I look there are different theories.  Different theories, different areas still under scrutiny and research.  One thing is for sure – it’s a real deal.  If you have experienced one you are looking everywhere trying to figure out how to do it again.  If you haven’t, you want to and are looking for the “How To…” And science is trying to help you.

Runner’s World offers some theories about the runner’s high here, looking at stimulating endorphin production and the production of Endocannabinoids.  Wikihow looks at pacing to achieve the runner’s high, found here.  The science behind the production of norepinephrine’s, dopamine and serotonin can be found here.  All may play a part in the runner’s high.  It seems lots of people are looking for information on the subject, or like me, have experienced the pain free peak performance euphoria and would like to have that runner’s experience again!

I achieved a runner’s high well towards the end of my cross country season.  I had done a lot of conditioning.  I was running very well, at the time.  I was at peak performance.  I was running on a Saturday morning, instead of at an after school meet.  I had eaten breakfast.  I was hydrated.  I was rested.  I had the basics covered – I was ready to perform!

Can I do it again?  I hope so – I will definitely let you know!