Runner's High
What's All The Fuss About This Runners High?

runners highThe Runner's High - that feeling of being on top of the world as you run. Many runners have raved about reaching this particular euphoric state while running. But other runners can't help but wonder whether this much-acclaimed high really does exist, and if it does, how it is achieved.

I am a big fan of looking at the science behind things. Runners high is one of the cool things abour running, kind of right there in the middle between the purely psysical aspect and the mental side of running.

So here we go.

Runners High: The Scientific Explanation

Different people seem to have varying ideas about what the runner's high specifically is.

You have three main theories out there :

  • The emotional endorphine theory
  • Edocannabinoid hypothesis
  • The runners high as reward for achievement

The Emotional Endorphine Theory

Some say that it is an emotional high, caused by the achievement of something great, while some maintain that it is simply a scientific reaction that occurs in the body and is in no way related to how you perform.

The existence of this feeling is basically backed by science. This particular feeling of exhilaration is said to be caused by the increased production of endorphins in the body while a person is carrying out arduous activities.

Endorphins refer to a group of proteins that occurs naturally in the brain. They are neurotransmitters that have a direct effect on your pain sensation, mood levels, and a person's emotions. Endorphin production remains at a particular limit on a normal basis, but strenuous activities or prolonged demanding activities can cause it to shoot up, thus causing a feeling of elation in the person.

Endocannabinoid Hypothesis For Runners High

However, there is another scientific theory about the runner's high, which is the edocannabinoid hypothesis. Endocannabinoids are well-known relievers that are said to work better than opioids by acting centrally and are safer from side effects.

According to studies, endocannabinoids refines a person's movements and triggers a state of euphoria and high sensory stimulation, which is exactly what the runner's high is described as.

Runner's High: Emotional Rewards for Achievement?

A Reaction To Running Achievement

But despite the scientific proof that this feeling is simply a physical reaction of the body, it has also been claimed to be an emotional high felt by runners who have achieved their running goals.

However, supporters of the scientific explanation of the runner's high reasons that it has been deemed as such is that it only occurs when the body reaches a certain level of exertion, which is quite high and only happens when the runner goes beyond his normal level of performance.

This effect is not only felt in running; other sports such as swimming, skiing, bicycling, and many others tend to increase endorphin production and can just as easily bring about a feeling of being overjoyed.

However, despite these rational claims, a lot of experts are still studying whether the runners high is caused by physical exertion or by an emotional reaction to accomplishing a goal or a challenge, or for runners, reaching a particular distance.

In fact, several studies have been conducted to try and disprove the theory that it is only a physical reaction.

How the Runners High Feels Like

As a runner, you can easily feel a lot of things during your run. We all know this feeling - a feeliing unmistakeable on happiness and exhilaration.

During the experience, both your body and your mind are highly stimulated and some also describe it as having all your senses sharpened. However, the feeling can be rather elusive. There is no one goal that you can try to reach to experience this feeling for certain.

Reaching this particular state remains vulnerable to a lot of variables, and reaching your goals may not always equate to reaching this state.

Runner's High: Why Question a Good Thing?

However, as runners, some people find that it does not really matter where the feeling comes from. Some runners are content with experiencing the feeling, and runners high can mean different things to different runners.

Those who have experienced the feeling find it highly motivating, and they are inspired to exert themselves even more to experience the feeling again. It can be a good motivator for runners, and since it has been linked to high levels of activity, it also promotes the benefits of long distance running.

Besides, why question a good thing? What matters is that you feel your best, and it makes you enjoy the sport even more.


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