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By Ryan Noel-Hodge February 17, 2009

Running High: A Runner’s Rendition

On a Saturday morning mid-February last winter I woke up at six am to meet two fellow runners an hour later. Like every other Saturday that winter at that particular time, the notion of 'morning' did not apply. It was choking dark, inside and out, and making my way to the bathroom was always a dangerous part of my day. That morning I remember tying my laces and putting on the same pair of thin spandex and windbreaker jacket that I had worn and rinsed the previous day, without even checking the weather, because I didn't need 'The Weather Network' to tell me that it was cold. I recall stepping outside and feeling the cold air harden my clothes, I can remember breathing and thinking that the darkness of the early morning will take over that breath, and every breath thereafter. Standing outside of my apartment just moments before commencing my run was the worst feeling. It was always a transitional phase, the moment between standing still and then entering into movement which wouldn't stop for another sixty five minutes or so. It's the feeling you get just before falling, it's where your body and gravity haven't come to a conclusion yet.

As I started out on that particular run I felt as if every element was trying to stop me. Ice covered the sidewalks so I promptly and delicately tip-toed over them. Snow tried to slow me, so I ploughed through it. Hot air from within the metros gushed out of the doors, teasing me, but I overcame temptation. Running that morning was more than just stride after stride, it was comfortable and it was where I belonged.

 As I arrived at the meeting spot, directly in the middle of two intersecting boulevards, on top of a hardened snow bank, I felt exhilarated. Perched on that snow bank I felt like I was on top of the world, a king overlooking his realm which was silent and still asleep. When my fellows arrived we took off instantly towards the mountain that waited for us. By then, I remember snow falling and making it difficult to see, so my face grimaced into a very intense permanent smile. I remember as my friends and I made our way towards the road to the summit we all realised at the same moment that we would be the first to explore this new snow-white world, post-blizzard. We shouted, we sped up, we crashed and dove into the snow, and it was perfect. It was quiet and we killed the silence. The trees stood still, laden with snow so we shook them. That morning wasn't just an easy ten kilometres; it was a full-out intense dynamic activity that turned you into an animal that wished to stay in perpetual movement no matter the direction. That morning was a good morning, it was a high morning, it was a morning where people could be broken, and runners would be made. That morning I was undoubtedly on what some people call 'the runners high'.

The 'runners high' is characterized by an exhilarating feeling of euphoria. Experiences vary from individual to individual but all runners can relate to a similar feeling of ecstasy and jubilation. Others recount feeling utterly calm and serene when they experience the runner`s high. Most believe that the 'high' is caused by a peak in endorphin production in the brain in response to the stress the body is experiencing during a run. The surge of endorphins into the blood stream blocks pain receptors in the nervous systems to halt pain signals being sent to the brain. What results is a feeling of utter control and power over one's body and enables the individual to maintain the run. It has been found that different people have different barriers to reach before basking in the euphoria. Some individuals need to exercise for an hour, some for only twenty minutes, others still, the poor souls, may not even be capable of the experience. As for myself, running is like breakfast; it's essential. I hope that some who read this may feel the same way, and then we might be able to get high together some time, whatever the case, happy runnins'.

Further Reading:
Yes, Running Can Make You High


Photo by Hernan Pinera


  1. space-default-avatar


    February 21, 2013

    I will surely follow this strategies .


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