I hear it all the time; I hear runners say that they get a certain high when they run, that it’s addictive, that it’s their daily fix. I got to thinking about this because a client recently asked how she could motivate herself to run again, knowing that her years-long running sabbatical had significantly affected her former, and much faster pace. I’ve addressed the issue of motivation before, but for some reason, my thoughts drifted this time towards the “runner’s high.”
What is the runner’s high? And why do runners refer to it as if they can’t get enough of it? Because if that’s true, then maybe that’s what motivationally challenged runners are missing. A lot of runners describe it as a feeling they experience partway through a run, where the sensation of physical and mental exertion somehow diminishes and running takes on a kind of euphoric feeling. It sounds like a nice experience right? But is that what draws people back to their running shoes, day after day after day? Or is it the emotions felt at the end of a run, a different kind of runner’s high? I believe so.
When I set out to do my runs, I sometimes start them with enthusiasm, sometimes not. I always, however, have a fixed goal in mind, and even if I start out a little slow or with a negative mindset, I somehow get it together as my legs and body start to warm up. No matter how short or long, easy or intense, every run eventually turns into a mind over matter experience, where my mind takes control and influences my body to do whatever my training goals call for it to do.
As I wearily finish each run, and hit “stop” on my garmin, that is the moment that I encounter my true runner’s high. I don’t mean the feeling of triumph, though that’s part of it, but rather the residual benefits that follow. It’s as if runners have an invisible power source available only to them, a source that they earn the right to tap into it every time they finish a run.
This “power source” zaps a runner with so much positive energy that it actually has a spillover effect; you’ll recognize a person who’s high from a run because they can’t help passing their positive vibes on to those around them (word of advice however, kick them out for a run as soon as you notice the positive energy starting to wane).
Seriously though, if you’re a runner who has lost that instinct and desire to get out and run, I suggest that you start spending time in the company of other runners. Their infectious “can do” attitudes will have you lacing up your shoes in no time.