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Drug of Choice: 28 Runner’s High Descriptors

Posted by Jerry De Luca on Thursday, December 8, 2016

The terms “natural high” or “runner’s high” is associated with the euphoric feeling experienced when one hits the “sweet spot” during running or a very vigorous, high intensity exercise routine. Some call this high their “drug of choice”. While running produces the majority of reported highs, many fitness enthusiasts believe rigorous cardio, cross fit and resistance training can produce 50 – 75% of a runner’s high. Below are 28 vivid descriptions how it really feels from those who have reached this seemingly unattainable pinnacle.

From Quora

----“Runner’s high will generally refer to that euphoric sensation that our body gives after hard work and pain. After a longer run, I always feel like I’m floating on air. In general I just feel really happy! Runner’s high can also refer to just the simple satisfaction that you get after running, or the happiness you get as a result of the achievement of knowing you ran. For the euphoric sensation, usually it will start up around 4 miles into a run, and will last until about 1–2 hours after I finish running.”

----“On a usual day with normal mood, runner’s high for me lasts more than 4 hours. The good thing is that it motivates you to do better, push yourself, think clearly and forms a virtuous cycle that may continue for the rest of the day or even to next day.”

From Reddit

----“That intense, tingly, cold feeling that you sometimes get with music - but this was unlike anything I've ever experienced - it went on and on, and my whole body was tingling, from scalp to tips of toes.”

----“My pain goes away suddenly and I feel like I can run forever. It's a pretty cool feeling, I feel very powerful and strong.”

----“For me the pain does not go away, it just starts to be a good feeling (even though it’s painful) and my heart just goes MORE, MORE, MORE! PUSH HARDER!”

----“For me, my whole body gets tingly, running feels effortless, pace almost always goes up unconsciously, and the world slows down. Most of the time I don't feel like I'm actually making contact with the ground.”

----“A feeling of euphoria comes over me. I love what I'm doing and love everyone I see. Life and running seem incredibly profound and I grin from ear to ear.”

----“Your brain starts thinking in a different way, and you stop thinking about running at all...then you feel like you can run forever.”

----“I cry a little bit. The high is kind of a massive overload for me.”

----“For me, it just feels like I could go and go and never stop. It's so great. You just feel amazing.”

----“To me it is an overall sense of calm, like all the problems and worries of the world are gone and the only things out there are you and the road. Then during the cool down I feel as if I can accomplish anything, write a symphony, climb a mountain, whatever I want. It’s great and it’s why I am hooked on running.”

----“I'll get the runner's high after a particularly hard run. One time after a race, I was high fiving all of my team mates and hugging everyone. I couldn't stop smiling and I felt like I could go running again.”

----“Breathing is suddenly effortless and just happening in rhythm with your body, you feel your spine straighten and hold yourself up, your legs and arms get lighter, and everything feels... synced. As though up until then your various inner devices and processes were trying to match up but failing before suddenly clicking and working together.”

----“I feel really light on my feet, and it doesn't hurt anymore like no stitches and stuff. And it’s weird but I get this great sense of euphoria and get a really childish smile on my face. It's like when you fancy someone and they tell you that they like you too.”

----“I hit my stride, all the pain goes away. I feel like I am on a cloud.”

----“It was a very mellow chill type of feeling. The creative side of my brain would actually kick in and I could write poems and stuff just out of nowhere. It's what I imagine songwriters can do naturally. The opiate comparisons are correct. Since it's a release of endorphins, the same chemicals that the body produces to reduce pain in your body, and opiates are more or less a synthetic version of them. It rewards the pleasure center of your brain and then you want more.”

----“Runner’s high for me is different than many describe. It is when my brain shuts off. Literally, my mind completely escapes reality and the normal stresses of life. When this happens, all I can hear is the repeating pattern of my feet and my breathing. I think I'm hypnotized or something as I won't remember half of my run. When the run is done I feel completely renewed in a calm and peaceful way.”

----“For me it is that time when suddenly my pace gets stronger, lighter and easier even after I've been running for a while and had started to get tired - runner's high kicks in and that goes away. For me it lasts for a while even after I am done. It's a mild euphoric feeling. I find myself unable to resist smiling in the home stretch after it kicks in. After I am done I have incredible energy. It does wonders to uplift my mood. I wish it lasted for a lot longer than it did.”

----“My runners high: Everything is amazing. It includes the way my body feels (it's loving the running, the sore muscles, the sweat on my skin) as well as my outlook on life. It's like your brain is flooded with optimism and joy.”

----“I feel like a gazelle; bouncy, light and like I could run forever. I get mad philosophical and introspective too.”

----“It feels like I'm watching someone run from a first person view through an Oculus Rift.”

----“For me, it is a time warp. All of sudden I will think ‘Where am I? What just happened?’ Then I have to think back and actually remember that I did run the last five miles or whatever.”

From Class Pass

----“A feeling of complete effortlessness. You’re in your groove, and it’s almost easier to keep running rather than stop. I forget about my body and any discomfort disappears because I’m totally in my head, lost in my thoughts. It’s almost an out-of-body experience, and the closest I’ve come to it is in meditation class. You’re aware of what’s going on around you, but so present, so in the moment, that you’re just appreciating everything surrounding you and hoping it’ll last.”

----“It’s that euphoric feeling where my mind is all of a sudden significantly clearer. I feel a lot lighter emotionally — all of my worries and anxieties start to subside — and I feel instantly lighter on a physical level. It’s almost like feeling sluggish and gross, and then hitting a giant reset button. All my problems are fixed (at least until the next run!).”

----“It took me until I was 23 and in really good physical shape to get into running. I’m a teacher, so I started working out regularly with a group of women at my school. One day, I had a terrible day at work and no one could work out with me, so I went for a run. It cleared my head completely, and after that, I couldn’t get enough of running. It’s been two years now of consistent running, and almost every run I go on, I have a clear mind and extreme energy. I feel empowered and strong, and I know that’s my runner’s high — that feeling that I am driven, in control, energetic and making my body and mind stronger with each step.”

----“Running for me is what I like to call my ‘drug of choice.’ It offers me great euphoria and a pleasant feeling of accomplishment that motivates me throughout my day. On the days that I cannot get my run in early, I become tired and cranky, often leading to somewhat of a withdrawal feeling. I usually get a solid run in at some point during the day, as it’s truly become somewhat of an obsession because I’m addicted to the change in mood I get from completing my run. It’s the one thing I can honestly say that I do solely for myself, however, my family members also benefit because I am easier to live with once I have gotten my run in that day.”  

From Women’s Running              

----“Something even greater happened for me out on that day though—the release and freedom of running. The release of all this pent-up anxiety in my body that I hadn’t found an outlet for until now. When I was first diagnosed with anxiety, my doctor told me that I had high levels of adrenaline running through my body, and had I not had really low blood pressure, they likely would have put me on a beta blocker instead of an anti-anxiety medication.

“In running I had found a way to release some of that pent-up adrenaline that did not involve bringing my heart to a slower pace. I entered the house that day feeling at ease and calm, something I hadn’t felt in a very long time. I was hooked. Right then and there I knew I was onto something. Glen, my husband, could tell too. He saw a more relaxed, calm, easy wife—and he liked it.”

Bottom Line From Berkeley Wellness

“Even if you don’t experience the classic runner’s high of sheer exhilaration, exercise generally produces a sense of well being and can improve mood and sleep, among other benefits, over the long term—not to mention the physical payoffs. If you’re not getting any immediate pleasure from your workouts, however, you might try changing the intensity level to see if that makes a difference. Or try a different activity or location. Exercising outdoors on a beautiful day, for example, is more pleasurable than, say, running on a treadmill in a crowded windowless gym. Working out with a partner or in a group may also enhance your workout due to the added social benefit.”


Additional Resources   

35 Amazing Health Benefits of Running, According to Science (+10 Tips for Beginners)  https://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/health-benefits-of-running.html 

Preliminary Research: To Your Brain, A Runner’s High Looks A Lot Like Smoking Weed    http://www.popsci.com/runners-high-looks-lot-like-smoking-weed-in-brain

Surprising Way To Alleviate or Delay Parkinson’s Disease http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2015/03/surprising-way-to-alleviate-.html    

Natural High: The Effects of Exercise On Depression  http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2014/02/exercise-depression.html

Only 10 Minutes? The Fitness Claim That Delivers http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2013/12/fitness-exercise.html 



Jerry De Luca is a Christian freelance writer who loves perusing dozens of interesting and informative publications. When he finds any useful info he summarizes it, taking the main points, and creates a (hopefully) helpful blog post.


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