Thursday, June 07, 2007

Natural High

There's a natural high that I get from being active. It encompasses a feeling of euphoria where you feel on top of the world. Most of all though, you feel good about you! In that first moment, you're a bit untouchable, and after that, you're consistently positive. I don't strive to reach this point, but lately, I can't escape it and I've begun to get addicted to it. There are two specific activities that bring me to this type of euphoria. A great gym/weight-lifting workout will take me to the cusp, but it's not quite enough to get me there. Running and soccer on the other hand, take me above and beyond.

Some will refer to this natural high as a "runner's high", but you don't get the feeling only from running. Depending on who you talk to, this natural high can be explained a few ways. Wikipedia has a great explanation of endorphins and how they explain this runner's high. It "is said to occur when strenuous exercise takes a person over a threshold that activates endorphin production." Another entertaining post by an avid runner, Scott Dunlap, goes into other explanations of why we reach the runner's high. His view of the runner's high is good for a laugh as well, but also explains the feeling in laments terms. "It’s not exactly a “drunk” effect, although it does make it a bit more difficult to remember to eat/drink/take the next turn (remember – always carry a map!). I would equate it to two Red Bulls and vodka, three ibuprofen, plus a $50 winning Lotto ticket in your pocket." There is discussion as to whether this natural high actually exists, but if you've felt it, you know it does.

This natural high is different to everyone. Sarah Willett has an excellent research paper deducing exactly "What is runner's high?". Definitely take a moment to read it. I spent Tuesday night talking to a slightly intoxicated friend about her first marathon. She has never been a runner and since she completed the 26.2 miles, she's been on cloud nine. This is what I would call a natural high. You have a sense of accomplishment at the same time as this euphoric feeling during the actual run. Combined, it is a wealth of positive seeping out your pours. Most people dislike running, which is sad because the benefits are vast, however I will admit the hardship it can have on the knees. If you can reach that threshold of sticking with running, it becomes easier. With ease, you start to feel you can push yourself. As you push the threshold, you'll know exactly what I've been talking about, runner's high. After that, the addiction takes over and you can't get enough. This is my current path.

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