Runner’s High: What It Is and 6 Ways to Achieve It
Runner’s high is a short-lasting euphoric feeling people get after a workout. Thought to be caused by the release of endorphins, the feeling of a runner’s high can vary between people.
If you have ever had a run that left you feeling like you could conquer the world, you have felt runner’s high. Sometimes you feel like you could keep running forever. After other runs, you may not feel invincible in that regard, but you end the run super excited and wanting to share it with anyone who will listen.
What is it? How do you duplicate that feeling? Read on!
What’s a Runner’s High?
That short, euphoric feeling people get after exercising is called runner’s high. It also occurs after other forms of sustained aerobic exercise. People have held to the popular belief that this occurs because your body triggers the release of endorphins and dopamine. However, recent research actually points to something else.
Research shows that the euphoric feeling runners chase is likely caused by endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are actually substances that are naturally produced in your body that are similar to cannabis.
Your levels of endocannabinoids in the bloodstream increase due to exercise. The endocannabinoids easily move through the body, promoting the feeling of euphoria post-run.
How Do You Trigger a Runner’s High?
Are you wondering how to get runner’s high? You are not alone. Some things can increase the likelihood of you getting that euphoric state.
Technically, it happens because you have put stress on your body. In response to that stress, your neurons produce good feelings to combat what is happening to it.
- Long Workout: Statistically speaking, most runners are more likely to get their runner’s high during distance running, with runs being done at about 70-75% perceived effort.
- Moderate Intensity: Although there are many ways to get that feeling, running (biking, swimming, etc.) at a moderate intensity for a long period of time is the most common way.
- Experience Matters: Experienced runners are more likely to get the runner’s high.
- Consistent Training: The more consistently you train, the greater the likelihood you will hit the runner’s high point. This is partly because you need to be consistent to hit the long-run points.
- Jack it Up: Even though this seems to go against everything already stated, another way to get runner’s high is actually to do the complete opposite of the first two points. Get out for a shorter workout of higher intensity. That can also result in runner’s high.
- Shut Your Brain Off: Believe it or not, another way to chase the high is to zone out while running. Getting into a zone and just doing your thing can help you get that euphoric feeling.
What Does Runner’s High Feel Like?
The runner’s high can feel a lot of different ways to different athletes. For some, it is a magical sweet spot that happens at some point during the run. You can be running along doing your thing, and all of a sudden, you feel like you could go on forever. You get into a zone, find your groover and just click off the minutes and miles.
Other runners describe the feeling as effortlessness. Even if you are doing a challenging workout, you don’t feel like giving in. Rather, you feel like jacking up the effort. That is the sense of euphoria referred to as runner’s high.
It is more typical to get the feeling after the workout or effort in a short-term workout or run. In a long-distance run, it comes somewhere in the middle.
*We asked our RunnerClick writers and RunnerClick Pro members to tell us what a runner’s high feels like.
How Long Does a Runner’s High Last?
That feeling can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. It really does depend on the individual. This is one of the reasons many people give for wanting to run right after they crawl out of bed in the morning. They report that an overall feeling of happiness takes over their body.
I have to admit I do feel good when I kick start my day with a workout. However, I also find that I love a workout after a particularly stressful day at work. I often experience runner’s high when I work out to relieve tension.
Why Do Some People Not Get a Runner’s High?
Some runners go their entire lives without ever feeling a runner’s high. Some studies link people with susceptibility to anxiety and depression as being less likely to experience exercise-induced euphoria.
In addition, not everyone has the same number of mu-opioid receptors necessary to catch that feeling.
Other Psychological Advantages of Running
Although not quite runner’s high, other advantages are similar to runner’s high worth consideration and discussion.
You may find that running improves your focus and mental clarity. Another health benefit is a decrease in anxiety levels.
Some runners report improvements in feelings of depression when engaging in regular cardiovascular exercise such as running.
This is not to imply that running is a substitute for medication or mental health treatment, but it could certainly be a good supplement.
Research also shows that exercise can predict increased frequency and value of next-day positive social events. In other words, your well-being is enhanced in multiple ways when exercise is part of a person’s habits.
Should You Chase It?
If you are contemplating trying to chase a runner’s high, without a doubt, you should! Let’s face it, what have you got to lose?
If you have been running for a while, consider running longer and easier for your weekly long run. If that does not do the trick, you could work on implementing a speed workout.
One thing to understand that I am sorry to have to report is that not everyone finds that runner’s high. But doesn’t it sound worth looking for?
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