Running high | AspenTimes.com
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Running high

Tim Dudley

Whoever came up with the term runner’s high must have been stoned.Athletes often describe some kind of unexpected euphoria that sets in while running for extended periods. The feeling is said to be better than the high from any drug, but the middle of a long run usually feels more like a hangover to me.I’ve tried – no marathons, but they say 30-45 minutes of strenuous exercise is all it takes – but it never comes. I can achieve a better buzz from inhaling the funk in my sneakers afterward.Sometimes it seems close. Some describe the high as a sense of self-satisfaction, and running often makes me feel good and energized the rest of the day. Some say it’s an increased appreciation for nature, and I always think the trees and flowers along the way look pretty cool. Some say it’s a transcendence of time and space, and I almost passed out once. But the perceived invincibility, the orgasm remain unattained. A buzz? Maybe. But never runner’s high.The concept remains elusive to scientists, too. The term, popularized during the ’70s running craze, lacks a clear definition and has yet to be scientifically proven. Many doubt it exists.Some research points to chemicals such as endorphin, which alters the brain’s sense of pain and is released during physical stress. But it has not been proven to induce any sort of euphoria during exercise.And recent studies at Georgia Tech and the University of California, Irvine, propose runner’s high is exactly that, an altered state brought on by the release of natural cannabinoids, a chemical similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. This anandamide is also activated by stress and exercise. But apparently not in everyone. Or at least not enough.So I’ll keep running without the high, without the euphoria. But not that far and not too often – I’ve heard it’s hard on your joints.


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