Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Let's Get High

Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We have heard lots of talk about the Runners' High. Many of us like to believe that it is true. Many of us couldn't care less whether or not there is a runners' high. There is medical talk about endorphins and how it makes you feel. In reality, the runners I know just love to run. This is not to say that people that believe in the runners high are actually on something.

I recently read an article about the runners high. The actual title is called, "The Runners' High: Opioidergic Mechanisms in the Human Brain". The title alone would make one want to concede their argument and go for a run. It gets a little complicated as the researchers speak about different types of endorphins and blah, blah, blah, but the point is at the end of the journal article is that there ar significant changes in the level of euphoria for those running long distances as opposed to not.

Of course more studies need to be looked into and research, in my opinion, cannot exist without opposing viewpoint. I have always tried to convince new runners to get out there and run for two weeks or so to get the "high". Just like any other drug, once you get high, your brain begs you to get high again. Once you get on the road and you only stop running because of responsibilities or the inability to carry your body for forty miles you have probably experienced the runners' high.

Sometimes ignorance is bliss. There is a part of me that loves to believe that I have some spiritual, otherworldly, out of body connection to running. Running gets me and I get running. That is the ideal, cult in the desert mindset right? This time around science has peed in my Cheerios and said hey numnuts, it's your brain doing all of this stuff that I won't even try to pronounce or spell. 

I guess in essence it's like a drug addict trying to explain why they like to get high. Of course science will explain dopamine and serotonin but the addict will not and most likely cannot. I don't really want to think about why I love running or why it feels good. I just want to open my door and let her rip.

The other side of the coin is the question of why doesn't this work for everybody. If the feeling of getting high was consistent with running I am sure more people would do it. I don't have scientific information to back my next statement but I think people like to feel good. Perhaps the effort that one needs to put forth in order to "get high" isn't worth the price of admission. Ironically, it's pretty easy to get high on crack. All you need is $5 and a pipe and boom, you're a crackhead. To get high off of running, one needs to run a substantial amount for a considerable amount of time. The subjects in the article I read ran about 21k which is about a half marathon. Who wants to do that to get high? The funny part is, after one gets high on crack the long term effects are effectively short term death. The long term effects of the runners high is an increased life expectancy and reduced disease. 

Look, I can't really explain it but I can't stop doing it and I can't wait to do it again.

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