Runner’s ‘High’

Posted in Running at 7:04 am by Marion

A few words this morning from Fiction Dailyland … I’ve missed writing for the past few weeks, but there’s no doubt it’s been a busy, fun time so far.

Regular readers know that I currently am running for City Council here in Greenville, to represent District 3. It’s been a steady stream of meetings, planning, letters and spreadsheets, but I’m on my way.

I came across an article today about running. A new study has shown that the Runner’s High we love so much is a real phenomenon, and its effects may equal those of opiates.

‘Runner’s high’ can turn into a real addiction

Study finds brain chemicals that mimic same sense of euphoria in opiate use

By Dan Peterson
updated 7:59 p.m. ET, Wed., Aug 26, 2009

Just as there is the endorphin rush of a “runner’s high,” there can also be the valley of despair when something prevents avid runners from getting their daily fix of miles.

Now, researchers at Tufts University may have confirmed this addiction by showing that an intense running regimen in rats can release brain chemicals that mimic the same sense of euphoria as opiate use. They propose that moderate exercise could be a “substitute drug” for human heroin and morphine addicts.

Given all of the benefits of exercise, many people commit to an active running routine. Somewhere during a longer, more intense run when stored glycogen is depleted, the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus release endorphins that can provide that “second wind” that keeps a runner going.

Little to add here except that I can leave the house feeling tired, old, hollowed out and ready for my rocking chair … have a big run (I favor seven miles, though slowly) … and return home ready to take on the entire world.

Yet running is not easy, at least when I head out the door. There’s heat in summer, rain, cold, high grass and ice; cars and bugs. Yet if I can stay with it for 30 minutes, that’s when the rewards usually start: the great feeling of elation, dare I say transcendence, that begins.

Of course, after an hour in the heat, when I find myself with goose bumps and skirting heat stroke, I wonder how I’m going to get home. That’s when I remember why I’m doing it: The rewards are always more than the effort. And the effort is simple: One foot in front of the other.

Happy Trails!!


  1. Gene-o said,

    August 28, 2009 at 7:46 am

    Hello, FD! Read this post yesterday morning after returning from a speedy, sweaty six-miler to Duke Chapel and back. Recently read an interview with a professional runner who said that in these steamy days of summer, you shouldn’t worry about improving your time … just get out there and put in your miles. It helped me to know that I’m not the only one who slogs the distance when the relative humidity is at 93 percent. Plus, cooler weather coming soon!

  2. Marion said,

    August 28, 2009 at 8:42 am

    This summer has been my worst to date for running … just haven’t been able to muster the strength lately. How inspiring to hear about your six-miler, and to Duke — what a beautiful campus … except that it’s Duke!! (Just kidding!!)

  3. Gene-o said,

    August 28, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Don’t you even start!

    Here’s the fact: UNC and Duke are both great schools with beautiful campuses, phenomenally gifted students, and extraordinary instructors, administrators and alumni. Whatever your primary allegiance, you can love, admire and respect both equally.

    That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

  4. Marion said,

    August 29, 2009 at 8:02 am

    Oh my!! Can of worms opened!! You’re an admirably fair minded person & YT pales in comparison. Just a gal trying to have a little Duke-hatin’ fun …