I’m sure you heard about it long before you started running, there was some lanky guy or woman in your group of friends who would wax poetic about their awesome long run last weekend, how running helped them think through some problem they were having and the most unlikely one, how when they would run, they would achieve a runner’s high.
In my group of friends his name was Jeff and my college-self used to say, “Runner’s high you say? Tell me more!” But when Jeff explained that it came after running hills, or running a long distance or, well, just running, I would sip my beer, thank him for his story and move on to the next conversation.
Fast forward 15 years and I’m singing a different tune. If you read this space you know that I started running when I was 37 years old, I was late to the game, but when I got here, I jumped in full force. My first year of running, I got into the 2008 ING NYC Marathon and trained my heart out.
I made a ton of running friends and would meet them every weekend for long runs. And when something was bothering me, I would go for a run to work it out, if I was feeling crappy, I’d go for a run, if I was struggling with a decision, if I was fighting with a friend, if I was tired, you get the idea. I was hooked.
But then one fall morning, I was in Central Park attending the Church of the Sunday Long Run and it happened.
I had probably logged close to 1,000 miles training for the race at that point and would have the same thought every time “when does it stop sucking?!?!” – especially during long runs.
That morning, as I walked back to my apartment from Central Park I remember that the world glowed a little brighter, I was happier than I could remember being for a long time and at one point actually had to stop and hold onto a street light to stay standing.
It didn’t occur to me until after I was home, stretched, showered and met a friend for a bite out that I realized what happened.
I was brought back to that conversation with Jeff and I finally understood what he was talking about. The running high wasn’t a myth after all and if all the other benefits if running hadn’t kept me coming back, this was what sealed the deal.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it happens every time, and in fact, it is pretty rare. But it does and I chase it every time I get out there.
I’m working with CLIF to help celebrate a healthy 4/20 this year. Not only do they fuel my long runs, but they’re helping us, as a community celebrate one of the best aspects of our sport, the super healthy high.
I’d love to hear your story in the comments below, tell me about the first time you felt that endorphin rush, where you were, what you were training for?