If you’re a runner, you may have experienced the elated feeling known as “runner’s high,” but if you haven’t, there are ways to encourage it.
In fact, experts aren’t completely sure what causes this experience. Below, you’ll learn about what runner’s high is and how you can achieve it while running.
What is Runner’s High?
While individual runners will describe runner’s high differently, it’s commonly associated with feelings of invincibility and euphoria and usually kicks in during your run. During runner’s high, it’s also common to experience a reduction in any discomfort or pain you may have been feeling and to lose track of time so that even a long run doesn’t feel as endless and grueling.
The Chemistry of Runner’s High
While researchers used to attribute runner’s high to endorphins, the chemicals that give us a sense of well being during physical exercise, scientists now believe that different chemicals, called endocannabinoids, are responsible. They theorize that these chemicals evolved because of evolution, as a way to make physical activity more tolerable in the past when we had to run to find food and escape predators.
How to Achieve Runner’s High
Runner’s high is most commonly achieved during a long, continuous, moderate-intensity workout. You should run for at least one hour on a treadmill to experience it, but two hours is even better. In fact, the longer you run, the more likely you are to achieve runner’s high.
Intensity is also important. Running at a moderate intensity maximizes brain flow and is most likely to activate endocannabinoid receptors. If you work out too intensely, blood flow and stimulation in your brain will actually be reduced as the brain tries to protect itself, while running at a low intensity won’t stimulate the receptors at all.
Try to achieve a heart rate that is elevated but that you can sustain. If you had to rate your exertion level on a 1 to 10 scale, strive for a 6.
The Benefits of Experience
Experienced runners are more likely to experience runner’s high, which is unfortunate for beginners who are struggling to run short distances of one to two miles. Keep in mind that if you keep at it, you’re more likely to experience runner’s high in a few months when you’re in better running shape and can run for longer. That can help you stay motivated and challenge yourself to go further.
Even if you are experienced, remember that it’s unlikely that you’ll feel runner’s high during every run. Your intensity level, weather conditions, and stress level all play a part in creating runner’s high and in order to experience it you’ll need to have these elements in the right combination.
Other Workouts That Produce a “High”
Swimming, biking, and other forms of regular exercise can also produce a high when you do them at a moderate intensity over a long time period. So if you aren’t a runner, take heart and find a different aerobic workout you love and that makes you feel great.
Now that you’ve learned how runner’s high works and how you can achieve it during your treadmill run, download our monthly promotion and save on fitness equipment for runners.