Runners often discuss the runner’s high which can occur during or after a long or intense run. It is whispered about on long training runs, mentioned during any talk of marathons, and often seen as a myth. It is a real thing though, thanks to your brain.
What is the runner’s high?
Your brain releases chemicals called endorphins that get released into your body that will help with that feel-good feeling.
It can be a brief feeling of elation or a longer period of euphoria, usually followed by a deep state of relaxation. Many runners agree that this is the best part of the run and it’s something that most of them try to aim for. It can also help spur runners on to get through a particularly tough bit of the run.
Runners that get into a comfortable run where they may not be pushing themselves too hard, will not feel that euphoria and are more likely to feel every niggle and bit of pain.
It is commonly known as runner’s high but it can happen during any continuous, strenuous exercise that you do.
Why does it happen?
When you run and hit a certain point in your stride, then endorphins begin to be released by your nervous system. Your brain sends messages through your nervous system which in turn sends them around the body. Endorphins help to reduce anxiety, stress and can suppress pain. It can occur after the run but some runners have said that it happens during a run and can last a couple of miles or be very brief and gone in a flash. However, the endorphins still rush around our body helping us to keep going and any anxiety and pain are still being suppressed.
Endorphins or Endocannabinoids?
After some recent research, it is now thought that endorphins don’t play as big a role as previously thought. There is a new molecule on the block called endocannabinoids which use the endocannabinoids system and are also stimulated by THC, the active compound in cannabis.
Research is still ongoing and there is not enough to confirm whether endocannabinoids do play more of a role in the runner’s high than endorphins.
Find out more about endorphins and endocannabinoids and all about running in our other blogs