I’ve had approximately 4 runner’s highs in my entire running life (about 8 years). That’s a pretty low rate – an average of one every two years! So it takes me a while to recognize one. Here are some signs I noted today:
1. Unaccountable happiness with life/smugness. As in, “Wow, this is the best running song ever! I’m so smart to have put this on my running playlist!” (Today’s best running song ever was One Night in Bangkok, for the curious…children of the 80s represent!)
2. Feeling like I could run all day and all night. Suddenly everything feels good and I feel like I could just keep running forever. This is NOT the time to make decisions at forks in the road where turning left is the standard 3.5 mile run and turning right is a 7 mile run. I tell you this from experience, for a runner’s high won’t last 7 miles.
3. Goosebumps. I notice them on my arms first, and usually I think, “That’s weird, I’m sure I’m not cold…”. I think they’re a result of a chemical reaction that’s causing the runner’s high. Adrenaline or endorphins or something. My whole body will be covered with them eventually.
Most of the stuff I’ve read on the internet about runner’s highs talk about a state that runners feel after running. I’ve never, ever gotten such a thing. Usually after finishing a run I feel a) hot, b) sweaty and c) tired. A little pleased that I did it (good girl – go me!) but not high. No, my elusive runner’s high happens while I’m running and it makes my workout AMAZING. I feel orgasmically good – running feels like the greatest thing I could ever do with my body and everything just clicks. Sometimes I get such a rush that I sprint for a while, because working hard feels SO GOOD!!
Usually it wears off after a few minutes – once I got a good 20 minutes or so out of it. And then I’m just running like normal and a little more exhausted than usual because I worked extra hard.
They’re so rare that if I was, as several articles have suggested, running because of the pay-off of a runner’s high, I would have quit long ago. I run for me, but a few minutes of euphoria is a fabulous bonus, once in a while!