A Story About Runner's High

“In my imagination there is no limitation…there is no complication…there is no hesitation”

by Steena Cirves

Imagine you’re wandering around aimlessly and suddenly you stumble upon a huge, open field. This exquisite field is glowing with wild flowers, (okay okay, they are really dandelions! but wild flowers sound much more glorious!). Being the free spirit you are, you jump in instantly and start running through the field care-free. Why would you give a damn about the rest of the world? You are already in heaven…. free as a bird, practically weightless.

On the contrary, imagine waking up in a winter wonderland. At least five inches of fresh, white fluffy stuff are covering the world. Being the unstoppable runner you are, you lace and layer up to hit the streets for a long long run. As you’re running down the middle of the road (in a neon orange or yellow vest of course, safety first!), the sound of your sneakers making a soft crunch into the snow makes you grin ear to ear but you still carry on. How could you stop? You are a “RunAddict” after all.

Then, there are those magical days where you’ve gone out to do a quick and easy three miles run, but you started feeling so darn good that you doubled them effortlessly! And even at six miles, you’re not sure you really wanted to stop!

Boom Boom Pow

These are what I call “Boom Boom Pow”-runs. It’s sort of like when all the stars align perfectly for that good run. Like when you’re running in the city, you come to the intersection with stoplights and the lights turn green, just for you: ready, set, run, kill it pal! Boom Boom Pow.
These “high” moments are what keep me coming back for more. Nothing beats the sense of accomplishment after challenging yourself to break your personal record or those “stubborn” 30 seconds less pace per mile. That is what runner’s high means to me.

Yiannis Kouros, an Ultrarunning legend, wrote an article that was published in 1990 about his own version of runner’s high:
“…Some may ask why I am running such long distances. There are reasons. During the ultras I come to a point where my body is almost dead. My mind has to take leadership. When it is very hard there is a war going on between the body and the mind. If my body wins, I will have to give up; if my mind wins, I will continue. At that time I feel that I stay outside of my body. It is as if I see my body in front of me; my mind commands and my body follows. This is a very special feeling, which I like very much. . . It is a very beautiful feeling and the only time I experience my personality separate from my body, as two different things…”

Another runner had a very interesting description as well. He stated that during his last couple of miles of the Ice Age Trail run in 1994, he suddenly was unconscious of his feet touching the ground and felt that he was no longer running and that something larger than him was “running” him!
Another seasoned runner said: “I’ve been running for 25 years or so, and don’t know for sure what runner’s high is. On almost every run, and certainly the long ones, there are periods of contentment or reflection when one is on automatic pilot and the terrain goes past unnoticed. Runner’s High? I don’t know.” We can certainly answer this question on his behalf: yes, it is!

I bet you had similar experiences that at every run there are few special moments when you experienced a state of “flow”, soaring in an amazing euphoria that words cannot describe.
It’s a good idea to always reflect your on Boom Boom Pow moments. Even better, try to record them in your training log or your dairy. These beautiful moments will cheer you up during those “I didn’t run good enough” days. Yes, not every run will be a good run unfortunately. There will be those runs where your legs feel like bricks, where you stumble upon every red light imaginable, where you get passed by dozens of people, or the worst of all when, God forbids, you have to stop and walk! It happens to all of us and it is perfectly okay.

Next time you feel discouraged from a bad run, simply remind yourself of your last “high” experience.

Always cherish those magical moments and know in your heart that there will be more to come. Boom Boom Pow!

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