Thursday, March 27, 2008

Atleast My Addiction is Socially Acceptable

The New York Times ran an article today about the elusive Runner's High. It coincided nicely with a ran I just completed - 5 miles of trail in 41:48. That's another blistering pace for me, and it comes on the heels of a sprint workout last night up a hill by the Warner Brothers lot.

I'm proud of the laps (mile times) I maintained throughout the evening. I almost got a negative split too (only 5 second off).

Mile 1 - 8:21
Mile 2 - 8:14
Mile 3 - 8:32
Mile 4 - 8:21
Mile 5 - 8:19

In the everlasting search for irony in the world, I find that the lower my energy throughout the day, the better my runs are that follow. For instance, work the past two days has been deadly slow. Molasses slow. Traffic at the 101/405 interchange slow. I've taken to reading Shakespeare (Macbeth and King Lear thus far), but that does little to keep my brain awake. I feel low, dull drummed and not ready to race. So heading out onto the trail at 6:45pm tonight, I was surprised to find a kick in my step. The frustration of work (the lack of, that is) and the tiredness of sitting around all day drained out of me after the first quarter mile.

I think I can attest to the runner's high experience. It's a shot of power and energy, a blanket of clear thinking and visualization that sets over you during a really good workout. For me, the high comes on hard runs, when I am pushing myself out of my marathon pace and into a 5K race pace or faster. According to the article, written by Gina Kolata (...if you like Gina Kolatas... Getting caught in the rain... If you're not into yoga...if you have half a brain):

Yes, some people reported that they felt so good when they exercised that it was as if they had taken mood-altering drugs. But was that feeling real or just a delusion? And even if it was real, what was the feeling supposed to be, and what caused it?

Some who said they had experienced a runner’s high said it was uncommon. They might feel relaxed or at peace after exercising, but only occasionally did they feel euphoric. Was the calmness itself a runner’s high?

I'd say it's the mid-run rush, cautiously realizing that you feel invincible AND the calmness and clarity of your thinking that follows that run. It lasts an hour or two, maybe. I'm still just coming down from it (and starving, by the way - no dinner yet!). With my marathons, the high lasts for days - but I suppose that is made up of much more.

Regardless, I am not ashamed to say, "Hi, my name is Emily and I'm an addict". And I welcome the choruses of greetings back at me, because while a dedication to exercise can lead to obsession and unhealthy habits, if you are able to find that balance, incorporate positive fitness habits and improve your healthy, then by all means, chasing that high is a hell of a hobby.

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