runner's high (Merriam – Webster) noun
Definition of RUNNER'S HIGH: a feeling of euphoria that is experienced by some individuals engaged in strenuous running and that is held to be associated with a release of endorphins by the brain.
Over the last year friends have been telling me I could run and complete a half marathon. I quickly downplayed the idea thinking that there is no way I could run more than the distance of a 5k (3.1 miles). After successfully running an 8k last year, I started to slightly consider increasing the distance of my runs. I got to the point in my regular training, prior to half marathon training, where 4 miles was consistently comfortable for me. I figured I will never know if I could do it or not if I didn’t actually try. Up until last weekend, the furthest distance I have ever, ever, ever ran was 7 miles through Washington DC, which oddly enough was the first day of my half marathon training – start strong right?
As I have mentioned in previous posts, the recent winter here in Virginia was brutal. There were days and days of grey skies and literally sub zero temperatures. I desperately wanted to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin and run without layers of dry-wick fabric to keep me warm. Well, this past Sunday, Mother Nature smiled down and the day I had been waiting for for months came to fruition!
I have made quite a few friends through running and this day was the day I had planned to run with Lauren. Lauren and I set out on our run and kept saying how great the temperature was and how great it felt to be running. The goal was to run at least 6 miles, per my Hal Higdon half marathon novice training plan. I doubt we stopped talking for much of the first 6 miles. It’s amazing how fast time flies when you are running with a friend and totally distracted by what you are actually doing. We got to 6 miles and I was feeling slightly fatigued but by no means exhausted. There were moments we had to walk through the piles of snow and huge puddles to get to the other side – today’s goal was distance not speed. Lauren told me to not look at my watch, put my headphones in and let’s just run. I didn’t argue as we entered the parking lot where I have often done my Yasso 800m runs. I know this area and there were no unknowns of what was laying ahead. I was feeling really good. My legs were barely tired. My heart and lungs were doing what they should and I hear Lauren say “do you realize you are running sub 10 min mile pace right now?” I couldn’t believe it! A comfortable pace for me when I start running is between 10:30 – 11 min pace. We had already run 6.5 miles and my legs were on fire…in a good way. I can’t even put into words what I felt right then – part euphoria and part pure amazement of what my body was doing! I was moving effortlessly and it felt amazing!!
Now, I have experienced mania at least one time in my life that I can pinpoint. I went without sleep for 72 consecutive hours. During this time, I was up early to exercise, worked a full and productive day in the office, didn’t sleep during the evening and did that exact thing for 3 days in a row. During this time I felt out of control but I couldn’t stop. My brain was in overdrive and unfortunately I ended that 72 hours with the worst depression I have ever experienced and even having suicidal thoughts. It was after this experience in 2012 that I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.
This was not what I felt during the “runners high” I experienced this past weekend. I was 100% in control of my mind and body. It was a natural high caused by the release of endorphins and I felt amazing and proud that my body was doing what it was doing. I have run over 60 miles for this half marathon involving many hours of running and cross training. I worked for this moment and my hard work was on display.
Sadly, this feeling doesn’t happen at every run or even on race day but that’s why it means so much when it does happen. Coincidently, two days later I ran some of the exact same route sans snow banks and puddles and it was pitiful. I didn’t eat enough before I left so 3.1 miles was all I had in me. I literally walked 2 miles because I had to get home somehow and running lightheaded wasn’t a great idea. At first I was ticked at myself for “wasting” a training run but then I realized that not every run is going to be earth shattering and that’s okay. I’ll plan better next time.
***There's still time to join Annie's team on Crowdrise! Jenn is being brave and has signed up to run her very first 8k! Join us by running and/or donating! Anyone who signs up and raises a minimum of $100 will get a #running4brave performance tee shirt! We're nearly 50% to goal!!!***