What is this runner’s high everyone talks about? 

I was at dinner with some friends when conversation turned to running. Someone asked me about my running. When asked, I said I had run eight marathons and hoped to run at least one more when I turn 60 – and she nodded her head knowingly saying, “Ah – that runner’s high.” And I got to thinking…

I don’t believe I’ve ever felt a runner’s high. In fact, I would have to say that many of my runs have started out utterly against my own will. I have to trick myself into running: ‘You can run the course backward – that would be fun!’ – ‘You’ll get to eat breakfast/lunch/dinner when you’re done!’ – ‘You can run the whole thing slow (nowadays that seems to be a given, though); no need to push; just a nice, relaxing run – like a day at the beach…’and so on. Sound good to you?

Most of my runs feel sloggy in the beginning, at best. Sometimes they stay sloggy – though much of the time they move into a smooth, level comfortable (with just a touch of begrudgement) stride that suffices as tolerable exertion. I rarely push myself anymore. Trails offer a wonderful distracting influence to my runs through views, wildlife, and successfully (or not) avoiding bodily injury due to roots and ruts and the like.

Perhaps, if pressed, I could say I have approached the likening of what I imagine to be a runner’s high – not while running – but after. After finishing one Boston Marathon – early on, when I finished one in a decent enough time – and told myself I would never run again!