Monday, July 29, 2013

Runner's High

Too good of an article not to post. I,remember feeling a bit of euphoria when i just ran straight for six minutes during my C25K program. I don't get it all the time but sometimes, yes. Enjoy......

Yes, Running Can Make You High

Filip Kwiatkowski for The New York Times

Published: March 27, 2008

THE runner’s high: Every athlete has heard of it, most seem to believe in it and many say they have experienced it. But for years scientists have reserved judgment because no rigorous test confirmed its existence.

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Exercise Test: Truth or Myth?(March 27, 2008)

Readers' Comments

"Nothing quite compares to how I feel when I finish a run: everything becomes possible, I feel great exuberance and joy, and completely and totally energized. "
Jennifer, Halifax Nova Scotia

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?

Often, those who said they experienced an intense euphoria reported that it came after an endurance event.

My friend Marian Westley said her runner’s high came at the end of a marathon, and it was paired with such volatile emotions that the sight of a puppy had the power to make her weep.

Others said they experienced a high when pushing themselves almost to the point of collapse in a short, intense effort, such as running a five-kilometer race.

But then there are those like my friend Annie Hiniker, who says that when she finishes a 5-k race, the last thing she feels is euphoric. “I feel like I want to throw up,” she said.

The runner’s-high hypothesis proposed that there were real biochemical effects of exerciseon the brain. Chemicals were released that could change an athlete’s mood, and those chemicals were endorphins, the brain’s naturally occurring opiates. Running was not the only way to get the feeling; it could also occur with most intense or endurance exercise.

The problem with the hypothesis was that it was not feasible to do a spinal tap before and after someone exercised to look for a flood of endorphins in the brain. Researchers could detect endorphins in people’s blood after a run, but those endorphins were part of the body’s stress response and could not travel from the blood to the brain. They were not responsible for elevating one’s mood. So for more than 30 years, the runner’s high remained an unproved hypothesis.

But now medical technology has caught up with exercise lore. Researchers in Germany, using advances in neuroscience, report in the current issue of the journal Cerebral Cortex that the folk belief is true: Running does elicit a flood of endorphins in the brain. The endorphins are associated with mood changes, and the more endorphins a runner’s body pumps out, the greater the effect.

Leading endorphin researchers not associated with the study said they accepted its findings.

“Impressive,” said Dr. Solomon Snyder, a neuroscience professor at Johns Hopkins and a discoverer of endorphins in the 1970’s.

“I like it,” said Huda Akil, a professor of neurosciences at the University of Michigan. “This is the first time someone took this head on. It wasn’t that the idea was not the right idea. It was that the evidence was not there.”

For athletes, the study offers a sort of vindication that runner’s high is not just a New Agey excuse for their claims of feeling good after a hard workout.

For athletes and nonathletes alike, the results are opening a new chapter in exercise science. They show that it is possible to define and measure the runner’s high and that it should be possible to figure out what brings it on. They even offer hope for those who do not enjoy exercise but do it anyway. These exercisers might learn techniques to elicit a feeling that makes working out positively addictive.

The lead researcher for the new study, Dr. Henning Boecker of the University of Bonn, said he got the idea of testing the endorphin hypothesis when he realized that methods he and others were using to study pain were directly applicable.

The idea was to use PET scans combined with recently available chemicals that reveal endorphins in the brain, to compare runners’ brains before and after a long run. If the scans showed that endorphins were being produced and were attaching themselves to areas of the brain involved with mood, that would be direct evidence for the endorphin hypothesis. And if the runners, who were not told what the study was looking for, also reported mood changes whose intensity correlated with the amount of endorphins produced, that would be another clincher for the argument.

Dr. Boecker and colleagues recruited 10 distance runners and told them they were studying opioid receptors in the brain. But the runners did not realize that the investigators were studying the release of endorphins and the runner’s high. The athletes had a PET scan before and after a two-hour run. They also took a standard psychological test that indicated their mood before and after running.

The data showed that, indeed, endorphins were produced during running and were attaching themselves to areas of the brain associated with emotions, in particular the limbic and prefrontal areas.

The limbic and prefrontal areas, Dr. Boecker said, are activated when people are involved in romantic love affairs or, he said, “when you hear music that gives you a chill of euphoria, like Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3.” The greater the euphoria the runners reported, the more endorphins in their brain.

“Some people have these really extreme experiences with very long or intensive training,” said Dr. Boecker, a casual runner and cyclist, who said he feels completely relaxed and his head is clearer after a run.

That was also what happened to the study subjects, he said: “You could really see the difference after two hours of running. You could see it in their faces.”

In a follow-up study, Dr. Boecker is investigating if running affects pain perception. “There are studies that showed enhanced pain tolerance in runners,” he said. “You have to give higher pain stimuli before they say, ‘O.K., this hurts.’ ”

And, he said, there are stories of runners who had stress fractures, even heart attacks, and kept on running.

Dr. Boecker and his colleagues have recruited 20 marathon runners and a similar number of nonathletes and are studying the perception of pain after a run, and whether there are related changes in brain scans. He is also having the subjects walk to see whether the effects, if any, are because of the intensity of the exercise.

The nonathletes can help investigators assess whether untrained people experience the same effects. Maybe one reason some people love intense exercise and others do not is that some respond with a runner’s high or changed pain perception.

Annie might question that. She loves to run, but wonders why. But her husband tells her that the look on her face when she is running is just blissful. So maybe even she gets a runner’s high.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Goal reached!

I set a goal a few weeks ago to be able to run five miles this fall. Until tonight the most I've run is four. But this evening, on the treadmill at work, it just seemed "right." The big fan was blowing the cool air right on me, no problem with my knee or ankle, so I just kept going. I actually ran five miles! And it wasn't that bad. Good actually. My average pace was 10:58, which was faster than I've ever run four miles. I think now I can legitimately call myself a runner.

5 miles, 54:52, 10:58 min/mi, July 22, 2013

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Latest run stats

4 miles, 47:15, 11:49 min/mi, July 6, 2013

3.5 miles, 40:18, 11:30 min/mi, July 8, 2013

4 miles, 45:17, 11:19 min/mi, July 10, 2013

4 miles, 44:47, 11:11 min/mi, July 13, 2013

4 miles, 44:22, 11:05 min/mi, July 15, 2013

3 miles, 32:12, 10:44 min/mi, July 17, 2013

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Running Status

I am continuing with running. I am convinced it is one of the best exercises you can do. I've worked up to four miles, but there are still some days I do less. It just depends on where I am running and how I feel that day. I'm up early today and plan to run with my young friend at the track this morning.

My schedule is to run three times a week and since I started with the C25K program in February I haven't let more than two days go by without running. I've been doing 1-2 runs a week on the treadmill at work or in town due to the heat and humidity. Yes, I have some aches and pains occasionally but I am doing my best to stretch out afterwards, and do some kind of stretching or minimal strength building on my off days. That may only consist of trying to hold a "plank" for 45-60 seconds, leg lifts, or a few repetitions with weights for my arms.

Although I didn't have much weight to lose, my legs and thighs are really toned up. The thing I notice most is I've moved my belt back four holes, about two inches. I can get into clothes that were too tight last year. My resting heart rate is down to about 56 beats per minute. It was normally in the 70's.

And, I am hooked. I love the feeling you get after a good run. It has to be that runners high. They say the thing that will keep you exercising is that you love it. I am there.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Didn't run

I wimped out. It was pouring the rain when my clock went off and I had only gotten about 4 or 5 hours sleep, so I rolled back over and went back to sleep. Yep, wimp. However, my son and daughter in law were here so I got to spend more time with my loved ones.

I also punished myself later in the day yesterday and ran 2.2 miles on a hilly trail at a local subdivision. That was tough.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Run for God 5k

I wasn't going to do any races for a while....but right now, tonight, my plans are to get up early and drive to Sweetwater in the morning, for their second annual Run for God 5k race. It is supposed to be flat and fast. I am nervous. I want to break my prior record so bad, but I am just not sure if I can. Also, I've always had to walk a bit in the 5ks and I do not want to do that. I want to run the whole thing.

So, unless it is a monsoon, which it might be, I'll be headed south early in the morning. My coach is going with me (the hubby). Wish me luck.