“You run? Like for fun? I don’t know how you do it bro.”
This is a pretty typical reaction runners get form outsiders. By outsiders, we mean those that don’t understand our obsession; those that don’t drink the kool-aid in the form of a 6 a.m. run on a Sunday morning. Runner’s high? More like runner’s ecstasy. Even if our day is completely messed up, hey – at least we had a good run!
We know, it seems crazy. But a lot of us would feel crazy without it.
I totally get the bewilderment spurred by a runner raving about running. The only way to understand our passion is to run a few miles in a runner’s shoes – that is, take the time to get comfortable and actually enjoy it. Not just struggling through a few miles until you swear off running forever. You have to push past the these-people-are-insane-i-hate-this plateau and break free into a runner’s paradise. That’s where the mental, physical and spiritual fruits are there for the pickin’.
Of course, my opinion is a bit biased. But there’s plenty of experts that proudly laud the benefits of hitting the pavement, trails or treadmill a few times a week. I’m currently in training for my first marathon (eek!) and am stoked to post some pro-running love. Here’s why running at least deserves a decent shot:
According to sources like Livestrong, Acitve.com and Women’s Health, running touts plentiful physical pro’s. Naturally, running does torch some calories (about 100/mile for a 150 lb. person) and builds up lean muscle mass, which spikes your resting metabolic rate. The more muscle mass you have, the more you burn when you’re not working out – even when you’re sleeping!
Racking up a few miles is a great tool for weight loss, plus it improves your physical health on several over fronts. It can boost good cholesterol and immune system function, improve lung function, and slash your risk of having a stroke, developing blood clots, and developing breast cancer in women. Hitting the pavement also strengthens and helps the heart’s elasticity, reducing the risk of heart attack.
Like all exercise, running increases endorphins in the brain, and endorphins make you happy (as anyone who’s ever watched Legally Blonde will never forget.) Research shows that running can also aid in increased confidence, stress relief, a better attitude, and boosted self-esteem.
The Science Behind a Runner’s High (yes, it is legit)
As a runner, I can promise you that a runner’s high is totally, legitimately real. In fact, it’s kind of unreal – through some of the toughest runs of my life I’ve had the best runner’s high. It’s a sudden, somewhat euphoric feeling that I pushed past that last mile or plateau. I did this, I earned this feeling, and I can only thank myself for being such a badass. It feels like, at least in the moment, I could conquer the world if I really wanted to.
A lot of people negate the idea that a runner’s high is possible. The toally credible WebMD, though, cites Jesse Pittsley, PhD, president of the American Society for Exercise Physiologists, and his medical opinion on a runner’s high. He stated:
“Psychologically, runners may experience euphoria, a feeling of being invincible, a reduced state of discomfort or pain, and even a loss in sense of time while running,”
Sadly, experts havent’ managed to put a finger on the exact reason behind the high, but it’s believed to be a mix of endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and elevated body temperature.
What makes you love running?