A Good Run

Posted: April 13th, 2010 under health, psychology.
Tags: , , , ,

Running ShoesI decided to go running this morning. I haven’t been for about two and a half years, but I remember how good I felt when I used to run regularly. I especially enjoyed running after we moved to Maine, because the climate is perfect and the scenery beautiful. After I figured out the confusing winding and dead-end roads, and no longer had to ask fellow runners for directions, it was a breeze. Since I started going to school and working full time, I’ve been feeling too overwhelmed to fit exercise into my busy schedule. Plus I haven’t been eager to brave the cold temperatures in the winter. I know. How can I call myself a “Mainer?” Anyway, anyone who gets out of a routine or habit knows how difficult it can be to get back into it.

My first motivation to get back into running was the gorgeous spring weather. Another incentive is the three grueling flights of stairs I have to climb at school. As I clear the last flight, using the railing to help pull me along, I try to feign complacency for those who may be watching. I work in the cardiology unit at the hospital which is on the ninth floor. For obvious reasons I use the elevator. One night my co-worker convinced me to take the stairs with her from the cafeteria. Midway up I wanted to punch her, kind of. As if that weren’t enough, my best boyfriend mentioned that I appear to be “squishier” than I used to be. He wasn’t trying to make me feel bad, but it got me thinking. Although I’m not overweight by any means, I am less firm than I once was. :-{

Brent and I decided to run the 5K “Race for Education” at Burns School this past Sunday. We became less enthusiastic as the race day was approaching. I think we might have talked ourselves out of it if it weren’t for our good friend Jason. He brought his 10-year-old daughter, and stayed at the back with her. We spent large portion of the race walking. When I kept stopping to tie my shoes, Brent thought I was just trying to get out of running; but I was actually bending over to give him a good view of my butt. ;-) You can view the results of the race, and you’ll find us way down at the bottom. Yes, it’s a little embarrassing. But we did beat three people out of 100. No one seemed convinced when I announced that it was our second time around. ;-)

All this inspired me to get back into shape. Apart from the obvious physical benefits of regular cardiovascular exercise, I love the euphoria that I experience from running. I’ve read about endorphin levels increasing with regular exercise, and I enjoy the feeling of invincibility–my “runner’s high.” I also much prefer the crisp, fresh air of the outdoors to running on a treadmill. My run is enhanced by my environmental surroundings–particularly on rural roads–as I clear my head, meditate, relieve stress, and peacefully take in the scenery…almost becoming one with it.

In a New York Times article, Dr. Henning Boecker and his colleagues of the University of Bonn performed a study to define and measure the “runner’s high.”

They 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. RunnerThe 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.

I’d forgotten how happy I felt mentally, well after my running excursions. I admit, I didn’t push myself too hard this morning. I did more of a jogging/walking thing. My knees don’t seem to take the high-impact action so well, and the air was a bit cold. I don’t think my sweatshirt sleeve was pleased that I didn’t bring any tissues with me. ;-P It isn’t always easy for me to get motivated to go running at 4 or 5am. Once I get started though, I’m pumped…especially when I’m serenaded by Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, or Green Day on my iPod. Yes, I know, I’m old school. :-) Now that I’ve started running, I’m committed. And perhaps I should take the stairs more often.


  1. “I was actually bending over to give him a good view of my butt.”

    Thanks, Babe.

    You should choose a photo without a huge copyright logo watermark. :)

    Comment by brentdanley — April 14, 2010 @ 7:21 am

  2. Enjoyed every bit of your post.

    Comment by Abel Ponder — April 16, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

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