In which Shreya, our newly minted speed queen from T. Nagar, talks about ‘Runner’s High’ and traces her personal journey towards it…
The throbbing sensation builds, creeping from the ankles through the lower calves, and slowly but loudly into the backs of the knees. Mouth parched, sweat dribbling from every bodily curve possible. A barricade emerges ahead, pump-up music playing in the distance, the bright finish line tape waving in the breeze, urging the body to keep pushing and make it to the end.
All of a sudden, somewhere in the brain gears shift, clicking into a zone, slipping into realm where all that exists is the body and the ground beneath. Arms and feet are at once weightless and an overwhelmingly strong yet unspecific happiness washes over all the aching limbs, powdery sweat, and cramping toes. At last, the road ends, the body slows, and bliss sets in.
Is it the finish line that brings on this outer-body like sensation? Is it the feeling of finally achieving those extra km that were once a dream? Or could it be the shear movement of the limbs that trigger our ancestral genetics, the biological code that crowned us the bipedal kings?
According to experts ranging from veteran runners to genetics specialists and psychologists, it could be any or all of the three, not to mention other bodily and psychological factors. As Scientific American tried to explain in an article behind the hard science of ‘runner’s high’, “for some people it’s highly emotional, for some it’s peaceful, and for some it’s a burst of energy”. The article mentions however, scientifically speaking, there is a common thread. The release of endogenous opioids at some point in physical or even in some cases extreme mental exertion leads to other sensation-related changes. While the the actual receptor paths and areas affected are still largely speculation, the effect is real. For example, there is a direct correlation between opioid production and its catalyst effect on the release of dopamine, leading to potential dampening of pain and increase in positive feeling.
While the ‘whats and hows’ are still debated by researchers, one conclusion remains the same. The benefits of engaging in running at any level, letting the body act and sync into its natural rhythm, and drawing the mind towards the movement allows the invaluable luxury of getting a slice of mental and physical unity. It is the most innate way to bring ourselves closer to our bodies and to the essence of a purely happy state.
This article is penned by Shreya, who is featured here – being on the podium is sure to give you that high!!