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What is Runner’s High?

After completing a long run, it is likely that some people will have experienced a runner’s high at some point. This refers to a feeling of Euphoria that eases feelings of anxiety, instead triggering calmness.

It is also believed to reduce the pain often felt by runners that have embarked on a lengthy run. It is believed that those who experience a runner’s high will feel as though they can continue running for a further five miles. 

What is runner’s high?

Not all runners will experience a runner’s high. In fact, many beginners and advanced runners have yet to encounter such feelings of elevation. Of course, it can be difficult to measure this feeling because each individual's perception of euphoria is different. 

It was previously believed that endorphins were the cause of runner's high. These are feel-good chemicals that are released by our bodies when we participate in physical activity.

However, the conduction of recent research by scientists actually suggests otherwise. In fact, endorphins are believed to be too large to pass through the blood-brain barrier with any immediacy.

Whilst they are effective in dampening any feelings of pain, molecules known as endocannabinoids are thought to be the cause of runner's high.

Similar to endorphins, endocannabinoids are released into the bloodstream following engagement with physical activity and act as a natural drug to ease the effects felt by such forms of exercise. 

Anandamide is a type of endocannabinoid that is often found in high volumes in the blood of those who have just finished running, hence why it is thought to be one of the main causes of a runner’s high.

Common feelings associated with anandamide are reduced feelings of anxiety and increased feelings of calmness along with a sense of euphoria. 

As mentioned, runner’s high is not something that is experienced by all runners. There are even many advanced runners who are yet to experience these feelings of elevation.

It is thought that a long, intense run or workout is likely to trigger a runner's high. As such, runners will likely need to engage in at least one hour of continuous physical activity, although a run that exceeds two hours largely increases the likelihood of encountering these feelings. 

Despite the different suggestions by scientists regarding what is believed to be the cause of a runner’s high, as of yet, there isn’t enough research to confirm the definitive cause and trigger of such feelings.

Ultimately, a runner’s high is more likely to be experienced by runners at an advanced level than those at a beginner level who are still familiarizing themselves with the sport by running fewer miles.

To encourage feelings of elevation and euphoria, runners are advised to sustain their heart rate whilst exercising for a continuous amount of time without over-exerting themselves. 

How long does runner's high last?

The longevity of a runner’s high is subjective to the individual. For some, encountering these euphoric feelings may simply last for a brief moment, for others, these feelings may be experienced for a couple of miles.

For the amount of time in which these feelings are felt, it is likely that runners will feel calmer and much more relaxed. Often, their perception of time is altered to so although, in reality, they may only be feeling euphoric for a short period of time, the natural high may make them feel as though it is longer. 

According to the experiences of several different runners, the average amount of time that it takes to experience a runner’s high is between 40 to 60 minutes.

Of course, this will also depend on your experience of running and the frequency in which you participate in this type of exercise. It is believed that those who run at least three times or more a week can experience a runner’s high in as little as 10 minutes. 

These feelings will eventually subside and as previously mentioned, there isn’t a definitive amount of time in which a runner’s high lasts.

Whilst some may feel euphoric and free of pain for several miles, others may not experience it as intensely with the feelings fading away after a short amount of time. 

Regardless of the longevity in which it is felt, many runners would claim that this is the best part of the run. Likewise, the amount of time that it takes to experience a runner’s high can vary rather significantly between individuals.

For some, it can take at least an hour to encounter these feelings, for others it can take longer and in some instances, it can even take as little as 10 minutes.

There are many factors that will contribute to this time such as the distance and frequency at which you run and how experienced you are at running. Advanced runners are likely to experience it sooner. 


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