You know that sense of euphoria you get when you complete a long-distance run? Your body is tired, and you might be breathing hard, but at the same time, it feels as if you just conquered a mountain or, at least, finished a long, challenging workout.
This wonderful sensation is colloquially known as a “runner’s high,” and it’s caused by a flood of chemicals throughout your body. These chemicals, including glutamate and endorphins, are produced in order to take away the pain and discomfort of the run, and they end up overwhelming the system by the time you stop running, thus leading to feelings of elation and happiness.
Although it’s a temporary sensation, the runner’s high is much sought after for runners who not only want to improve their physical fitness but also enhance their mindfulness. If a good, sweaty workout isn’t enough for you, then why not consider a runner’s high? In this post, we’ll offer you some tips on how to achieve a runner’s high from every run, as well as motivate you to push yourself to do better.
1. Warm up.
No good run ever happens without a proper warmup. Start by stretching out your legs and body for a solid 10-15 minutes before you head out of the house; this will ensure that your body will be looser and more relaxed to avoid any injuries or pulled muscles during the run.
Once outside, begin with a slow jog around the block or a couple of laps around the track, making sure to maintain a speed at 50 percent or less of your normal pace. While it might be tempting to start off right away with running, taking five minutes to warm up will stimulate your muscles and get them more flexible when handling the longer run to come your way. This will also prevent you from tiring out quickly, as you can then ease into your normal pace thereafter.
2. Start picking up the pace.
As soon as you feel warmed up, it’s now time to begin increasing your pace. It’s a good deal to pick up speed to the point that your body starts to feel a bit more resistance, but still comfortable enough to hold the position for a while; usually, going at 70 percent of your pace is the way to go.
However, if you find that going at 70 percent your speed is too much for you to sustain over a long period of time, then it’s not a problem to cut it down to 60 percent or so. As long as you can remain at ease and still challenge yourself, you can then go around achieving the runner’s high.
3. Stay consistent.
Now, it’s a matter of holding your position for the rest of the run (at least until the last few meters or so). It might start to get extremely tiring, but do your best to push through it.
Consistency doesn’t necessarily mean keep the same speed for the whole run, as physiological and environmental factors are constantly influencing our pace during the workout. Staying consistent can be a matter of either maintaining 60-70 percent of your maximum speed or even doing interval runs that alternative between jogging and sprinting. As long as it remains even throughout the run, you’ll know that you’re right on track.
4. Zone out.
Whether it naturally happens or you have to train yourself for it, zoning out during the middle section of the run offers your mind a sense of peace and comfort as a way to take it off of the stress and pressure from such a high-intensity sport.
Even more so, finding a way to concentrate in the moment increases the chances of getting the runner’s high, as it often follows while zoning out. You’ll know when you have it when you start to realize that running isn’t feeling as difficult as beforehand, and that you’re able to conquer those hills or soft sand relatively easily.
While it’s true that they might also be attributed to your improvement in the sport, the runner’s high is still there doing its job and making you feel even more great that you’re succeeding.
5. Give it all you’ve got!
To get that post-workout high, you’ll need to pick up speed toward the end of your run. Whether it’s the last 100-meter sprint or the last half-mile around your neighborhood, do you best to hit 90 percent or above as you prepare to finish up your workout.
In order to motivate yourself to increase your pace, think to yourself that the faster you go, the quicker the workout will be over and the sooner you’ll achieve that runner’s high that you’ve been striving to obtain for the last five miles or so. By having that mentality, you’ll find it much easier to go faster on the final stretch than if you were to give up and slow down before you even reach the destination point. Combat the fatigue and push, push, push!
What makes the runner’s high so appealing to runners is that it offers a natural feeling of happiness and accomplishment after a run, which in a sense is similar to a reward. You feel as if you’re the king (or queen) of all workouts and afterward don’t feel as tired as you’d expected to. The runner’s high is a natural sensation that not only makes your feel good about yourself but also can inspire you to run again and for many years to come.
That said, to go about achieving the runner’s high in every workout, here’s a quick review of the tips we covered in this post:
Always warm up to loosen your muscles.
Go at a slow pace first before picking up speed.
Stay consistent throughout the run, whether at the same speed or interval.
Sprint towards the end to activate the flood of chemicals to receive the runner’s high.
With all of that, happy running!