Runners, along with spectators, will be intoxicated by Marathon (full story)
By Rachel Leamon
Researchers in Germany reported last month in the journal Cerebral Cortex that runner's high can be detected in the brain because running increases endorphins -- neurochemicals shown to reduce pain and create euphoria.
Scott Dunlap, Trail Runner Magazine Trophy Series 2004 Overall Champion, said the exhilaration is unmistakable, usually taking effect on mile eight of his run.
"I would equate it to the feeling of having two Red Bulls and vodka, three ibuprofens and a $50 winning lotto ticket in your pocket," he said.
Dunlap said he enjoys getting his "fix" and though runner's high may motivate people to exercise, he said he does not think it is powerful enough to make him dependent.
"Running can be addictive due to a number of other reasons such as the stimulation from being outdoors and the optimism that comes with being at a high level of fitness," he said.
Virginia Grant, a psychologist at Memorial University of Newfoundland, said in a 2002 New York Times article that rats allowed to run seem unable to stop, and behave like rats addicted to cocaine or morphine.
Boston University track and cross-country runner Molly James said the runner's high only happens when she is alone and running for a long time.
"My whole body relaxes and I feel like I could run forever," James, a College of Communication freshman, said. "It's a head-clearing experience."
People addicted to running can get muscle injuries, causing severe consequences if they continue to run while injured.
"Running becomes problematic either when it produces injuries or is used to avoid dealing with other important matters in life, such as personal relationships," said Boston University's head cross-country coach Bruce Lehane.
Research has shown that exercising regularly can put people in a better mood.
"On average, you tend to see people who are runners and habitual exercisers having better moods, suffering from less depression and less anxiety, and more general feelings of well-being," said American Council on Exercise chief science officer Cedric Bryant.