What it means to get high from running

“Runner’s high” is a condition well known to anyone who runs and equally well known to the medical world. It is due to the release of endorphins in the body that relieve pain and make you feel less fatigue, making you feel very, very good as a side effect. Many also see it as a non-secondary driver of why many people remain attached to running. We at RunLovers call it “The vicious-virtuous circle”: vicious because it forces you to always seek the effect caused by certain substances (perfectly legal, because your body naturally produces them) and virtuous because the thing only happens by running, and thus doing you good.

While the pharmacological aspects are known, it is interesting, however, to see how different people describe this state of grace, which evidently has manifestations that vary from person to person and body to body. The following are several testimonies of people who run: some are athletes, some are Olympians, and some are ordinary people doing ordinary jobs and running. Each of these people has a particular view of their runner’s high. I divided them into corporeal and extracorporeal. It would be great to read in the comments at the end of this article what your version of the runner’s high is!


Daniel Unsdorfer says that when he reaches this state, nothing hurts him anymore. So many associate running with pain and fatigue, but for him it is not so. When he is “high” he feels no pain and no longer worries about the past and future.

Whitney Dawson of Portland describes this feeling in a very particular way: it’s like having one of those epic cries, at the end of which you’ve cried all your tears and what was giving you grief has receded and resolved and you see everything more clearly.

Dave Alemi says running allows him to take his mind off futile things. When he is in a state of grace, he has no more worries because a space of balance has been generated within him that makes everything seem relative and distant.

Suzanne Bergmeister calls the runner’s high “state of clarity” or “flow.” Not surprisingly, she uses the running time to clear her mind and solve problems. She does not run while listening to music or podcasts because she uses the training time to solve issues that normally she would not be able to untangle. When she has a problem, she has no doubt: she goes out for a run.

Rachel Johnsen suffers from depression and anxiety and has found that running relieves these moods. Up to a point she calls “normalcy.” When she runs she is able to dominate herself emotionally and psychologically to the point where she feels “normal,” or at least the way she thinks normal people who face life without anxiety or sadness should feel.


The Olympian Alexi Pappas describes her runner’s high as a perfect alignment of mind and body, and that’s what happened to her right at the Olympics, when the overlap between mental and physical states caused her to have an out-of-body experience that allowed her to see herself from the outside. Wow.

Data scientist Bonny McClain defines this state as hypnotic: when he gets into it by listening to his favorite podcasts, he seems to be able to understand them much better and simultaneously feel no more fatigue. His body just wants to go further and further and his mind to listen to more podcasts.

Writer and illustrator Quinne Myers says she feels like she is flying: her shoulders open up and wings sprout. Everything that made her anxious before goes away and she feels her body 100 percent.

Aerospace engineer Ryan Decker, on the other hand, says the high is so powerful that after running he cannot concentrate because he only feels an extreme sense of well-being.

And now tell us your own: do you also have similar experiences like these people? Or do you have different ones? Tell us in the comments!

(Via Elemental – Photo by Alan Hurt Jr. on Unsplash)



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