What is Runner’s High & How to Get It

Running Strides

Runners high is an experience like nothing else.

When you tap into it, you go on autopilot, and the world ceases to exist.

You feel like you’re floating, almost as if you’re weightlessly running on air

Running seems effortless, and you get the sense that you could keep going forever.

You no longer feel the stabbing side stitches, knee pain, and anything else that used to ail you

A sense of elation overwhelms you, and all is good in the world.

Nothing can stop you now.

For these reasons, many a runner want this high, and they wanted now.

Here’s the catch, though.

There are no shortcuts to runners high.

You can’t buy it at the local store; even the science behind it is confusing, often conflicting.

If you want to know more about runners high as well as how to reach it more often, you’re lucky.

In today’s post, I’m finally explaining the science behind runners high, and the measures you need to take to get it.

Sounds good?

Let’s get started.

What’s A Runners High

Runners high refers to the emotional experience of lowered stress, pure delight, and a diminished ability and sensitivity to pain that some runners experienced while pounding the pavement.

The exact mechanism behind this ecstatic state is still a bit of mystery, but nowadays, virtually everyone agrees that it has something to do with chemical changes that happen to your body during exercise.

Let’s see what’s that all about.

Your Brain On Running

When you engage in high-intensity exercise, your brain produces a mix of chemicals that help lower pain perception and make you joyful and happy.

Intense physical activity may cause discomfort or pain, and these chemicals are your body’s self-produced opiates, with pain-soothing properties, much like morphine.

So what kind of chemicals are we talking about?

For a long time, endorphins were believed to the culprit behind runners’ high.

Endorphins consist of the naturally occurring opiates released by the brain during exercise that act a lot like its chemical counterpart, morphine, serving as pain killers released in response to physical discomfort.

However, these chemicals may have been unfairly taking the credit for making your runs enjoyable, according to recent research.

Enter endocannabinoids—another chemical that increases when you exercise.

Research conducted at the University of Heidelberg reported that endocannabinoids play a larger role in triggering runners high and that endorphins have little to do with it.

Endocannabinoids consist of internally produced cannabis-like substances released during exercise and have a similar impact to cannabis.

runner laughing after Runner's High

How To Get Runners High

Alright, now that you understand a bit more about the brain chemistry behind runners high, let’s talk about how to apply it.

Here are a few guidelines to help increases your chances of reaching runners high on your next run.

Push The Pace, But…

As previously stated, the chemicals behind runners high are produced in response to physical discomfort.

But that doesn’t mean that all of your runs should be excruciating.

The key lies in finding the sweet spot.

Training at low intensity won’t be enough to trigger the chemical release, whereas running your body into the ground may trigger the brain’s self-protecting mechanics that limit blood flow.

Research shows that runners are more likely to reach the high when performing a long, continuous bout of exercise, usually one that’s rhythmical.

To make it happen, focus on steady-state cardio when your training effort is challenging but sustainable.

Shoot for 6 to 7 on an exertion scale of 1 to 10.

Aim to run at least 30 to 45 minutes at 80 percent of your maximum heart rate.

Your breath should be fast, but can still carry a conversation with your training buddy.

Keep it up for throughout the workout.

Still not there?

Push it up a bit.

If you usually run a comfortable 10: 00-minute mile, speed up and aim for 9:30 or 9:00 minute pace.

At such an aggressive pace, you should huffing and puffing but able to keep it.

Be Patient

If you just took up running, don’t expect to reach runners high on your first few sessions.

It’s going to take you some time before your body gets used to the high impact of the sport.

And the more miles under your belt, the more likely you are to feel it.

That’s not so-good-news for beginner runners.

But it’s worth it to keep at it until you achieve it.

In general, you can reach this fantastic states after a few months of running.

Once you’re no longer are slogging through your miles and counting the down the minutes until it’s over, know that runners high is just around the corner.


Remember, even if you do not reach runners high, you are still reaping plenty of other running benefits, from better self-esteem, lowered stress, increased endurance, and improved brain function.

A runner high is just one perk among many, so don’t lose over it if you seem unable to reach it yet.

It’s not the end of the world.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep running strong.

David D.


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