Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Running For The High - And The Health - Of It

I remember the first time I experienced a runner's high... it was within my first year of starting up running and I was completing a 3 mile loop out and back from my college apartment.  As I was about 2.5 miles in, I realized I felt so good that I didn't want to stop. Actually, I felt fantastic - my breathing was relaxed and calm, my legs felt like they were running on clouds and my running just felt so... EASY. I knew I wanted to take advantage of this so I decided to take an impromptu left turn onto a side road.  I ended up adding another 1.5 miles onto my course and finished that run with the most euphoric feeling ever.  I couldn't wait to run again. Of course, that blissfulness eluded me on my next run because that's not how the "runner's high" works.

It didn't matter though because I was already hooked... what had started as a means of improving my fitness level had now grown into an enjoyable activity that I looked forward to 3-4 times per week.

I have been lucky to experience this "high" a few times since, although up until this past weekend it was limited to workout runs.

On Saturday, I ran the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation Race for the Cure.  It is a 5K run/walk held in 9 cities throughout the U.S. in an effort to raise awareness and funds for Multiple Myeloma (MM) research.  MM is a cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell responsible for producing antibodies. In MM, abnormal plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow and form tumors, which interfere with the production of normal blood cells and platelets.

The MMRF race was held at Castle Island in South Boston - one of my favorite places to run. The weather had impeccable timing as far as my friend, and race partner, Keri and I were concerned.  The rainy weather held out long enough for us to pick up our numbers, the skies opened up while we stayed dry in her car and then the rain stopped about 25 minutes before race time.  I had received a sample of Energy Bits from the Healthy Living Summit that I recently attended, so we decided to test it out prior to the race to give us a little more, well, energy :) I haven't been running consistently this spring/summer so I figured any assistance would help.

Race buddies!

Although we both felt great during the run, we had no idea until after we finished exactly how well we ran... surprisingly, we both placed in the Top 5 of our respective age groups for females!  Keri finished in 24:06 and I finished in 25:03!  What?!

Was it the Energy Bits?  Maybe it was the great running weather?  Did I just experience the race version of a runner's high?

Who knows... but after about a year and a half of only feeling so-so about my running, I have a renewed appreciation and excitement for hitting the pavement.  I'm also reminded of why I've continued running since the bug first hit me:
  1. Primarily, I run for the health of my lungs... I underwent a lung lobectomy in 2005, in which part of my left lobe was removed due to a lung condition called bronchiectasis.  Running has helped to increase my lung capacity post-surgery, despite the reduced surface area in my lungs.
  2. Running clears my head - sometimes I spend my run sorting out various issues in my life, other times I just get lost in the music coming through my headphones... either way I feel as though some weight has been lifted after completing a run.
  3. I sleep better - this is true for weightlifting, spinning, pretty much any physical activity I partake in... sleeping is never an issue when I'm in a regular exercise routine.
  4. My abs get a fantastic workout - ok, so this is only when I add fartleks or more structured sprints into my running workout... but it's fun to wake up the next morning with sore obliques from my run the day before. (then again, as a trainer my idea of fun can be kind of warped... or so my clients say...)
My 4th place finish also made me realize that surpassing my 5K PR of 23:49 from 7 years ago (one of my 20(in)12 goals) is definitely a reasonable goal with additional training.  One thing's for sure... I love a good challenge! 

Wally insisted on taking his picture with us :)

Are you a runner?  If so, what motivates you to lace up your sneakers and get it done??


  1. Amazing time and great goals. I love all your reasons for running and that runner's high. Seriously the best feeling ever.

  2. Thanks Abby! Yes it really is the best... Love that endorphin release! :)