Friday, August 01, 2008

Is Runner’s High a Religious Experience?

By Andrea Useem

A day after my 35th birthday this spring, I ran my first half-marathon. I expected it to be a grueling physical challenge, and it was. What I didn’t expect was this: Somewhere around mile 10, while listening to a favorite song on my iPod, I experienced a fantastic, expanding sense of joy. I could not restrain myself from reaching my arms up, palms to the sun, to celebrate the sheer pleasure of being alive and propelling myself forward through the humid morning air.

There is a quick diagnosis for my condition: runner’s high, a state that the latest research shows is related to the release of endorphins, the body’s natural opiate. While both runners and researchers have compared the experience of runner’s high to doing street drugs, my own moment in the sun felt more like feelings I have had while praying or meditating. Read More

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