June 22, 2010
Running Mountain High
Hi. My name is Dan, and I’m an endorphin junkie.
And I was happy to learn some time back that my experience has been validated. There really is such a thing as “runner’s high.” For years I have been running—before, in the midst of or after my work day—and for the last eight years it’s consistently been trail running for an hour-plus a few times a week on a nearby mountainside. This is intensive physical exertion, and the sense of euphoria that accompanies it is worth some exclamation!
But there’s no euphoria when I start out. Often I really don’t want to go for a run, particularly on a cold winter day. But I go through the motions of preparing. Then I commit myself by letting my running dog, Mr. Remo, in on the plan. As I step out the door—often under a cool and drippy sky—I’m thinking I must be deranged. But Mr. Remo is excited and vaults into the bed of the pickup. Once he’s in the back of the truck and barking his way down the road, to turn back is to court inconsolable canine disappointment.
At the trailhead I park and launch Mr. Remo off the tailgate. Tighten up the laces. Start out across the field. Hit the trail. Enter the wooded canopy. Gradually kick up the respiration rate. Work the oxygen down into the legs. Feel them grumble and gradually come alive. Climb, climb, climb. Feel the burn. Resist the temptation to stop and rest. Enter the zone. Arrive at the top. Gulp some water. Take in the view. And then head back down 1,600 vertical feet. This is the easier part, where the mind is freed up for thought, prayer and problem solving.
Late in the run and after, I’m feeling absolutely great. I’m likely to be uncharacteristically loquacious. And I can’t count the number of times an editorial problem or obstacle has been burdening my mind and I’ve found the cure in running. Running has a way of reducing a problem to manageable size. I may even come up with a good solution. And I’m energized, ready to tackle it and “just do it.”
Now maybe some of you will say (piously), “I just pray about it.” Well, running and prayer are not mutually exclusive. And maybe God has given us endorphins for a reason. I’m betting on their power to offset the need for addenda and errata.