Trading the High for Zen and a General Sense of Awesome
I don’t get the runner’s high anymore. I haven’t for about a year and a half now. When I first started running, catching the “high” was a frequent occurrence, especially during hard efforts like long runs or speed work. But nowadays it’s something I’ve learned to do without. The only runner’s high I get now is after the run, when my knees are iced, my feet are up and I’m able to reflect on the satisfaction of having done work.
Of course, beer helps.
Oh how far I’ve come!
During my early running days, when I didn’t really know what I was getting into, breaking down on a desolate country road, overcome with emotion was rather common. I’d often feel like I made some poignant realization about myself. I’d get that warm, cozy feeling I used to get during my MDMA partying days. I used to think: if only EVERYONE were a runner, to know this special feeling!
Then, as soon as it came, it was gone. Forever.
I don’t know why. But I’m over it.
I’ve traded the high for zen, the emotion for being present. Of course, for me, catching the zen isn’t as easy as simply going for a long run or running intervals. It takes a combination of speed and distance for me to tap into it. It demands a pace fast enough to be uncomfortable, and a distance far enough to make maintaining that pace hard as hell. It requires supreme focus. Splits, muscle aches and what I’m going to have for dinner that night cannot jut into my consciousness. Everything must go, everything except the present.
And even then, reaching zen mode is not a given. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve found that when I think about it or try to force my way into having one of those experiences, it just doesn’t work.
The good news is, every run — no matter how present or how off in space — brings me happiness. Even after those really awful runs, the ones where I felt slow, felt heavy, felt off, felt crampy, even those make me smile.
Just moving, doing work, going forward in time… that’s awesome.