This is your brain on running

Did anyone have to watch that commercial in school? The one where it shows your brain on drugs represented by eggs in a frying pan?

Well I think this is an excellent illustration of your brain on running:


People ask me why I run…and I really wish I could just show them this picture. A lot of society would think that running a marathon is torture, but there’s a small tribe of us who live for this stuff. And I’m seeing a trend…

It’s like the more I get to know other runners, the more we have in common. So many of us are a little ‘type A’. We are driven, to what others might see as extreme. And when life gives us lemons, we throw on our running shoes and log in some serious mileage.  

I have run in the rain, snow, hail, and sleet. I hate taking breaks. I have had runners refer me to certain doctors who “won’t make you stop running” (because that would be the end of all time). On days I don’t run I can be really irritable.

Replace the word run with alcohol in all those sentences and I would be an alcoholic.


Okay so I’m a ‘run-aholic’. And I don’t think I’m alone. Why?

I think it’s because your brain on running gives you a serious high. Scientists will tell you, it’s a real thing.

10 runners had brain scans studied before and after going for a two hour run. After the run they had an increase in the brains endorphins and opioids, and the areas of the brain affected most play a “key role” in how we process our emotions. They also noted an increase in euphoria and happiness ratings.

This article says that running can have an affect that is similar to antidepressants. Running changes the way our brain produces serotonin, and allows it to increase. the author argues that if he could put the affects of running in a pill, he would be a billionaire.

So for those of us who have a hard time relaxing, balancing our mood, ect. running is going to be more appealing and addictive. I think that’s why so many people with anxiety, depression, addiction, ect. turn to running to cope. It is a real, chemical, neurological high that allows us to relax, experience bliss, and process emotions soundly.

When I tell non-runners I spent my weekend logging 22 miles, they tell me I must be crazy. Well, maybe they are kind of right! There’s something in the way I am made that drives me to run long distances. It makes me “high” with happiness, calm, and balance. After my runs I’m a better friend, wife, and human being. Thank you God for giving me legs to run.

So next time someone asks you why you run, tell them it’s like a legal drug…and they should try it too 😉


What do you think? Do you experience a “runner’s high”? Are you a runaholic?


One thought on “This is your brain on running

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