Working Too Hard For The Runners High

Epinephrine (or adrenaline) is the likely hormone responsible for the ‘high’ from running, as it’s the same feeling adrenal junkies live for – the fight or flight response. As was illustrated in a 1990 research study from the journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, this same ‘high’ can be experienced with much LESS effort. More importantly, we can achieve this happy or euphoric feeling without the negatives that come with exercising for too long that I layout in Eat Meat & Stop Jogging.

Interestingly, the endorphin levels from running remain unchanged at any intensity less than 70% for 1hr, which one could argue is the typical effort and duration most recreational runners operate in. Therefore, to say you run for the ‘high,’ would be a lie, unless you’re going for longer than 1hr or at a speed that exceeds 60% intensity.  And if you do exceed that intensity and duration, you’re working way too hard for your high and doing far too much damage.

  • Free radical accumulation = oxidative damage
  • Cortisol secretion = muscle loss
  • Excessive lactate production = acidic pH
  • Chronic repetitive movements = injury

So how do you get your fix?

Go hard and go home!


As the chart above illustrates, when you select an activity like sprinting where you can operate at full capacity you can get a far bigger runners high in anywhere from 5-10% the time commitment…and without the damage that comes with duration.

Stay Lean!

Coach Mike