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The elusive runner's high not as rare as some may think

Even though many elite runners, especially those of the long-distance variety, are skeptical of what running pundits call the “runner's high,” the sensation can actually be fairly common. Former Runner's World executive editor Rich Benyo argues that runner's high can be achieved as early as two months into a running program.

Among the many topics addressed in the forthcoming Timeless Running Wisdom (Human Kinetics, December 2010), Benyo discusses how, while not rare, runner's high (or “sweet running”) must still be actively sought, or at least be prepared for actively on a physical level. “When the elements of training and effort intersect and the training has been just slightly more ambitious than the effort requires, the effort becomes, for a moment or for an hour, effortless,” he says. “The myriad training levels involved in runningphysical, mental, spiritualblend in a seemingly cosmic recipe and you, the runner, are one with the run.”

Benyo also believes that many runners experience sweet running on their own. “Any runner who has trained vigorously and wisely for a marathon and who leaves the starting line conservatively usually experiences a ‘sweet spot' between miles 7 and 16, once the deep muscles are warmed up, the rhythm of running has established itself, and the weariness of running very long distances has not yet arrived.”

He cautions, however, that many marathoners ruin their marathons during that period of experiencing a runner's high by mistakenly assuming that they somehow trained beyond the perfect level, only to then proceed to outrun their fine-tuning in a greedy effort to take advantage of prowess that, at least that day, is not present in such abundance.

“Like the human body itself, which becomes more efficient the more you use it, running becomes sweeter the more you integrate it into your life,” says Benyo. “The wisdom comes in allowing that to happen. Relax in your running and allow your own wisdom to sweeten the whole process.”

For more information, see Timeless Running Wisdom.