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    Running and the Mind

    Running and the Mind

    There you are, sitting on your couch at 5 p.m. after a long day of work, overstimulating your senses. The TV is on, you’re endlessly scrolling, and the microwave is going.

    We’ve all been there, I know I have (as of last night). 

    We’re relying on our digital medium more and more as a way to interact with each other. What’s worse is that we know it isn’t good for humans. It is simply against our natural function. We continue to ignore these facts, and shy away from healthy behaviors because it’s easy– you don’t even think about it. It is becoming increasingly few and far between that we see social media pages focusing on

    Girl on her phone.

    the important pillars of running. Far too often we see pages dedicated to objectifying female athletes or pages that inject calls to action that incite guilt rather than inspiration. 

    Enough of the negative, let’s talk about why running can be one of the healthiest habits you can have. Don’t forget that running is one of the cheapest and most accessible forms of exercise. 

    Running, as well as most forms of exercise, are a good example of the pain/pleasure balance. This theory divulges the necessity to have pleasure one must experience pain, and vice versa. When we experience pain, our body releases endorphins. This is prevalent during the first five to fifteen minutes are the most painful (depending on the distance and intensity). The term “warmed up” and/or following the first ten to fifteen minutes of running is actually our brain releasing endorphins, lowering the perceived pain in our muscles. 

    man running on the side of the road.

    Often, this is coined as “runner’s high”, however, the endorphins don’t ever pass the blood-brain barrier, the semipermeable layer that decides whether or not certain molecules pass through to the brain. 

    This is what the Lacetrap was designed to maximize. Assuming the runner’s high is the peak performance mindset, it would then be desired to stay in that mindset for as long as possible. Promoting presence, eliminating distractions, and getting the most out of your runs are important. Why not be the best athlete you can be? 

    So then is runner’s high real? That calm, relieved feeling that washes over you after putting your body through pain, what is the pleasure that comes? While we can all agree that we get the feeling, (unless you’re deathly nauseated) scientists aren’t particularly positive on why this is the case, but they do think that it is likely due to endocannabinoids being released. 

    Two trail runners coming down a hill.

    Endocannabinoids mimic the feelings of cannabis causing a relaxed, euphoric state but are naturally produced in the body. They are different from endorphins because they can pass through the blood-brain barrier. When exercising, endocannabinoid levels increase, so the feelings of calm could likely be due to these increased levels. 

    Even long after you’ve finished your daily miles, running can have many antidepressant effects. According to a Hopkins Medicine article, Neuroscientist David Linden explains that exercise “blunts the brain’s response to physical and emotional stress.” The hippocampus, the memory and learning sector of the brain, appears to increase in volume in the brains of regular exercisers. 

    Man standing in the snow.

    It’s been known for eternity that telling someone how to live, how they should be acting, or what they need to be doing doesn’t work. While the simplistic nature of running bears vast and complex benefits, it is important that we share this knowledge without lining our intent to share the knowledge with pretension. Running is free, so don’t act as if you own it. 

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