March 1, 2013

Can You Learn to Fly?

Can You Learn to Fly?

He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying. 

~Friedrich Nietzsche

IMG_1377On the short list of reasons why I chose to take up running was a growing fascination I had with runner’s high. Try this experiment at home: poll runners – ones you know, random ones you encounter – about why they run. Almost all of them will describe some version of runner’s high for you.  Watch them carefully when they do. See the dreamy smile they get, the sort of glossy look in their eyes. For a moment, they might seem like they have wandered off to some alternate reality that is much better than wherever they might actually be with you.

When I first started to run, I expected that runner’s high would be one of the more immediate perks – one of the things I would get as a benefit if you will to keep me going. I ran. I waited. I ran. I waited. Maybe I was missing it??? I asked some more experienced runners and was assured that I would definitely not miss runner’s high.

  • They call it a high for a reason
  • It’s an altered state of consciousness
  • It’s like flying
  • You will never want to come down

Ok – so I just wasn’t getting it? I asked a different question. So, when did you first get that feeling? That, it turned out, was a good question. I got two answers pretty consistently – time and distance. No one said they got a runner’s high right away – 6 months, 9 months – a year was the common response. Really – I have to run for a year…ok. And people seemed pretty clear that running for a mile probably wouldn’t cut it…but as to how far…well, farther…at least a few miles.

I will say this now from experience. It did take me almost a year to experience anything I would think of as a runner’s high. It is definitely a state experience – and is is noticeable. But for me it is elusive. I can’t tell you when it might happen just that sometimes it does and it’s definitely a wonderful thing. I envy the people who find this experience often and I wish I knew why it’s not more reproducible in my case. I wonder if I still don’t run far enough, or hard enough – or maybe I’m just not wired like that.

Maybe runner’s high is part of the reward of becoming a seasoned runner and I am still a novice, stretching my wings, but not fully ready to fly.

It’s summer here in Southern California today – 80 degrees on march 1. I plan to put my feet in the sand. Hope you have great weekend plans wherever you are.

Happy Friday.




Leave a comment
  1. Dawn
    March 4, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

    I don’t get a high very often but when I do…. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  2. Cal
    July 15, 2013 at 5:10 am #

    I once was curious about this as well. I found this very helpful in understanding what a runner’s high is and how to achieve it.
    Runner’s high is a term given to the feeling of euphoria that is induced by distance running. You don’t have to be a world class athlete, or even a distance runner person to experience this elevated state of mind. This wiki explains how any person can achieve a runner’s high and dramatically improve his or her fitness while doing it. Sadly, after coming close to losing my leg, i never got to that point. But i am now running again and know i will get there. It just takes committment and something Dr.J has which is endurance. That comes with time. Why do i run? Because i can…….The steps below are based on a 30 – 45 minute run.'s-High