You'll get different answers on that, depending on which runner you ask. If it's me you're asking, the answer is: fiction.
I've never experienced anything approaching euphoria while running. The best part of running for me is when it's time to stop running. I'm always pretty pleased about that part. And I do enjoy a good downhill. Running downhill can be pretty fun. And I feel good after having run. But I certainly wouldn't call it a high.
What do I get, in lieu of high, I suppose is sort of a sweet spot between about miles seven and ten. I can't say I go numb because I certainly do still feel pain, most notably in my knees the closer I get to ten miles. It's more that my body has gotten into such a rhythm of running that I don't have to think about it. I'm not always consciously aware that I'm running. I'm feeling the effects of the running, but not the effort of it. Or something.
While it's certainly not a grand old time or even comfortable this time around, it turns out that not waiting until you're entirely out of shape to begin training for a half-marathon really makes it a lot easier. When training for my first half, pretty much every long run was torturous, beginning with the five mile run. I relived that when training for the last half, seeing as how I'd slacked off in the months before. I had to remind mysef over and over when those long runs hurt so much that they'd hurt at least as much the last time also. Because I was concerned that the difficulty meant that I wouldn't be able to finish the race.
Last weekend, my running buddy Amy and I set out ot run nine miles. Except we took a small accidental detour at the beginning and then what we thought was a three mile loop turned out in fact to be 3.14, with the end result being that we actually ran about 9.7. While my knees and butt hurt, the worst of it was how freezing cold our hands were by the end since the sun had started to go down. So it's hard to get real intimidated about running ten this weekend since it's just .3 more than we did last week.
Sadly though, it's somewhere around ten where my sweet spot or faux runner's high or whatever comes to an end. From there, it's pretty much a matter of gutting it out for however many more miles I need to go. Meaning that the eleven and twelve mile runs are indeed looking intimidating.
But then we get to 13.1 and for once, I'm not afriad of it. I'll worry about time and all of that during the Rock & Roll Half here in DC on St. Patrick's Day. On January 15, my one and only goal is to have fun. Which kind of sounds like a tall order of business when it's related to running that far, but I feel confident I can do it. I'm running with my two favorite Hollys and we'll be celebrating Phoenix Holly's first half-marathon. San Antonio Holly and I may have kind of twisted her arm to get her to do it with us, but we'll do our damndest to make it a pleasant experience for her.
And then we can have guilt-free bacon cheeseburgers. So maybe the runner's high does exist after all.