Dear Jeff: I started running last year and have lost 10 pounds. I feel great and have completed a few races. When I started to run, I didn’t like it but I pushed through because I knew it would be worth the effort. Now I have moved into the phase where I want to run because of how I feel afterwards. When will I get the endorphins or the runner's high I keep hearing about? -Susie
Hi, Susie. I salute you for your efforts in turning your mind and body around. You have a lot to look forward to.
The endorphin effect varies widely among runners. For most it is a positive glow after running, with an attitude boost. Very few receive an intense and wonderful feeling every run. I've described a number of these different experiences in my new book 100 Reasons to Run Now!
More frequent walk breaks tend to deliver better endorphin moments. The longer you run, the more likely the endorphins will be needed to kill the pain of running. When you walk, the endorphins can lock into receptor sites on billions of cells getting a good attitude injection. You'll see in my books Galloway Training Programs, Running Until You’re 100, and others, my suggested strategies of running to walking, by pace per mile. It is always OK to take the walk breaks more often than recommended--especially in long training runs and during the first 70% of all races.
Many runners have noticed that when they shorten both the run and the walk segments, it's easier to pick up the pace during the run segment. One heavy runner improved his marathon time by 30 minutes when he changed from running 30 sec/walking 30 seconds to running 20 seconds/walking 40 seconds.
It also helps to run slow enough so that there is no huffing and puffing--a sure sign that the endorphins are spent in pain killing.
Enjoy every mile...and every endorphin.