Saturday, April 20, 2013

Rush Hour at the Endorphin Factory

4/11/13.  I had an endorphin rush this morning.  Thursdays are usually an easy day for me.  I don't need to be anywhere until 9:30, and so I can turn the alarm off and wake up when I wake up.  This is usually about 6:30.

It's nice to wake up naturally.  I'm usually relaxed and in a good mood and looking forward to a day where I will probably do some things that matter, but without rushing.

The endorphin rushes are apparently a gift from running, but at this point they don't seem to be connected to running.  They show up when they want to, although I think being well-rested, relaxed, and happy helps.

Sometimes when I'm waking up I sense that I'm feeling particularly good, and as I gain consciousness I recognize that I'm in the middle of a rush.  It's important not to move.  I've found that any movement breaks the rush -- it disappears like a spiderweb, and then I might as well get up and have breakfast.

So I just lie there and have the experience.  It's a little difficult to describe.  The mind is very clear.  The body is very alive.  And coursing through every single fiber of my being is this incredible, palpable supply of wellness.

A gift from the pituitary gland, apparently, or at least that seems to be the primary source.  Or, frankly, it may not even be endorphins.  It may be something called anandamide.

I don't care what you call it.  I just know what happens.  And I'm a firm believer in the link to running.

I'm not convinced that I've ever had an actual runner's high, a euphoric state that occurs during a long run or after you stop.  But I have noticed some interesting things that happen to me at the end of marathons, and occasionally late in a long training run.

The definition of pain shifts.  I don't know if the pain actually becomes less, but it loses the ability to dictate what you do.  And time stops being something you measure with a clock.  It becomes I was back there, now I'm here, soon I will go there.  And sometimes it's just I am here.

If it's not endorphins, it's something that manages pain and reorients me to what matters.

And that's what happens to me every once in a while, on a Thursday morning or at some other random, unexpected time.  I can't summon it.  I can't schedule it.  I don't know when it's coming.  All I can do is pay attention when it shows up, and be grateful.

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