There’s No Such Thing As a Runner’s High

Everyone sit down and take a deep breath, because I have some startling news to share.

I’ve started running again.

For everyone who looks to me as the person with whom they can commiserate about sitting on the couch, I apologize. And I still support couch sitting. You do you, girl (or boy). And for those who need me as a companion in the battle to get back the pre-baby body, don’t worry. I’m a long way from pre-baby body. If you’re the competitive type, you have awhile before you need to start to worry. Also, for those who are avid runners and anticipate your daily run with the enthusiasm of a dog greeting his long-lost owner, bless you. I doubt we have much in common. You can read this entry with pity, or leave me some unsolicited advice below about how I can change what I’m doing to become more like you.

However, it might also help to insert here that when I say, “I’ve started running again” what I mean is “I ran this past week”.


I defend myself by noting that I would have run more, but my body has been invaded by the summer head-cold of misery. I went to start a workout video yesterday (yes, I’m doing those, too) and after the snazzy opening and making sure I had my full water-bottle, the video instructor said to start “jump roping” (in quotes because neither they nor I had an actual rope). I attempted to shuffle my body in a convincing up and down manner for a total of 3.2 seconds before deciding there was no way that that was going to continue. My whole body already ached with cold and fever. No need to add fake jump roping to the mix.

My intentions are in the right place, though. I decided it was time to make a change: the polar vortex has taken away my excuse of the weather being too hot, a new beginning in my job warrants a new beginning in other habits, and I actually sometimes enjoy the feeling of not being able to move my muscles for a week after a tough workout. However, after a week of faithfully hitting my video workouts and also running, we decided to start sleep training our son.

The thing about sleep training is that it has all the guise of being about sleep and is actually about being awake. All through the night. If you’re someone who has a child who sleeps through the night, falling asleep independently with minimal or no fussing, drifting gently into the hands of the Sand Man and his good dreams, bless you. You can read this entry with pity, or leave me some unsolicited advice below about how I can change what I’m doing to become more like you.

Anyway, the lack of sleep combined with whatever it is that makes people sick in the beautiful days of summer has put a major wrench in my plans of becoming an olympic athlete and well-rested mom. (My son is also sick, so that adds to the futility of sleep training, since he wakes with every cough. Every. cough.)

Let it be known that I have, in the past, considered myself a person who enjoys running. I have completed a good number of races, and I have fond memories of those moments. There was once a time when a five mile jog was normal. Yeah. It’s okay to barf here.

That time is not this time.

I know there are a million reasons why people run, but one that was always motivated me was “THE RUNNER’S HIGH”. When I asked someone what that was, it was always defined as a euphoria similar to doing recreational drugs, achieved by running distances usually suitable only for reliable vehicles.

I don’t know that I have ever really reached that state of nirvana in my running career [snort], but I’ve certainly had moments in the past when running was enjoyable. Or at least, when I enjoyed completing a run. I’ve had moments of hitting a stride when the run didn’t feel like every step was bringing me one step closer to needing knee surgery. And once or twice I’ve even thought to myself during a run, “Hey, this doesn’t suck too bad.”

Why does any of this even matter? Well, I’m facing a lot of new beginnings. I’m still a new mom, I’m new at my job, I’m new at this running routine. And new is so exciting. But it can also be incredibly exhausting trying to make sure that I am putting the best foot forward, making time for my intended exercise, remembering all the right times for helping my son sleep through the night. Sometimes I long for the days when I could easily run a few miles, or walk into my school and know everyone and everything and how it all worked and where I stand with each staff member. Sometimes I long for those nights when my son would sleep eight hour stretches, albeit in his swing.

But that’s not where I am right now. I’m in transition, I’m in new. New, new, new. And in typical Rachel fashion, I have decided to change everything all at once. Because what’s the point of pacing myself?

I think it would be fantastic if at the end of my running training I could reach a place of runner’s high. I don’t know how likely it is to happen any time soon, since right now my running is taking place in minute-long increments with ninety second walking breaks. Also, that’s assuming there is even such a thing as a runner’s high, something I’m not so sure about when my neighbor looks me up and down in my spandex pants. At that point I believe in the Runner’s “Hi I’m gonna punch you in the face.”

For the record I would also be very open to having a “mom high”, something I’m willing to now define as my son sleeping through the night independently. Or a “work high”, which I will define as finally feeling like I have started to get the hang of things. (I must…ask…less…questions…)

In the meantime, I’m working really, really, really hard to be patient, trust the process, live in the moment, [insert your cliche here]. And maybe if I’m really lucky, I’ll find some people around me who love me enough to give me solicited encouragement as I make the transition. Bless you. You can comment below. 🙂

(P.S. Let it be known here that even in my “running days” of the past, I was beaten in a half-marathon by ketchup and mustard. ‘Nuff said.)


11 responses to “There’s No Such Thing As a Runner’s High

  1. Funny you should mention sleep training… I just gave the following unsolicited thoughts to another sleep deprived new mom on Facebook 😉 You can get LOTS of advice on this topic but what I wish someone would have said to me the first time around is… “screw it”. I always worried and read parenting articles and tried to do things “by the book” expecting the reward of sleep… J1 was a great sleeper by nature and I thought I was so smart and such a good parent because after 2 days of operating “on a schedule” around the 4 month old mark she conformed and offered me the bliss of sleep, set feeding times and predictable naps. J2 proved my theories about myself wrong. I actually reread the same books and after 2 weeks with a wrinkled brow thinking “how can I make this work” I tossed the books back on the shelf and I just let the baby be the baby he wanted to be..a wild, hungry, sleep resistant boy. I resigned myself to the fact that he was a terrible sleeper with a ravenous appetite and savored the smell of his head even if it was 3:30 am. They are only tiny and squishy mushy for a short time. Don’t pressure yourself to “fix” something. (it took J2 about 14 months to find a good sleeping rhythm) Just go day by day and savor whatever you can…including the moments you get for yourself! It may actually not get better for a long time. Was that awful to say?? It could be true. Just roll with it and live off those endorphins you get when he makes eye contact with you. I called that “mommy high”. Letting go a little made such a difference in my sanity. And one last thought regarding the baby weight… I quit the gym and gave myself a pass once I went back to work. I stopped beating myself up about it, vowed to focus my afternoon energy on savoring the giggles and playing hard with my little goof balls and made a few little manageable diet tweaks (like salads instead of sandwiches) and the pounds fell off. (I never even said no to ice cream!) I suddenly became the person I once envied ( and loathed). Sometimes I still can’t believe it. And one last preachy voice paragraph for you… Give yourself the credit that everyone who knows you already gives you. We know you are an amazing teacher and mom. I would love to have a job in a school where you are principal and I am sure many other colleagues you have worked with would say the same. You’ll get there. Give yourself a chance to breath and be proud of all you do everyday.


    • I am so glad you said that about the sleep training. I have a hunch that we all could write a book about raising children and while there might be some overlapping truths, the most common theme would be that every child has completely different needs. Sigh. That’s encouraging and discouraging all at the same time. 🙂

      Thank you for the encouragement about the eating. I’m going to accept it without any self deprecating talk and just trust that I will not always weigh twenty (forty) pounds more than I want to. And in the meantime I will try to eat more healthy than not and try to move around some.

      Thanks, Justine!


  2. I was gonna link you to a cool image of this, but I am apparently just not that tech savvy. So you just get the text version of my favorite jogging-so-slowly-the-grannies-are-speed-walking-around-me phrase:
    “No matter how slow you’re going, you’re still lapping the people on the couch.”
    Also, I invite you to read about my own runner’s high in this blog post from a couple years back:
    If you want. No pressure. 🙂


    • Loved your post! I left a comment, not sure I’m tech savvy enough that it worked. But know that I think you’re awesome and I will run slowly in solidarity with you any time. 🙂


  3. Rachel,
    I found your blog through a link a friend posted to facebook a few weeks ago and have been gobbling up your posts, even foraging in your archives for more nuggets of ‘Me toooo!’ moments. Can I just get all groupie for a moment and say, THANK YOU for your writings. I am relating closely with so many of the experiences you’ve shared, from the brutal honesty of a photograph, to ‘sleep’ training, to getting back into running. By running, I mean walking(for now), and yeah, exercise videos. Motto: Do what you can, starting where you are.
    Which is to say relish whatever gets yer buns movin’. From one condiment chaser to another, Cheers!


    • Hannah, thank you!! Great encouragement, indeed. 🙂 And believe me, my “running” right now is mostly walking. But we have to stick together and support each other, even if only to say, “Me, too!” Cheers!


  4. Go Rachel go! Enjoy the process and what you learn along the way 🙂 running is a gift and a curse. But the. You remember, of course it’s a gift (albeit a sometimes painful one) because I have these awesome mobile legs and feet and toes and arms to pump, and muscles to build (and ache) and brows to furrow and someone out there just wishes they could ache the way I do right now. So go with the flow and get yo run on! Be blessed in your transition and take it one new, adventurous day at a time. Seeing as how I seem to keep avoiding my runs I have no expert advice. But I’m rooting for you (and on the days I run I’m aching with you too) 😀


  5. There is such a thing as runner’s high, but I don’t think it is common. I’ve experienced it. Rachel, as long as you are moving, you are more active than most of the population, so take pride in that. Couple other things: I spent many hours with Arne 28 years ago pushing him in one of the first running strollers in town. (I could have sold a lot of those, as no one had them at that time – I ordered it out of the back of Runner’s World.) That way you spend time with the baby, get a really good workout in (see, look for ways to make running even harder!), and you model a way of life for the kid…everyone wins. Finally, after about 35,000 miles, one of my knees DID give out. I switched to biking a year ago and just realized that when I get up in the morning, I’m not stiff and my legs don’t hurt. So, I never thought I’d say it, because I really loved running, but perhaps other lower impact activities are better for the legs. The key thing is to burn the cals, get your heart going and have fun. There are many ways to do that, and running might not be the best way for everyone. Oh, and I was pretty competitive and I’ve been passed by all manner of fruits, vegetables, super heroes, animals, guys carrying huge flags, etc. Not to mention guys much older than me. Choose to be inspired by it, not depressed. It’s all good. And good for you – have fun!


    • Dan! Thank you for the encouragement! It is super exciting to think about how moving puts me ahead. And we have a great jogging stroller–that Doug pushes. 🙂 He uses the walk/run cycle to do a sprint workout. It’s actually works out conveniently. And I don’t love biking, but maybe I can be convinced. 😉


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s