All The Highs That Are Better Than A Runner’s High

I am never closer to death than I am in the 25th minute of a 30 minute run. I look at the people on the treadmills around me and they actually seem happy. Dancing along in their flattering workout clothes, sweating just enough to look glistening and invigorated, it’s a sickening display. Especially when I glance at the mirror in front of me and wonder why no one has called the cops. Saggy sweatpants, a worn out t-shirt from a blood drive that I definitely never donated to, and a look on my face that says “at least when the heart attack comes, I’ll be allowed to stop moving my legs.” Seriously, every time I finish jogging, I’m shocked not to see Noah Wyle standing behind me with paddles in his hands yelling “Clear!”

But other people genuinely seem to enjoy this running nonsense. Often times they’ll do it with friends, make a little activity out of it. To me, that’s like bringing a witness with you to commit a murder. Why would I want anyone to watch the atrocity of fitness that I’m about to commit, much less a person I know and care about? I don’t want people to see me work out, I don’t even want to see it myself. I’d run in a windowless room with the lights out if I could. Solitary confinement: that’s my idea of the perfect gym. But when I’m finished, when I’m done with my daily death march, I’m happy. Both because I’m still alive, and because I’m never furthest from the next jog then the minute after I’ve finished the current one. For the next 24 hours I can be fitness free, and that makes me smile. But the happiness doesn’t last. Because the second I smile, the minute I show actually human joy, another fellow runner, one of the glistening gorgeous few, will walk up to me and say “Runner’s high, right man? It’s the best.” And then everything’s ruined.

There’s no greater exaggeration known to man than that of the runner’s high. Despite my complete hatred for the activity, I’ve been a regular runner for over 10 years. I’ve also been a regular enjoyer of highs over that same period, so I can assure you, the two have very little in common. “Oh Look, All The Treadmills Are Taken, So Now I Have An Excuse Not To Run Today High”…that totally exists. Or the “I’m So Hungover That I Think I’d Puke If I Tried To Run High”…definitely a thing. But the elation of cardio? Give me a break. Satisfaction, sure, but calling it a high is a insult to everything else that makes you totally high. So, in the hope that no jogger ever walks up to me after another workout again, here is a list of many highs that are better than a runner’s high.

  • Tom Selleck Moustache High (the little jolt you get just from seeing Selleck’s Stache)
  • Sweet, There’s Still Vodka Left in This Bottle High
  • Getting a New Release from Netflix that You Totally Expected to Wait Weeks For High
  • Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin, Vicodin, Percocet, Alcohol, Angel Dust, PCP, Opium, Ecstasy, Acid, Shrooms and Meth High (Note that we did not include crack. Running is actually better than crack. Crack is not something humans should do.)
  • Farting in Public and Not Getting Caught High
  • Hey, That Guy’s Still Alive High (when you see an actor in a movie that you could’ve sworn was dead.)
  • Unexpected Voicemail High (when you call someone you really didn’t want to talk to and magically get their voicemail.)
  • Eating Something Off the Salad Bar at Wholefoods without Getting Caught High
  • Moving a Couch High (similar in effort to the Runner’s High, except your couch is in a new place. Tangible progress)
  • Meeting an Internet Date That Actually Looks Like Their Pictures High (Particularly potent for OKCupid users, due to rarity of occurrence)

and last but not least… 

  • Open Window High (Yes, opening a window in a stuffy room actually gets you more high that going for a run)

And of course there are many, many more. So we never have to hear about Runner’s High again, right? TC mark

image – Shutterstock


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  • Kevin Pritchard

    You’re doing it wrong.

  •!/laireni Lauren

    the wholefoods one is legit though

  • Nicole Saenz

    finding a geocache high.

  • milajaroniec

    Lol cue onslaught of comments about endorphins and oxytocin.

    I feel you though. I run 5 times per week and it is the worst.

    • Brian Donovan

      Ha ha, I expect that too, Mila. Though in my opinion there is no endorphin that feels better than sitting down.

  • Joseph Merrick (@DESURRECTION)

    Add PCP/Angel Dust to the list of things no human should ever do.

  • Athlete

    sucks to suck, bro

  • G-ster

    “Having gas in the car” high. “Finding your lost credit card in your pocket before you call and cancel it” high. “Your George Brett rookie card went up in value because of another pine tar incident” high. “Realizing you don’t need to go to Petco to buy dogfood because you already have a bag in the garage” high. It’s the little things in life that matter.

  • G-ster

    I forgot one: “finding $20 in the dryer”

    • Brian Donovan

      If I ever found $20 in the dryer I would never need to drink again.

  • jackie

    haha hilarious and SO TRUE

  • Non-runner

    Might I suggest finding a new fitness routine? There are a million different physical fitness routines that aren’t the sheer torture that running is. To me running = death so i’m with you. But biking, walking, hiking, canoeing, yoga – those things don’t suck, they also don’t make me want to punch the other perky runners in the face. J

    • Brian Donovan

      I’ve tried many alternatives, but the terrible awful truth of running is that works really well. From a fitness and misery perspective.


    “in the 25th minute of a 30 minute run” “on the treadmills”

    Well, there’s your problem. The runner’s high comes from breaking through the barrier between what your brain thinks is physically possible and what your body is physically capable of doing. It only sets in after you’ve run to the point where you have to stop, yet keep going. I’ve gotten high off eight of the drugs you list and several that you don’t, and I’ve gotten high off of various physical activities–whitewater rafting, skydiving, sex, and, for a couple years early in life, war. I’ve also run an hour a day since I was 15. My point is, you can’t set yourself a 30 minute treadmill run and expect to reach the other side. The ‘runner’s high’ is reached by approaching death, not physical death but conscious mental death, where the brain is left behind somewhere on the track and your body moves itself. In this state I have sometimes accessed the most profound psychedelic experience, akin to a dream state, where bizarre visuals, passages and conversations flow unheeded through the mind. I suspect this is a prelude to the full blown hallucinations experienced by participants in endurance challenges, like the champion cross-country cyclist who, days into his ride, begins to see himself surrounded by mounted swordsmen and the chaos of battle.

    Of course, the question remains: is it worth it? Well, unlike drugs, unlike alcohol, it’s a high that you take, not a high that takes. I never feel depleted afterwards, just invigorated. While getting high on mdma is as easy as swallowing or snorting, and as hard as the day after, the true runner’s high is hard to reach, but the high isn’t even the reward. The ability to go further than yourself–that’s what you run for.

    • Mung Beans (@mung_beans)


    • Brian Donovan

      Well that sounds just awful.

    • G-ster

      I just threw up in my mouth.

  • Austin

    Smoke some, Arnold Schwarzenegger style, then run. That’s a runner’s high.

    • Brian Donovan

      Ha. I like it.

  • Sophia

    I tried the whole “pass your mental barrier” and ending up throwing up; I hadn’t thrown up in eight years prior to the event. Where’s my high?!

  • l

    you obvi have never smoked a bit of crack before. i mean id never do meth but i smoked some crack and then browsed H&M pretty cool and chill.

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