I can sort of track my recent descent into funkiness as starting around the time I got back from Boston. While there, I went for a run and got a little lost because they don’t know how to lay roads and ended up having to run up a big set of stairs to get to a bridge to get back to our hotel. I’m pretty sure that’s when I tweaked my knee.
As is usually the case, little injuries like that flare into larger ones and after I ran when I got home (ignoring the tweaky knee because I’m stupid), it hurt enough that I had to stop running. I even had a hard time just walking up stairs. Fucker hurt. That led to several weeks of no running at all and that’s when my mental state went from its usual OKness to pretty bad.
The low point was last week and into the start of this one. But in that time, I’ve run five times and gone about 14 miles and my knee hasn’t hurt hardly at all. And each day, I’ve felt better. Yesterday and today (I ran this morning), I feel really good. The stuff I’m dealing with is still back there. Lurking. I can hear it shuffling around in the shadows. But it’s not in front of me. It’s under control.
As I was pondering the affect running was having on me, an article popped up on my Facebook feed from the New York Times called “Homing In on the Source of Runner’s High.”
[E]ndorphins may be unfairly hogging the credit for making workouts enjoyable, according to an enlightening new experiment with animals. The findings suggest that endorphins have little to do with runner’s high. Instead, that euphoric feeling may be the product of a completely different but oddly familiar substance — the body’s own endocannabinoids, the chemicals that, like the cannabinoids in marijuana, lighten mood.
Apparently, endorphins are too big to get through the blood-brain barrier but these homemade cannabinoids aren’t. In lab studies on mice, it seems to make them less anxious.
On the other hand, my improvement in mood also coincides with writing two posts about it here and having my first visit with a therapist, so I don’t know if I can attribute the difference entirely to my endocannabinoids production, but it really does feel like running, while not solving my problems, goes a long way towards keeping them manageable. I’m going to start paying a lot more attention to the relationship between my cardio routines and my mood from here on out.