Runner’s High

Anandamide, like THC, activates cannaboid receptors in the brain.  Unlike cannabis use, running regularly is a way to enjoy anandamide, that benefits mind and body.
How I got hooked
After college, I backpacked around Europe for almost a year.  I decided to take up jogging since it is an efficient work-out which requires no gym, instructor, class, pool, partner and no equipment other than running shoes.  I started my day with a run, so that I just took one shower and felt fabulously cheerful and clear-minded all day.
Although getting started was a slog, I soon looked forward to my daily jogs and became accustomed to my happier post-run days.  I was hooked (on anandamide :)
I have run almost everyday since that trip, including through medical school, internship and psychiatric residency.  Though I am not a “morning person”, I rose at 5:00am to fit in a short jog before arriving at the hospital at 6:30am, during surgery rotations.  It helped me be more focused for my work.  A run has become a bright foundation for my day.

Healthy Habit
Currently, I live across the street from a boardwalk overlooking the ocean and mountains: the perfect place for a daily run.  When I was injured after a bike accident, I hobbled along my running route.  Dozens of people, who I did not recognize, stopped me, “What happened?  I see you running here everyday.”  
Running can be a good form of transportation.  I often jog to work or for errands. Patients tell me they see me running, noting I practise what I preach.
While travelling, my running route helps check out a new neighborhood and entices me to explore parks and paths I may not otherwise find.
I have met new friends and sparked romances**  while on my daily runs, in my hometown and abroad.
For years, I aspired to run a marathon, but thought it was impossible.   In  2002, I joined a friend running the Ottawa marathon.  My goal was to run 42km, even if I had to crawl to finish line.
I completed it, (partly with his group’s pace:  run for ten minutes then walk a minute) in a bit over four hours.  Later in 2002, I joined another friend for the Victoria, B.C. marathon.  By omitting the walking portions, my overall time improved by almost half an hour.  Since then, I have run a total of seven marathons, including the Boston marathon.   I am really, really proud of meeting this challenge.
As long as your doctor ok’s it, it’s easy to start running.  Wear good quality running shoes and appropriate clothing.  Begin with jogging for a few minutes and then walking for a minute.  After awhile, the periods of jogging will be easier and longer, the walking less frequent.  Personal trainers usually recommend running 4 -5 times a week, balanced with other aerobic activities and weight-training.

Try it!
Whenever people tell me they have taken up running, I am so happy for them.  Friends report their runs are empowering, helping them stay slim, eat better, keep away from too much alcohol and think more clearly. Running can change your life, sparking a boost for self-esteema healthier body, sharper mind and oodles of joy.
 *  regular cannabis use is linked to depression, anxiiety,  poor concentration, low motivation, paranoia and schizophrenia.    See David Suzuki’s documentary online  “Downside of High”

**  folks from New Zealand, Italy, Israel, Germany, Australia

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