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Jimmy Rox shares why the runner's high really is the secret to happiness.

Before 2019, I've never officially done a 5K race. Growing up a sprinter until high school, running races as an adult was a foreign culture to me. However, when I lost my yiayia (grandma in Greek), I signed up for the Brooklyn Half Marathon because I was feeling a bit lost and in need of routine amidst the grief that I was feeling.

The plan was to never do a full marathon, but the day I ran 10 miles for the first time was a taste of the runner's high that I've heard so much about. I spent that night googling ways to qualify for the 26.2 mile race. Two years and a pandemic later, I will be running the New York City Marathon on November 7th.

But a runner's high even real?

Yes. Well, according to science. Now I'm not here to give you a biology lesson, but here is the gist: defined as a brief, deeply relaxing state of euphoria (a sense of extreme joy or delight), it occurs after a hard or lengthy workout such as running.

What's funny to me is that you need to put your body through such vigorous exercise to reach that state of calmness. During my longer runs, I find myself literally laughing to myself and smiling, completely alone on the street. Have I gone mad or have I found the key to happiness? Hitting mile 15, I'm waving to my shadow and feeling so f*cking good…and loopy. Very loopy.

Happiness is not the only thing you get from the runner's high.

On this ~high~, I learned a few things about myself.

Firstly, I learned that (not to sound cliche) but you really can do anything you set your mind to. Throughout my 5 months of training, I never thought I'd wake up one day and casually say “hey, I'm gonna go run 20 miles today”. But I did it and immediately drove to McDonald's and ordered a Quarter Pounder and large fries followed by an ice bath. You'll always surprise yourself with what you're actually capable of.

And secondly, not just in running but with anything, I've learned that people will try to put you in a box, and you can't let that get to you. From how someone perceives you, maybe based on where you're from, your career or what you post on social media, these randos (even friends) have a preconceived notion on what you can do, and what you cannot. Ignore it. This is bullsh*t and you can't give into it.

Too many people openly expressed disbelief, usually along with a laugh that I was doing the marathon. Rude, right?

Whether you're running a marathon, pouring your heart into a new hobby or killin' it at your job, don't let anyone try to minimize hard work or something that brings you so much joy. It's taught me to really own my sh*t and it's made me more confident than ever.

And the last thing I'll say about training for a marathon, is that it's not totally about running. It's a mental game. I've been thinking a lot about how I can bring this runner's high energy into other aspects of my life. Things that don't include running 10 miles to experience a sense of calmness and happiness. Maybe it's starting that side hustle I've always put to the side, or planning that trip my best friends and I always say we'll take. Running keeps me balanced, and it's about carving time out for yourself in this busy world we live in.

Stay high,


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(Photo by Eliana Petrides @maisonhliana)

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