The Chemistry of a Runner's High


The runner’s high is a mysterious happy feeling that is caused by the feeling of stress during a stressful cardiovascular activity. This high provides athletes superhuman affects. I chose this topic because I am a runner and currently have experienced this “high”, but it only occurs at certain moments. This feeling plays a major role in people’s lives because it is what keeps athletes to motivated to continue working out. The effect of the high helps conquer harder workouts for the everyday athlete.Composition of ...Composition of....

The main components of the runner’s high are stress, exercise and anandamide. In this situation the stress is caused by physical pain or stress on the body, Exercise is an activity requiring physical effort and it helps with health and physical improvement if the body. The last component is anandamide. Anandamide (C22H37NO2) is activated when stress and pleasure is present in the body.

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

The very first step to a runner’s high is vigorous exercise. The activity does not have to be running, but almost any cardiovascular activity. Stress on the body is the next step for causing a runner’s high. When the body begins to feel stressed during a workout, the body panics and asks for help. Anandamide (C22H37NO2) is a fatty acid that helps the brain feel certain emotions, like pain and pleasure. This fatty acid can go through the blood barrier in the brain. The area the fatty acid travels to the cannabinoid receptor in the brain.

Chemistry's Role

The two main components of the runner’s high is exercise and anandamide. These two components are naturally occurring. Exercise is created by a person’s motivation to stay healthy. Exercise is in motion when the participants heart rate is elevated along with their breathing. The exercise is the key to creating the runner’s high because it is the kickoff point for the high. The exercising activates the anandamide molecules. The goal of these fatty acids is to get to the cannabinoid receptor in the brain. The fatty acids squeezes through the blood barrier to this area of the brain, This high is not man made. It is created just by the human body alone. It is a very powerful feeling that has been present since the beginning of the human race.

Background Research

This is a chemical reaction. The body is stressed or in pain and then this triggers the body to block out the pain with a happy feeling. The happy feeling replaces the feeling of pain and fatigue.


The history of the runner’s high

The cause of the runner’s high

Areas of the brain that is affected by the high

The understanding of leptins in the brain

The creation of motivation

The connection of the endorphins and morphine

The dangers

The experience

Who the high can affect

The emotional appeal

The discovery of the high and the location

The understanding of anandamide

Explanation of anandamide and how it works

About the Author

Savannah Logulo is a junior at Senior High School. She loves to travel and enjoys the company of her family. She has a love of animals and has two dogs with one cat at home. She has lettered in Cross Country twice and plans to go to Montana University of Bozeman to an automotive engineer.