7.23.2013

This Euphoria Inducing Stimulant Called Life

I wonder if too much eustress is bad for you.

Eustress is the type of stress commonly known as "good stress" in the vernacular.

Last week I made a fitness pact with myself to do a moderately intensive aerobic workout every weekday. Normally I bike commute to get my aerobic workout, but due to scheduling conflicts, I am often only able to bike commute two times a week, or thrice at best.

Last week I was only able to bike commute one day. So in order to complete my challenge, I ran a 5k each morning when I was unable to bike, including Wednesday morning, which is a rough one because of my late night on Tuesday for jazz night at the Mason Lounge.

Needless to say, I accomplished my personal fitness challenge.

But the side effects amazed me. I have never been much of a runner. When I would run here and there, I would feel really good afterwards (the runner's high is very real), but I had no consistency to run for several consecutive days in a row.

I thought that I would feel good after each run, like I normally do. But I did not realize that the euphoric runner's high would carry over from day to day and amplify with each subsequent run. I have never felt higher on life than I did at the end of last week. So positive and mentally sharp and just floating on a magic carpet of euphoria.

I have no idea what opiates are like, because they have too bad of a reputation for me to ever try them, but my understanding is that they activate endorphin receptors in the body, which explains their euphoria inducing and pain killing mechanism.

I guess I am probably high on my own natural endorphins. As I said in a previous post, running is painful for me, while I am doing it. That is probably why I lack the follow through normally, unless I make a daily fitness challenge for myself like I did last week.

However, my body's natural response to the pain of running is to produce massive quantities of endorphins to fight the pain of it. I have no idea what the half life of natural endorphins is in the body, but for me, the euphoria and stimulant effects last for the better part of the day. I am totally energized at work and I stay sharp into the evening when I have to practice music for jazz and upcoming shows.

So, now I want to keep running. I have become addicted to my own natural opiates. I wonder if that is bad? Can too much good stress be harmful? I can't imagine being this energized and euphoric all the time can be good. But I feel great. Clearly, something about running stimulates my frontal lobes. I guess that is probably adrenalin, not endorphins. The latter probably contribute to my euphoria with life, but adrenalin is probably causing the stimulant effects.

However, adrenalin is also an activator of the peripheral nervous system. So even if it is a result of good stress, could I be over activating my endocrine system, overworking my organs?

Conversely, adrenalin also stimulates glucose uptake by muscle tissue, so my body probably produces it for that reason, while I am running, so my muscles will have enough fuel, and the stimulant side effects are just the result of the adrenalin effects on my frontal lobes. This is speculative of course.

However, after my whole week of running and biking last week, I did not appear to lose any weight. That's perplexing. Clearly, if my body is producing adrenalin to assist with energy burning, I should be burning some fat. I usually run in the morning on an empty stomach, before I have eaten anything (although I do drink coffee, because I read that coffee augments calorie burning during exercise). And after I am done running, my basal metabolic rate is ramped up and I am usually not hungry until lunch time. I assume this is because I am in a fat burning mode after I run and my body is using fat as fuel for a while, until my basal metabolic rate comes down a bit and I get hungry.

I have no idea if any of this is true. I need a fitness expert to comment. All I know is that after my fitness challenge last week, which involved a ton of running 5k or longer, I felt like a million bucks. I am repeating the process this week, having run yesterday (Monday) and bike commuted today (which will end up being about 23 total miles once I bike commute the return trip).

So I don't really give a crap what is the cause of my highness on life. I am just wondering if there will be any detrimental down side of so much eustress.

What do you think?

Joe

p.s. It should be noted that in addition to completing my fitness challenge for all the week days last week, I also ran 4 miles in Oshkosh on Sunday with my buddy Todd. We had a nice jog down to lake Winnebago and back. I am using Map My Ride app to track my activities, and it seems like the app is working really well on my Samsung Galaxy S3 Android phone.

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