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Ever get a "runner's high" while cycling?(13 posts)

Ever get a "runner's high" while cycling?bianchi boy
Sep 27, 2003 10:48 AM
I had a new experience today while riding. I was cruising along at a fast pace (20+ avg) about 25 miles into a 68-mile ride, and started feeling very strange -- almost an out-of-body experience. I felt like my mind was separated from my body and the voices of people talking around me all sounded very wierd, like they were somewhere else. I was riding very strong (for me) and climbing well, and didn't feel like I was short of breath or tired. The closest thing I can compare it to was a runner's high I used to occasionally get while running long distances. I have never had this happen before while cycling, although I usually get the same post-ride feeling of euphoria that I used to have after running.
Very Rarelypeter in NVA
Sep 27, 2003 11:40 AM
I too used to get it all the time when I was into marathon running (15 years ago!) and have been puzzled why it's so rare riding. The only time I have had it was after a long mountain bike climb-3 hours continuous. Maybe there's too much *thinking* involved in operating a bike to let you get lost in yourself.
Fine line between high and bonking ;)filtersweep
Sep 27, 2003 11:47 AM
"feeling very strange -- almost an out-of-body experience. I felt like my mind was separated from my body and the voices of people talking around me all sounded very wierd, like they were somewhere else."

Exactly how I also feel when I'm bonking-

The euphoria rather determines it, though.

I've NEVER had a runner's high- but riding just feels good all around except for a few rare occasions.

There is the issue of awareness of traffic, riders around me, etc... but it isn't exactly a cognitive function of the mind- at least it shouldn't be.

I think that is why it is so easy to be all bent about rude drivers- they yank me out of my zone.
nowhere near bonkingbianchi boy
Sep 27, 2003 1:20 PM
I was only 25-30 miles into a 68 mile ride when it happened, and I had plenty of energy the whole way. I've never bonked before, but this didn't fit any description of bonking I've ever heard.
I was just kidding--- nmfiltersweep
Sep 27, 2003 3:45 PM
I'd have your bottle contents analyzed (nm)Kerry Irons
Sep 27, 2003 3:23 PM
A few times, usually on rides with a lot of climbing. nmMg1
Sep 27, 2003 4:02 PM
I call it the "zen" of climbingBergMann
Sep 27, 2003 6:52 PM
This used to happen to me all the time as a college racer when I would train alone in the Santa Ynez (MTNS around Santa Barbara, CA). I'd often get back from a 3-4 hour ride and realize that I had no clear recollection of events after the first 90 minutes or so -- like my body had abducted my mind and returned it at my doorstep.

Epic MTB climbing sessions will do the same for me, even these days. Probably the combination of endorphins, thinner air, and some forced intervals in oxygen debt.

I work in an ivory tower institution, and it's these out-of-body experiences that help me escape the "life of the mind" and keep me sane.

Try it again alone sometime and see if you can trigger the same response. If there's no one else around to distract you, I predict you'll find the experience even more amazing -- the closest you'll likely ever come to a state of pure "doing" without any cognitive dissonance thrown in to ruin the sensation.

Congrats on having broken through!
So... Master... Honestly, how do I achieve this amazing state?BowWow
Sep 28, 2003 9:54 AM
I hope you aren't offended by the "Master" crack - I really *do* want to achieve this state. It sounds wonderful!

Is it something that just "happens" for you, or are there specific things that must occur leading up to the "breakthrough?" I ride nearly every day, but only for an hour. I manage to get longer rides in maybe three times a month, and do a couple of centuries each season. Do I need more daily mileage/time, more long days in the saddle, more....?

Or is it already happening and I just don't notice?

Grasshopper (trying to get the sound of one hand clapping out of my head...)
I knew that was coming (call it "karmic whiplash") ...BergMann
Sep 28, 2003 7:20 PM
Suppose all the sarcasm I've dealt out in this lifetime was bound to bounce back sooner or later.

I'm the first to admit that I'm waxing mystical about what is undoubtedly largely a physiological/biochemical thing.

That said, I've never really tried to analyze it. Although I would use a heartrate monitor for interval training as a college racer, there were a few years in between when I made a conscious decision to "liberate" myself from the tyranny of the cyclocomputer, so even if I had gone out with the intent of "quantifying" the experience, I doubt (a) that I would have achieved this state while riding with such a deliberate frame of mind and (b) that I would have thought to check my HRM/computer once I got there.

Like I said above, it happens to me on long, hard, extended climbs on days when I'm feeling good and really want to push the envelope. It's not about riding at your max - it's about a steady, sustained pace that high enough to take your mind off mundane things (shifting, your pedal stroke, etc.) without taking you to the point where you're hurting and you know it. That said, I don't think an hour's nearly enough. Northwards of 2 hours or so, however, anything is possible. I've ridden mountainbike marathons where I've spent significant portions of a 5 hour race in a veritable trance. I do know that I've _never_ experienced it, however, when riding shorter, high intensity events like criteriums or traditional XC races on a closed loop (which is probably a good thing, it would be a bummer to "wake up" from a euphoric state in the hospital).

If I had to guess, I'd say it probably happens when my heartrate is somewhere around 160-170 and I keep it pegged there for an extended time. I suppose now that I habitually ride with a heart rate monitor that downloads to a PC, I could wait for it to happen, and then analyze my data to see if there were some sort of correlation between gradient, distance climbed, heart rate etc.

Then again, that would probably kill the magic of it for me, and there's no saying that I'd be able to reproduce the phenomenon again even armed with that knowledge. I know from experience that the simple act of repeating the exact same route from a previous experience in the "zone," will not necessarily allow me to get there again, even if I hit the ride at the same pace.

Unfortunately I cannot reproduce this feeling simply upon demand, and thus there's no question of "mastery" here. It's probably some subtle combination of being strong, feeling good, and your system getting the substances in the biochemical cocktail just right (decent weather doesn't hurt either). As long as it doesn't go away for good though, I'm more than happy with being an eternal journeyman!
To borrow a phrase frequently seen at the bottom of posts around here: "be the bike!"
BergMann
No sarcasm intended...BowWow
Sep 28, 2003 8:53 PM
but you must admit that you painted a target, and I apologize for the light-hearted but unavoidable shots!

I fully understand the zen approach - I get into the zone while wrenching exotic machinery. I know that the bike really enjoys the attention, and the oneness with the metal brings an amazing sense of peace and transcendence for me.

I appreciate your attempt to quantify the mystical, and now have at least a clue to the "path." I believe I have approached that state on a couple of long rides, and even once or twice on my 23km training route.

This fall presents the perfect opportunity for me - foliage changing colors, cool air, warm sun, and a great 80 mile loop at the foot of the Canadian Rockies. Combine this with a new Cervelo and I think I'm on the way!

Photos to follow...

Oh, and good karma to ya!
Are you kidding? It's the reason I ride! NMbludoggy
Sep 28, 2003 9:22 AM
Fairly common when I ran, but rarely in cyclingCory
Sep 28, 2003 6:40 PM
Never thought about it before, but I'm not sure I've experienced anything like that on a bike. I ran 40-70 miles a week for about 15 years, and it used to happen fairly often. I can't say I've NEVER experienced it cycling, but I can't remember a specific instance.