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050: The Benefit of Running Away From Your Problems

podcast Jun 17, 2021
 

I don’t think anyone has given you the advice before to just run away from your problems, well I take pride in being the first then. 

 Let me explain what I mean by that though. What I’m really talking about today is runner’s high.  

Running has become one of my flow triggers and I’m a big proponent of everyone getting into it. I love it for the ease of literally only needing running shoes, and technically there are even barefoot runners out there but I’m not that hardcore.  

But before you just fall into defense mode about how you’ve tried it before and you hate running, and believe me, it took me awhile before I got into it also, but once you get those feelings of euphoria after a run you might start to change your mind.  

Actually, chemically you are starting to change your brain, so let’s start there. For me, about 20 minutes into it the pain and discomfort melts away, I start to think and see things a lot clearer, I have deeper thoughts and connections between things, and I have this feeling of I’m just in go mode, there is no stopping or slowing down.  

The 2 main chemicals responsible for creating a runner’s high are called endorphins and endocannabinoids. Endorphins are produced in the central nervous system and are a morephine-like opioids.  Endocannabinoid, yes are similar to cannabis, but they are the body’s natural version of THC and they produce a natural high.  

Exercise and running are some of the best and quickest ways to get out of your head, when you're in a negative mood and going in circles. Go for a run and the prefontal cortex in your brain releases these chemicals producing a natural painkiller.   

Thanks to Dr. Arne Dietrich, a professor at the American University of Beirut, we also know a little more about what’s happening and it’s called: 

 Transient Hypofrontality 

Transient means temporary—as in it’s in the moment and not lasting long.  

“Hypo” is a prefix meaning “less,” as in the opposite of “Hyper”- meaning more. 
And the “frontality” refers to the the prefrontal cortex, the frontal lobes of our brains. This area controls our decision-making, analytical processes, judgement, systemic thinking, keeping things in order 

So Transient Hypofrontality, means that for a while, under the right flowy conditions, the inner critic and judgement part of our brain shuts down. This allows other parts and functions, opposite of focused thinking, to become more dominant. 

Scientifically that’s what’s going on in the brain when we exercise and go into a runner’s high. When I started to develop a running habit I began to feel physically and emotionally stronger. I became more in tune with my overall senses.  

When you make it a habit you begin to think differently and are able to creatively problem solve better, and it has lasting effects too. Sometimes you feel it for hours afterwards too.  

So when I say there are benefits to running away from your problems, there really are. When you are stuck on a business problem or life drama has you stressed out, you’ll be able to leave those problems behind, clear your mind, and eventually naturally be able to sort those problems out in a creative way. I do this all the time now when I need to get in the zone quickly.  

I encourage you to actively distract yourself with running, the physical activity will force your brain to redistribute its energy to other areas, and you’ll find yourself in a wonderful alternate state of consciousness. This is where the magic of flow happens and helps you sort out a variety of issues.  

So yes, you’ve never heard it before but I’m encouraging you to run away from your problems. You just might find that as you continue running, those problems will work themselves out and you’ll be able to continue running and enjoy the moment.  

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