Many people suffer from some kind of addiction. Some claim to be addicted to dark chocolate. Foodies have an ardent passion for gourmet food. Sommeliers dig wine.
As a kid, my chemical dependency was candy. My mom would buy me a bag of gummy bears and I would proceed to inhale the entire contents of the bag in short order. This bag usually contained a solid pound of gummy bears. I simply could not control myself once the bag was open.
It was fortunate that I was a pretty active kid. My active lifestyle and youthful metabolism helped stave off any major weight gain. But, images of me from this period of my life paint a decidedly 'portly' picture.
Eventually, running would enter the picture. While it was a struggle to adjust to the demands of an activity that generates 3-5 times your body weight in impact force per footstrike, my body started to adapt after a few weeks. This adaptation led to discovery of the elusive and enigmatic 'runner's high'.
Once I felt this high, there was no turning back. This isn't to say candy was no longer in the picture (fuel is required to run), but the runner's high became my new addiction. Pandora's box was opened.
Years later when I was in college (and taking a sabbatical from running), I was exposed to marijuana. It was fortunate I discovered running before I discovered pot. There were elements of it that reminded me of the runner's high. I felt relaxed. I felt calm. The high I experienced was eerily familiar.
As it turns out, my instincts were correct. High levels of Anandamide (a cannabinoid naturally produced in the body) often appear in those who run at moderate intensity for about an hour. Anandamide is known to produce sensations that are similar to those of THC, the psychoactive property in marijuana.
While ultrarunning is not my bag, I understand why people are into it. Once you get high, you want more and more and more of it. 10 miles becomes 20 miles. 20 miles becomes 30. The next thing you know, you're running for 24 hours to get your fix.
Fortunately, I only require a few miles to get my fix. But, it's undoubtedly a chemical dependency. I need to get high.
If I go without running for a few days, there is withdrawal. I get edgy. I get anxious. I get impatient. My name is Matt Forsman and I run because I am an addict...