Adrenaline and Endorphins Are My Drugs

The act of running floods the brain and body with endorphins, the rush of these feel-good hormones isn’t all that different from a drug-induced high. Those drugs being the ones you get on the streets; there are other kinds of ‘drugs’ that in the sport of running don’t call to mind images of strung-out addicts on the street shooting up.
runner legs for miles
These drugs bring to mind images of runners floating on air, setting records, bulging muscles, endurance that seems inhuman and then being able to kick like a monster. It seems inhuman because it is, there are drugs involved. I’d call them steroids but at this point the science in that area is so advanced who knows what in the heck it really is, the bottom line is they are performance enhancing drugs.

It’s been quite the year for drug busts; I know I’m a little late in Facebooking, Twittering or posting about the recent article in which running Christian Hesch admits to using drugs and explaining what it felt like. I’ll be honest, I hesitated because I wasn’t really sure if it was worth posting about; I like to keep things positive here or on the up and up but the truth is drugs are ever-present in our sport. It’s sad, it’s not only limited to the top of the top (Hesch proves that, he was in that floater, limbo area), and it’s naive to think everyone is clean. BUT it’s fact, and I also know there are many athletes who ARE totally clean. While it is disgusting to have to line up next to someone you know is dirty, in the end you CAN’T control what others are ever going to do. You can only control your own actions, your own training and what it comes down to is this: Are you going to compete clean?

You can’t let the actions of other dictate your decision there. Runners have given the excuse that, ‘if I wanted to be able to compete with the dirties, then I have to level the playing field.’ That’s a cop out and a way they are trying to rationalize their decision to play dirty. It’s showing weak morals and only perpetuating the problem of drugs in the sport of running.

run curious

…by curious, I mean be curious of what YOUR personal best is, not getting sucked into the ‘who is/who isn’t’ game.


While it is such a shame there will be questions of ‘who is dirty and who is clean’ when we witness remarkable performances, and those awe-inspiriting moments are sometimes tainted by the questions; the thing is, that there ARE the athletes still competing who are clean, true to their sport, to themselves, and THEIR performances are worth more than any kind of world record or feat done on drugs.

True, as a spectator, it’s easy to get sucked into the ‘who is and who isn’t’ game. It’s just as easy to point a finger as it is to hold out hope; I get that. I suppose my own point is that I DO know that not everyone is on something and for those athletes I cheer for them extra loud and their results, be it an off-day or an Olympic Medal, merit that much more respect in my eyes.

The trickle down of drugs, to us mortal runners, isn’t to the point where one busts out the drug testing kit at the finish of the local 5k. Maybe so, who knows where you live! But the article I think, addresses our all morbid curiosity relating to performance enhancing drugs, “What the he## is it like?!”

True to form, we have our answer and is it really all that surprising? It makes running feel a whole lot better, the times come easier, and you, duh, run faster.

But let’s flip that…it makes running easier. It strips away a portion of the gruelfest that defines our sport. Sure, the little part of your brain that is aways begging you to BACK OFF and cut it some slack may be tempted to peace out on some of the pain. But, isn’t the mental battle of running, when you come out the victor and push yourself harder than you thought possible worth a he## of a lot more? Just my thoughts.

You can’t control the actions of other, only your own. You can CHOOSE to run your @$$ off or you can shoot up instead. I’d like to think adrenaline and endorphins (manufactured the old fashioned, personally secreted glad way, thank you very much!) are the way to go.

1) Had you read the Christian Hesch article prior to this?

2) What are your thoughts on performance enhancing drugs? How many runners do you feel are using them?

3) What do you feel is the trickle down effect, if any, to mortal runners when it comes to these drugs?

4) What’s your drug of choice?
Running…errrr…maybe Pop-Tarts too. ;)

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26 thoughts on “Adrenaline and Endorphins Are My Drugs

  1. I feel like this puts our sport in the news for the wrong reasons. Honestly, I don’t think performance enhancing drugs are common with runners because for the most part we tend to be chill, honest, laid back people. You’re way more likely to read a news article about a runner helping a fallen teammate cross the finish than someone doping.

    Haha, my drug of choice is froyo… hey it always makes me feel good! That and coffee :).

  2. I think that this was a really great post! I had no clue and would never even think that normal runners were using drugs. I could never, ever stick a needle in my arm. I don’t even like taking Midol but I have to. lol.

    I had not heard of this guy’s story before. I have to say, I don’t just think he was doing it for the money (although $40,000 is a lot). I think he was also doing it for the rush, just like the normal runner’s high that we get, only magnified because it comes with the rush of winning.

  3. Cait! I find this topic so interesting….Mainly because I am new to the whole running thing and love it merely for the fun of it. Being able to see the changes in my times, distance, legs….etc… is a pretty cool thing. I think that I would ask the one question…How do you know you “can’t” go that far without the enhancements??? It’s almost like whoever takes the drugs doesn’t have the confidence in their own ability or God given talent that they have for running.
    Great post!!

  4. What a great post Cait…and I agree fully on the perks of adrenaline and endorphins :) Of course, I also realise how big a problem drugs can be in sports and I truly don’t know how to estimate how far those effects go. It’s disheartening sometimes.

  5. I read the stuff about Hesch a couple of days ago when it came out. Although I was pretty surprised that someone at the sub-elite level would do something like this, I always thought Hesch was a bit of a toolbag, so in that sense i’m not surprised someone like him would take advantage of people.

    I’m disgusted by any form of cheating in all sports, so I am always annoyed by these 2-year bans. If they want to really get rid of it, they need some type of zero-tolerance. First offense = banned for life. I have no mercy with this type of thing. I could write a book on this, so I better stop. Plus Hesch is just an attention-seeker, so i’m not going to waste anymore time thinking about his dumb *ss.

    • S..don’t even get me started, he is so deplorable it makes me sick! lol. i’m with u, i don’t get why the bans are so lax…funny fact: if a man were to get a sex change, their ban from the sport before competing as a woman would be MORE than a cheater ban!

  6. I had NEVER even thought about drug use for runners. I have no idea why I assumed running would be any cleaner than any other sport.

    I’d like to think that recreational runners wouldn’t go down that road but we runners can be obsessive by nature and maybe that’s just the kind of person that could get caught up in this.

    Running is totally my drug and yeah I don’t know what the other kind of high would feel like but I am convinced nothing could top the sweat and performance natural ones I get from a run. And bonus they are natural and legal!

    Imagine wanting something SO much you are willing to compromise yourself and your morals (if you have them) and put something like that in your body…honestly I can’t imagine. Winning is great but its not EVERYTHING!

  7. I had;n’t heard about this story, but it’s always an interesting topic. I love what you have to say about the satisfaction you get from doing it clean, and hurting your way through. I have no idea how many runners are using, but I feel like there’s a lot of grey area, and so many supplements and chemicals available that it takes awhile to ban something – can you be dirty without being officially dirty?

    My drug of choice is running, for sure! I get so high off those endorphins (hm, maybe I should get your ‘addicted to track’ pic). Also people. There is no buzz to draw you up and improve your performance than a crowd and your own personal supporters!

  8. Performance drugs would def not be for me.
    I think pain and struggle and hard runs and slow runs are what running is all about.
    Plus I would always feel like I was cheating.

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  11. This is a pretty hot topic recently. I never really associated performance enhancing drugs as a big part of the running community but unfortunately I don’t think any sport is above it at this point (well, maybe table tennis?;). Last week I watched a ESPN 30 for 30 episode about steroid of runners during the 1988 Olympics. It was very interesting. You should check it out!

  12. Wow, that is crazy. The name Christian Hensch sounds vaguely familiar, but I had not heard that story – It would never occur to me that the top runners are doping, but i’m incredibly naive and think everyone is honest and would “never” cheat. … Clearly I’m wrong.

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