Fire. Inside you. Burning from the bottom of your feet through your legs. Scorching it’s way up through your stomach and engulfing your lungs. The lava torches your feet. It destroys you, it incinerates you to the core, it burns your throat like a stiff shot of Fireball. You don’t know how much longer you can stand it. You’re almost ready to give up. The heat is too intense. The salty sweat drips down and stings your eyes like a thousand angry wasps. All you can think about is sweet, cold relief. Then, at the last minute, you feel it. Rising. There’s something happening. The same ashes that burned you down are now rising. They’re growing, billowing up through the debris. Cracking, crumbling through the volcano that has become your insides — it flies. It flaps its wings, keeping the embers alive. Your arms become gooseflesh. They start to sprout up like daffodils in the spring soil. Then you see them. Feathers. They’re poking through your arms and legs, lifting you up further and further. What’s happening? You’re scared. Should you embrace this or fight it? It seems as though you’ve entered a different dimension. Should you stop? No. You can’t. You won’t. You’re too far gone now. The ghost rider has a hold of you with his fiery chain wrapped about your chest is pulling you forwards. Is this hell or heaven? All you know is you want to keep going to find out. Earth is a distant memory. You feel weightless, as though you’re looking down at the world from outer space. You’re never coming back down.
According to Merriam Webster, a runner’s high is defined as “a feeling of euphoria that is experienced by some individuals engaged in strenuous running and that is held to be associated with a release of endorphins by the brain.” To many, this “feeling of euphoria” is so much more. It’s the one thing keeping them going. It’s the stress relief after a long day. It’s the weight lifted from your chest and the passion intertwined with your heart. It anchors you down and sets you free at the same time. Those who have experienced a “runner’s high” know it should be on the list with the seven wonders of the world. There’s no way this phenomenon is merely a “release of endorphins.” How could it be? It seems so much bigger than that. Don’t believe it. Don’t reduce it to just that. Scientists always try to explain things they don’t understand. Believe what you want to believe. There’s no limit to your imagination. I’m here to tell you to let your high bring you not just around the track, not just to the mile marker, but to wherever you want it to. Let it lift you to other worlds. Explore exotic lands and dance with the dinosaurs. Go to a place you’ve always wanted. Daydream and set your mind free. Let your run be your fantasy. Don’t forget that your sneakers are also your magic carpet.
Cameron Fluri is a student attending West Chester University. CF870541@wcupa.edu