Thursday, January 19, 2012


long chains of amino acids, or polypeptides, that are able to bind to the neuroreceptors in the brain and are capable of relieving pain in a manner similar to that of morphine. There are three major types of endorphins: beta-endorphins are found almost entirely in the pituitary gland, while enkephalins and dynorphins are both distributed throughout the nervous system. Scientists had suspected that analgesic opiates, such as morphine and heroin, worked effectively against pain because the body had receptors that were activated by such drugs. They reasoned that these receptors probably existed because the body itself had natural painkilling compounds that also bonded to those receptors. When scientists in the 1970s isolated a biochemical from a pituitary gland hormone that showed analgesic properties, Choh Li, a chemist from Berkeley, California, named it endorphin, meaning "the morphine within." Besides behaving as a pain reducer, endorphins are also thought to be connected to euphoric feelings, appetite modulation, and the release of sex hormones. Prolonged, continuous exercise contributes to an increased production of endorphins and, in some people, the subsequent "runner's high." (American Heritage Science Dictionary)

here's my thought.
the definition above states that the exercise must be prolonged and continuous to increase endorphin production . . . I'm thinking that one of my power camp classes might not be long enough, nor would a simple climb up to the top of emigration . . . yet I often feel this powerful sense of good (not sure if I can get to euphoria!) after a time trial like today's class, and at the top of hills.
so . . . might what I experience simply be a mental woo hoo--a sense of pride, accomplishment, proof of capability--and not a purely physiological event?
when I bike for hours and hours (certainly that qualifies for prolonged and continuous) I don't usually experience a state of euphoria (except, perhaps, for brief moments at the tops of hills).

just thinking.

years ago my sister-in-law asked me if I experienced a "runner's high" when cycling, and I said, no, not really. or if I do, it seems to always coincide nicely with a downhill swoosh . . .

so those are my thoughts about endorphins, sparked by today's time trial, which allowed me to experience--at its completion--a pretty darn great feeling, almost euphoric, mostly because I survived it, and even more so because

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