See when you're on a runner's high you're fucking invincible. You're the king of the world and everyone else is just a puny little subject waiting to be crushed beneath your fleet feet. You can go forever and the only thing that could possibly stop you would be like an asteroid or a comet or a muppet or something. You're Hermes and Perseus rolled into one taught-bellied tight-wound package.
Sure there's pain and points where you're gasping and sweating and feel like you couldn't continue for three more minutes, let alone another hour, but you fight through those and the endorphins kick in and you're Zeus, God of Thunder once more. The lows are few and far between and you sail along sending down giant strokes of lightning, missives from god, to any who dare oppose you.
Eventually you do stop though, for whatever reason, and you get off the treadmill or the jogging path feeling breathing hard and feeling great. You walk a little so you don't cramp and you sit down wiping the sweat off your forehead and feeling a satisfaction comparable to that you'd feel if you nailed Catherine Zeta Jones and Lindsay Lohan within two hours of each other.
Then the hurt starts to set in. It creeps up slowly at first, maybe a twinge in your hamstring or a little tightness in your back. The high starts to drain away and your muscles start speaking up, the basic message being "We are NEVER doing that again, and to make sure we NEVER have to do that again we are going to tighten up like a born-again Christian's pussy on re-baptism day." If you're lucky you make it to a bed or chair before they all clamp down and leave you twitching like Daniel Day Lewis from My Left Foot.
And it's worse than a heroin let down, not because it's more painful but because at least with a heroin let-down you know how to fix it. More delicious heroin, a simple recipe for a happy life. With the runner's high the LAST thing you want to do is run again, ever. You feel pretty confident that if a bear was chasing you you'd amble away, maybe moving into a brisk trot if he was gaining but you would NOT FUCKING RUN. Let him eat you, seriously, it's not worth the pain. You try a sports drink and maybe like eighteen glasses of water (Immediately bumping your weight up to above where it was when you started) but nothing helps. Later on in the evening when you leave your house you're like a cripple, limping and swaying from side to side while your calf muscles scream bloody murder and demand you never move again.
You spend the night tossing and turning, still chaffing in your sweat-soaked clothes because taking them off would involve actually lifting your legs which you are NOT PREPARED TO DO. Not at all. And you swear to yourself that you will NEVER EXERCISE AGAIN no matter how fat or sluggish you get.
Of course in a few days, and with a billion tablets of ibuprofen, the pain goes away and you start feeling good. You look back at the treadmill or the jogging path and your eyebrows raise. Maybe just a little jog. A few steps one in front of another. It's HEALTHY goddammit. It's for your own good. Do you want to DIE YOUNG?
So you get on, start putting one foot in front of another, and ten minutes later it's I'M KING OF THE WORLD, MA. KING OF THE WORLD! You're Zeus, you're Hermes, you're motherfucking Prefontaine, quicksilver fast in the last lap of that ill-fated Olympic run except that they're not going to catch YOU, no they'll never catch you.
High cometh before the fall.
So those of you who don't get the high, feel lucky. Very very lucky. You can measure out the exercise according to logic and reason. You never want to test your limits, see what you can do. You never say "Hey, I could EASILY double that time, why don't I?" When you know you're recovering from a strained calf and that it's a GODDAMNED STUPID IDEA. Only there's no stupid ideas for Zeus, he's the king of gods. He's invincible.
Still, the running is good for me, right? I mean it takes pounds off and it helps the heart and...
Oh shit. Here I go again.