Desperately Seeking Endorphins

Like many of us creative types, exercise is part of my ‘process’. I rely on it to help me figure out complicated points in a story, or ruminate on what motivates a character, or organize my authorpreneurship business. What I don’t rely on it for is a ‘high’.

That’s right, you heard me. I don’t get that surge of joy, the runner’s high, or anything else remotely like the endorphin rush you are supposed to feel.

I am desperately seeking my endorphins.

I’ve always been something of an exercise nut. I go through years when I work out almost every single day. Then I quit for no apparent reason (except perhaps boredom), and it takes the threat of weight gain to push me back in. I don’t love it, but I still do it, probably because I’m STILL looking for those good little chems coursing through my system. (I’m stubborn that way.)

I’ll use today as an example. I jogged for three miles in the pre-dawn hours. In one ear, a playlist specifically designed to keep my feet moving ran its beat through my ear bud. Bird songs filled the other ear. Three miles in fifty minutes (knees in recovery, so I’m slow), and yet, no buzz.

I do achieve many creative things while I work out. Today, I dealt with messy problems in the first few chapters of a fiction work in progress. Last week, the elliptical helped me figure out the release strategy for my next two books. In the past, I’ve also used this active time to develop solutions for consulting clients with terrific success.

But no feel-good natural opioids. I feel cheated!

My current thinking is that perhaps – and this is just my theory – the endorphins end up feeding my productive process rather than my workout high. It could be possible, considering how useful this time of activity is for my creativity. Maybe the expected euphoria is cycling into another, higher (in my food chain) purpose – goosing my muse.

True to my wonky form, I have attempted to research this, but with little success. Endorphins are natural pain inhibitors (useful with my knees). A significant number of studies talk about the validity of the runner’s high, how the body generates these neuropeptides, and how great they are in dealing with depression.

I’m not depressed. I’m creative. There’s a difference!

So I’m asking you, creatives – does exercise feed your creative process? And by any chance, have you seen my endorphins running loose on the trail? If so, please send them home!

Do you exercise as part of your creative process? What effect does it have on you, rush-wise or otherwise? I’d love to hear your perspective!

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