Endorphins: the most powerful drug

FasterSkierJanuary 27, 2003

We have all experienced it. After a brief period of feeling tired, sluggish and flustered at the start of a workout, an unexplainable calm comes over us. The body relaxes, the mind flows and the heart, stride and breathing all seem to work completely in unison. This is a result of endorphins being released to the brain. Endorphins are responsible for our addictions. The addiction to physical exertion, competition, and fitness is ours.

We can also feel and understand the power of endorphins after a great workout. It could be any thing from a level 1 short ski on a beautiful day to an extremely intense day of intervals or racing. Regardless of the workout we can all relate to the feeling of peace and well being while sitting in the van on the way home from a workout. We can all remember not feeling like stretching, or proper nutrition or any other cares in the world after some sort of workout. This is caused by the overall feeling of happiness and serenity associated with the release of these hormone-like substances called endorphins.

I recently experienced such a feeling. It was our third day back in Gunnison as a team after our first extended road trip of the season. We had some short speedy intervals the day before, were getting used to school and campus life again. Everyone was quiet in the van on the way to practice. The team was tired and thinking of getting caught up in school. Today however was a different training day. There would be no speeds, intervals, official technique work, or no poles skiing. Instead it would be a solid 1hr. 20min classic ski on untracked terrain in the beautiful Aspen and fir tree wilderness of the Gunnison Valley known as Mill-Creek. We climbed as we skied up to the wilderness boundary and saw the amazing rock formations known as “the castles”, as well as snow covered high altitude meadows. We saw blue skies, and heard nothing but the sound of our breathing and our poles hitting the snow. We could smell the fir trees as we climbed and neared a huge section of the green wonders. It was an amazing smell. With these senses being inundated with these amazing feelings, different emotions were caused and one could not help but shut off their brain and enjoy being alive. By the time we turned around to head back to the van our thoughts were filled with positives for we were so much at peace.

Then a funny thing happened, when we all re-convened at the van, everyone, and I mean everyone was talking with excitement about snow, skiing, the outdoors, and the sunshine. People were filled with energy again: with positive energy that could not help but flow out of each one of us and into the next. It is still with me as I write this. My energy is positive and focused on what an amazing lifestyle I live. I love my life and realize that this sport is not just about numbers and seconds and places and times, but rather about the sheer enjoyment and peace that comes with an amazing ski on a beautiful day with an incredible group of teammates and friends.

It is days like this, when the endorphins are really working for me, that I realize not to take myself too seriously. These days remind me of the pure excitement I get from the simple act of skiing. It is an emotion that feels so positive and invigorating that I can not help but feel goose bumps even as I write this. Let this serve as a reminder to all, to enjoy this sport for what it is.


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