There's a phrase "running out of your mind." In general it's come to mean when you run so well, so beyond any expectation, that the reality of it is difficult to grasp within the standard boundaries of the brain, which tends to operate on logic and limits. For me I always thought of it as those rare moments when I'd run and my body was moving independently of my mind. Mind you this doesn't happen often and perhaps it's not something every runner aspires to. I tend to think of this in race specific scenarios, meaning those races where I don't think at all for the majority of the race and just latch on, mindlessly to another runner, with hope the leader. I wait as long as possible to take action. This does happen on routine runs as well. I'm just moving, and don't have to give thought to anything as I almost can't feel my legs.
This is different from the runner's high. The runner's high I describe as an often elusive feeling of effortless perpetual motion — different than not even feeling my legs, it's a touchy and semantic training ground here. I can seemingly go forever and considerations of pace are ludicrous, just as they would be when running out of my mind. There are no limits, there is no beginning or end though you stop at an arbitrary and predefined point. I have never had the runner's high in a race, though I have run out of my mind as I said, and the distinction is likely drawn upon due to nerves. Running out of your mind, for me, is to tell yourself for the longest time that it's not a race, it's just running. Oh sure, at some point it becomes a race, but you seek to delay it.
Now I take back what I said about the runner's high in a race. It's been there. Once. In the scenario I expected to win and my opponent's attempts to be in the lead or anywhere near me were actions to which I took offense, which is a stupid and, unfortunately for me, natural occurrence. I want to be in the lead. We can be there together, but if I sense you upsetting the delicate balance, I want to get away, I want to be alone. This is what I think of as the loneliness of the long distance runner. For me I want to compete, I want to win, but it's just so that I am alone at the end of it all, until I am scared as that arbitrarily defined finish point approaches that I am truly alone, and scared as well that I am not.
But that race I spoke of was a time trial training run against three separate pairs of legs belonging to teammates. I ran away from the first and the second started when I approached. I ran away from the second and the third started when I approached. And as he took off at a speed I knew he couldn't sustain, the runner's high struck. I walked him down as the old racing phrase goes, and I was alone as I like it and I stopped, finally, where my coach was waiting, but I could have kept going.
Thoughts of this spawned from my run this morning, where I did something separate from all of this, I ran my mind out. A spike in the heat fatigued my body through dehydration, with salt depositing on my face in the wake of evaporated sweat the way it often did in the past when I felt 13-15 miles was the natural morning's activity after 13-15 drinks. This was called a weekend. And when it's through, the world appears brighter. Yes, my goddamn eyes seem to take in more light. I don't know why this happens exactly, but I do know that I like it. This is why you can believe a person when they say running is their drug.