Friday, June 25, 2010

The Power of Adrenaline

Last Thursday, my company raced in the New York J.P. Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge 3.5 mile run. We had about 75 people competing – sadly for them, all were subjected to six months of my blabbing about hydration, sports nutrition and proper snacking. Finally, the day had come to put their training into effect.

Most of this crew ran the race, a far cry from their initial training abilities and racing goals back in the winter time. These are a people that usually sit in cubicles for eight hours straight. These peoples do not typically get up unless to eat a bowl of cereal, use the bathroom or grab coffee down in the local Starbucks. Luckily, we have two incredibly well-stocked kitchens full of healthy items, compliments to Yours Truly, and an on-site gym where we offer fitness classes and daily ping pong/Wii tournaments. That said I never imagined most of my coworkers running (no, not jogging) this race.

So I have to wonder about the powers of the “adrenaline rush.” 15,000 other corporate junkies were spotted in NYC’s central park, gearing up to run with their teammates and coworkers. Crowds were cheering, the weather was sunny and music blasted to feed the soul. Adrenaline is known to produce unusually exhilarating effects in the body. Says coworker Kate K., “I don’t know what came over me, but I felt the need to run.”

Can we say fight or flight? This girl has exercise-induced asthma and informed me at least a month ago that she was only going to walk this race. I concurred (I didn’t think stretchers were necessary at this corporate challenge). I would love to say she followed some of my training and nutrition programs, but something else tells me her catecholamines were in full-throttle. She ran the entire race successfully, her sympathetic nervous system in overdrive.

Coworkers came to me with similar tales. The crowd inspired them; it was an out of body moment; they couldn’t wait to attend the after-party we were hosting… How much of their race can we attribute to epinephrine? Are my coworkers (remember: Starbucks and cereal bowls) closet-case runners? No one was running from a tiger – but J.P. Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge anecdotal evidence shows that some C+C music factory and an audience of cheers can inspire some serious physiological responses.