We all know that “fight or flight” is our natural reaction to any threatening situation or perception. Imagine being confronted by the danger of a street gang, roaring lion, or white pointer! Instinctually our body prepares to either run or stay and fight, in order to ensure our survival. Enter…chemicals like adrenaline and noradrenalin which are released and cascaded into our bloodstream. Blood pressure and muscle tension increases, and air passages dramatically widen. This is our body preparing for confrontation.

Have you ever been up against somebody in a race? Then you’ve experienced Fight or Flight. Before the race, you were probably bursting with energy. Afterwards no doubt, you probably felt completely exhausted. That “used up” feeling was your body recovering from a sensory overload created by the hormones released into your body. When you find yourself in this situation, whether you be working out, competing or going through life here are the more common chemicals you should be aware of:

• Adrenaline– Much more of a “flight” fuel. Increases heart and respiration rates, widens air passages, and increases blood pressure and muscle tension.

• Dopamine– Responsible for stimulating aggression, awareness, muscle movement, and speeds up the thinking process. Dopamine is why some athletes claim to experience a “distortion” in time during flow.

• Testosterone– Brings strength and speed to their max and enhances the will to completely dominate an opponent.

• Noradrenalin– Similar to adrenaline, increases heart rate and muscle tension but also improves alertness and reaction time. Noradrenalin is more suited for competitive situations because it provides physical stimulants (strength, speed, etc.) and mental stimulants (high degree of concentration, faster reaction time, etc).

These hormones explain the symptoms behind flow- the sudden boost of energy, the ability to perform longer and harder, and the “animal-like” mentality brought on by the desire to excel and win.

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