“Running is healthy”, “Going for a race? Good for you!”, “You are such an inspiration”
Bullshit: considering how lazy our society became over time, being inspiring is not too difficult. Of course, exercising and especially running will make you a healthier person: there is strong scientific evidence that regular exercise prevents diseases and improves your overall well-being. Being active a couple of hours per week improves your health, there is no doubt about it. But running can also be an addiction and an obsession: day after day, you are looking to get your shot every day. You want to get high.
This is underestimated in our society, probably because of its rarity: not so many people are addicted by physical activity. This is the exception, not the norm. The mass is rather focused on passive (and often indoor) activities that requires minimal effort so that fitness addiction is very unlikely and less probable than other usual drugs (like alcohol or tobacco). And as its benefits are valued everywhere, people are less likely to think that it can be dangerous. Consider this: between a guy that smokes 2 packs a day and another that is running a marathon every morning, few people will consider the second guy as an addict and even less will say this is an issue. But the fact is: both have an addiction that impacts their life.
There is also some science behind it and not getting your daily workout can lead to arguments and disagreements with your friends, partner or colleague. Missing a run can then change your mood and makes your grumpy for the next hours. But other than you, nobody cares if you run or not today but people remember that you was an ass for a few days. Day after day, you become more isolated and running becomes the only activity you want to pursue to get away from your life. Instead of running to enjoy your life, you run to get away from it. Pretty sad.
There are multiple contributors to this addiction: as the brain delivers endorphins, you feel good after your workout, you are valued in your community as being the crazy-healthy-runner, you seem so “special” or “inspiring” and also, you look (from a physical perspective) better than the average Joe in his couch. For these reasons, you continue without really paying attention at the effects.
There are not so much a difference between this addiction and others. The fear of missing out is real and can impact your social life without a doubt. You can’t stop thinking you will loose your fitness level or be the fatty guy again if you stop exercising (the take away: is total bullshit – and would rather help you to recover and be faster). For these reasons, you keep going at all cost: you need your fix, have a run and get high. Or just go for a simple workout, whatever you can get. If some folks are getting their fix at the corner of the street and give away all their money for a few grams of weed, others get their fix on the trails and give my money to race directors, runningwarehouse and other local running stores. Both are just unhealthy and counter-productive: by balancing your activities, your overall mental and physical well-being will improve and each aspect will benefits from taking rest.
I started to realize that until recently when I was injured and clearly not able to train for obvious physical reasons (e.g. I was even not able to stand and getting out of the bed required to be pushed – I was unable to even move). At that point, you realize how obsessed you are then and how destructive this addiction could be, from both a physical and mental perspectives. Having no solution than laying on the bed force you to realize that missing a few runs is no big deal. It will let my body and mind recover from weeks of uninterrupted training. And this is by managing food, exercise and balance your life that you can become faster and stronger. Realizing you are addicted can be hard, especially when you are so focused on a particular objective (race, losing weight, increase weekly mileage, etc.).
Keeping a balance between running, work, social life and other interests is challenging. But this is what will pay off on the long run. Our resources are limited: we have only one life with 24 hours per day to do what we love. Let’s just try to do our best, pursue our dreams and enjoy this time as much as we can.