Addicted to running

There’s nothing like forced rest to make you re-consider your relationship to running.  I’ve been struggling this week, wanting to be out there, knowing my ankle is not ready, but simultaneously realizing I’m handling this time off better than I have in the past.

I took two months off this fall for a shin stress reaction, and those first few weeks were hard.  I was afraid I would lose all of my running fitness, and would be starting all over.  I was nervous that I would have trouble staying positive and upbeat (that anti-depressant effect is powerful!) Plus, I thought I’d be terribly bored on the bike and in the water.

As it turned out, I managed okay… I ran my first 5k just a few weeks later, and surprised myself with how quickly my endurance and speed returned.  I loved my spinning classes and decided to keep them in my routine.  And I found that sweating hard in other ways, though not as good as the runner’s high, could definitely boost my energy and mood and get my through the week.

So I’m hanging onto the lessons learned just a few months ago, and trying my best to enjoy the opportunity to get back in the water and try a few new things.

On top of the physical and mental effects, taking a break from running reminds me that I can survive without running.  I’m kind of kidding, but if you run, you know what I mean– you get to a point where it’s such a part of your identity, you can’t imagine not running.  I found several articles about running addictions or obsessions, and it’s no surprise that running attracts the addictive personality.

I think having a non-running husband helps keep me fairly grounded, but to my non-running friends I’m sure it looks like running is an obsession of mine.  And there are times when it feels like it, too:

  • I get giddy about making up a race schedule and training plans
  • I plan my weekly schedule with L around my running
  • I track everything in a hand-written journal
  • I blog about it  🙂

I’m throwing around the terms ‘addiction’ and ‘obsession’ in a very light-hearted way.  Most runners I know could be considered somewhat obsessed with the sport, but I found questions in this article to help determine at what point running becomes an addiction. I’ve never reached a point where it was a ‘real’ addiction, but it was a good reminder to strive for balance in all areas of life.

Have you ever wondered if you’re obsessed with or addicted to running? Do you have to work to keep a healthy balance, or is it a non-issue?

51 thoughts on “Addicted to running

  1. I used to always fear that if I had to give up running, I would be a crazy lady! But then, I spent two summers ago out from running trying to recover from plantar fasciitis. I hardly ran at all for six months but surprisingly, I was okay with this break because I knew I needed to heal and I also discovered a new passion, yoga! So, sometimes, I think injuries/taking a break from running, while it may seem scary is good because it forces you to explore other activities and to try something new. I hope you are able to recover soon though, even after a break, running is still my favorite form of exercise!
    stephanie recently posted..a day in the life – march editionMy Profile

    • Thanks, Stephanie… I completely agree… I like that it’s forcing me to try other things, but running remains my first choice as well!

  2. I was just having a conversation with a friend who happens to be a recovering alcoholic, she was saying that many of her AA people are runners. I think we all have that addictive personalities to varying degrees.. mine being on the high end, fortunately never got into unhealthy addictions. I am married to a low end guy and I like you am grateful… it balances the entire family out. Hope your ankle is healing up warp speed. Nice post Laura.. have a great day.
    Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..A Story and A Custom “Mantra” Bracelet GiveawayMy Profile

    • Yes- I’ve heard that running is great for people recovering from other forms of addiction, and it makes a lot of sense. 🙂 Glad you have a husband you keeps you balanced, too! And thanks for the ankle well wishes… it’s slowly getting there.

  3. I did go crazy when I gave up running in the past due to injury, sometimes I wonder if it is a healthy obsession or too much, but I love it, it makes me a better person and happier so I continue. The way I figure it is if it doesn’t interfere with my other aspects of life I am fine. Although I had a short moment of consdering turning down a new job becuase of how it could interfere with running! I too plan things with O around running, but use the time as my alone time whereas others spend this time watching TV, reading etc. I think everyone has something they obsess to some extent on.
    Jen recently posted..What a week!My Profile

    • Exactly, I think too that as long as it’s making us a better person, happier mom, more balanced employee, whatever, it’s an okay obsession. The addiction article talked about things like avoiding social functions b/c of the need to stick to a training plan, etc, and this is where my husband is good at bringing me back to reality and helps me put it all into perspective. 🙂

  4. I’m struggling with the same things right now. Although I’m not on a complete break, with only running really short distances, I’m learning to focus on enjoying the moments. It is making me focus on balance and taking care of myself so that I can get back to it. I’m stepping up my distance tomorrow and I’m so excited (silly).

    I’m glad you’re feeling okay about your rest time. Your ankle will thank you. How long are you going to rest?
    Carrie@FamilyFitnessFood.com recently posted..Fitting It All InMy Profile

    • It’s definitely exciting to get back to distance– not silly at all! 🙂 I was originally planning to run tomorrow (Sat) but I don’t think it’s ready yet… debating a few more days vs another week… I don’t want to run too soon and increase the overall recovery by weeks.

  5. I definitely rely on running to keep me grounded, sane and happy. It also gives me a feeling of control over life, when sometimes there are other things that are less easy to control. I am glad you have found some alternatives though. I really like spin class! I used to go at lunch a few times a week and it was great! I loved it. But when you start running a lot, you tend to not have time for those other things. So it’s good you have found other things that you like!
    Travel Spot recently posted..Bidwell Classic Race RecapMy Profile

    • Yes- I think running appeals to those of us who like control for that reason– I am the same way. 🙂

  6. Runners high,addiction. I think running/exercise can become addicting and you feel withdrawals. Our tm was not working right a few weeks ago and I had a mini panic attack.How was I going to do my speed work and tempo runs?? It seems silly but when it is such a big part of your life, it can be scary to find your new identity without it!
    Angela@Happy Fit Mama recently posted..Get Your Green On!My Profile

    • Absolutely! I know that feeling– especially when you’re training for something and depend on each workout as part of that training plan. It’s good for me to step back and put it all in perspective. Running can definitely become a big part of our identity.

  7. I can so relate to this post – but I don’t know that I’ve handled my injury as well as you. I’ve gone from being determined to cross train, to taking time off from everything. It’s hard to stay motivated when you can’t do what you love! I’m glad your ankle is healing!
    Kathy recently posted..Five for FridayMy Profile

    • I’m definitely struggling with motivation, too. I’ve definitely been working my way through the denial-anger-depression stages, but I think I’ve arrived at a place of acceptance for now.

  8. After making it through almost 3 months of no running two summers ago, I know I’m not ‘really’ addicted, but I certainly do have withdrawals during those times when I can’t run. I think I maintain a good balance, though : ) You’re doing such a good job staying positive – keep it up!!!!
    Michelle recently posted..Inching Closer…..My Profile

    • Yes- withdrawal is a good word for it! I’m trying hard to stay positive– it’s been a rocky week at times, but I think I’ve finally come around to accepting it.

  9. I had to stop running for 8 months when I was pregnant with my daughter and I learned then that I am fine without it and running is always waiting for me to come back. We never break up, we just take “breaks” a la Ross and Rachel. 🙂
    Kara recently posted..The Key to a Stress-free MarathonMy Profile

    • That’s such an important lesson to learn! And helps us not take it for granted when we can run. Why did you have to give it up when pregnant?

  10. I stopped running a couple of months ago because of some pregnancy “complications” (nothing serious – she is just measuring small.) I didn’t mind too much when it was cold, but we’re starting to have more and more nice days. I have been appeasing myself with long walks, which helps but is not the same as running. Glad you’re taking your time; your ankle will be grateful!
    Kylie recently posted..Color Matching Car Parking LotMy Profile

    • Oh- sorry to hear that! Yes, walks are just not the same… but obviously pregnancy can bring all sorts of surprises along the way. Are you into the 3rd trimester yet? I’m losing track!

  11. I’m realizing how deep my addiction lies with this total rest business. It’s been a real struggle for me to learn how to live without workouts in my life. To your point, working out (running, spinning, swimming, etc) is a HUGE stress reliever and therefore anti depressant. I’m hoping to get my head out of the sand beginning this evening and figure out how to embrace this life without cardio…for now. 🙂 Hope you’re ankle is healing well!
    Holly recently posted..Reunion 2012My Profile

    • Ugh- I’m so sorry. Your situation is so much harder… I would really struggle with complete rest, my body rebels after too much down time, and my mental health declines pretty quickly… hope your body bounces back super quickly!!

  12. OK…I’ve tried commenting to you 3 times…let’s see if it works this time @!! I have been a bit confused with some blogs moving…and I need to update my blogs sidebar…promise I will get to that!!!

    I am addictive, habitual and laid back…….all at the same time. Great comination, huh? I th ink as long as the habit is “healthy” then we’re ok….for the most part anyway:)

    • It does seem like there have been lots of blogs moving lately! Sorry for the confusion. 🙂 Having an addictive personality that is also laid back seems like a good combo, this week or two has made me realize I’m more laid back than I expected, or than I used to be.. it’s definitely helping me deal with it all.

  13. Running has a way of becoming part of who we are, I think. I definitely think it can be addictive, but I don’t see that as a problem, unless it’s pulling life out of balance, rather than helping us decompress, etc.
    Good for you for learning from the downtime. I too fell in love with spinning during injury rehab and have kept it in my routine. : )

    • I love the way you put that- it really does become a part of who we are. It’s sometimes hard to convey that aspect to non-runners!

  14. I totally get what you are saying and feeling. Nursing and resting an injury is a tough period for any runner. A few years ago, I bruised my ribs due to a bicycle injury and those 4 weeks of NO ACTIVITY were so tough for me.

    I am the same with my race and training schedule. And I’m sure that my non-running friends think I’m obsessive, but it’s what I love. If they had something they loved equally that made them feel good about themselves if a positive way, I would support them and I have (scrapbooking, photography, cooking, etc). I’ve not attended parties because I had a race in the morning and I’ve learned that non-running friends don’t get how lack of sleep or too much alcohol can affect our performance. It’s frustrating, but what can we do except continue what makes us feel good about ourselves and be a great role model to our children.

    What do running mommy blogger blog about when we’re not running? Everything and anything! I blogged about races I did before I started blogging. I began adding more posts about my kids and shared the music on my running playlist, which is how and why I started my Music Monday blog hop.

    Take it easy, mama! Heal quick!
    Run DMT recently posted..Peanut Butter Delight PupcakesMy Profile

    • Great points, Denise! I like your comparison to things other friends are passionate about, that’s a great way to think about it… and you’re right, we absolutely need to run if that’s what makes us feel good about ourselves and thrive in our life roles, no need to make excuses or feel guilty.

  15. lol I love your enthusiasm <—- that's what I'd call it 🙂 I think the only time I felt like that about running was about a month into it, when everything just clicked and I fell in love. However now it's led me to the new world where I now have different goals, but I do love running but definitely not addicted. lol
    Ali Mc recently posted..Doctor, Doctor & Plastic SurgeryMy Profile

  16. Haha. So true that it attracts the addictive personalities!! I definitely think I’m addicted… I was really miserable the six weeks I was out, to the point of biting people’s heads off.
    I did, however, start to enjoy cycling and swimming more and am definitely going to keep them in as some good cross-training. 🙂 So there are pluses to it all!!
    Turtle-speed Runner recently posted..What am I so afraid of?My Profile

  17. You bring up such a good point! I wondered this when I finally decided i would run a full marathon and my husband was cool with it, I got really giddy like a child on Christmas morning. I stopped and thought, is something wrong with me? I’m excited about running 26.2 miles? But then I realized its a hobby and if I were a hockey player I’d be excited about a game and a marathon is like a big game for runners 🙂 I’m not addicted, at least I don’t think so, I can take time off if needed to heal or rest and not freak out, well at least too much, maybe I’ll take the test, LOL
    Kris recently posted..Training and Birthdays: What do they have in common?My Profile

    • Yes, I remember feeling the same way, wondering why am I so excited about this? Is this healthy?! But you’re right, it’s a hobby that we love, and as long as our life remains balanced, there’s nothing wrong with getting excited about a 26.2 mile run. 🙂
      Laura recently posted..Addicted to runningMy Profile

    • Passionate is a great word for it!! I can struggle with balance too, especially when reading what others are doing and wanting to achieve that faster marathon or whatever it is… I need to remember to figure out what’s best for me and my body, and for my family and the rest of my life as well.
      Laura recently posted..Addicted to runningMy Profile

  18. I am an addict. I have to plan a day off in advance so I am not tempted to skip it. I feel for you….it’s tough. Do you have a bike? Riding intervals on the trainer got me through my layoff during pregnancy when I hurt my back and couldn’t even walk properly. I would also say Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga gives me an endorphin fix. Hang in there!!!!

    • Thanks, Clea! I do have a bike, and I’ve been going to lots of spinning classes as well, and doing a bit of swimming. I was thinking too that this would be a good time to try a more challenging yoga class, the beginner ones don’t do it for me. Our gym offers a ‘power yoga’ in the evening, any idea what that would be like?
      Laura recently posted..Purposeful running- Kyria’s storyMy Profile

  19. I don’t think I am “addicted” in an “I need help” kind of way, but I am definitely obsessed! I talk about it all the time and I feel bad for my officemates who don’t run! (They are my friends though so they put up with me!)

    I hated not running when I was injured but sometimes time off is a good thing. I can’t give up this lifestyle though!
    Jamie @ couchtoironwoman recently posted..Thai Turkey Burgers with Peanut SauceMy Profile

  20. I’m going through a very stressful time at work and yes, I would say I’m addicted. The other day after a horrible day at work I went and ran and came back relaxed and ready to spend the night with my family. Lunch break runs have been helping me as well.
    Jennifer recently posted..Fit and INstaFriday!My Profile

  21. Some would say yes, some would say no. I see it as therapy, girls night out, OCD mitigation, and me time all wrapped up in one! I would worry more about an addiction that made it harder to manage the rest of my daily life … but running makes it all easier!
    I get a little giddy about planning races and training too … it’s fun!
    Kathy R recently posted..Victory!!!My Profile

  22. Hey Laura! I actually read this yesterday, but didn’t have time to comment thoroughly so I held off until today.

    I think I AM obsessed with running right now, but I’ve been doing it long enough to know that I have seasons with it, and that as long as it’s not interfering with basics like my family life it’s OK to be a little more obsessed from time to time. It’s dictated by goals. If I have a big goal (like I do right now), obsession is needed. If I have no particular goal, on the other hand, and am just running because it’s a part of my life and I like to maintain a base level of fitness, well, I’m not so obsessed.

    Of course, it’s now a different kind of season for me–where I’m injured, but the goal is still there and I’m still obsessed. I’m only six days into this and I think I have a good plan for managing it. But it will be interesting!!
    Terzah recently posted..My Sweet RideMy Profile

    • Good points- I do the same… if I’m not in training for a specific goal, I’m much more able to go with the flow and not stress about a missed long run or planned workout. But in training, it’s a whole new ball game. Like you, I think my non-running “plan” is working out okay… but I’m still ready for it to be over!

  23. I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to running, but it is my anti-depressant. If I don’t have it, I have to replace it with something that balances me or I find myself spiraling downward. But I also very seldom feel the “need” to run. I run, I enjoy it, I move on LOL.
    MCM Mama recently posted..Sunday Sweat to Street #2My Profile

    • Yes- I can relate to that… it’s definitely my anti-depressant as well. I spiral downward as well with a few days of no activity!

  24. I am just getting caught up on my G-reader and I love this post! Because I can relate so well! But I also know that I am addicted to SWEATING just as much as running so hopefully that will help get you through the ankle injury!!
    Corey recently posted..GHS Centennial 1/2 Marathon Race ReportMy Profile

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