Posts Tagged ‘exercise addiction’

The Dangers of Running Myopically- II

October 22, 2009

In my previous post I discussed the dangers of running compulsively and exercise addiction in general. The first step in conquering any addictive behavior is, of course, recognizing and admitting that it is indeed a compulsion.

Recognizing, Then Breaking a Running Addiction

In order to break a running-dependency, you need to re-examine your relationship to health and fitness. Ask yourself, “Why am I running?”. If you’re exercising for your health, then why are you always so exhausted?  If you’re training for competitive goals, remind yourself that rest is essential to peak performance. Above all, as much as you may love it, running is only one part of a balanced life.

 Finding a Balance

1.  Listen to your body, respectfully responding when it says “I’m too tired and achy to run today”.

2.  Schedule rest days into your program. That way, you’re in control of when you run as well as when you don’t and you can plan for it.

3. Try other forms of exercise (preferably low-impact) to balance your running:  cycling to strengthen  your quads, yoga to improve your flexibility, swimming or weight training to increase your upper body power, deep water exercise to improve core strength and overall fitness.

4. Don’t let your running performance determine your self-worth.

5. Don’t rely on running to maintain your emotional well-being. Consider seeking professional psychological assistance if necessary.

6. Run with others who share your passion, but also have full lives outside of running.

Those of us who love to run know how much it enriches our lives, but it’s important to keep it in perspective and respect it. Our bodies are meant for activities besides just putting one foot in front of the other. Maintain a healthy respect for your ability to run and, above all, don’t abuse the privilege.

Run Long and Be Well,


The Dangers of Running Myopically- Part I

October 16, 2009

You’ve seen them running down the road – perhaps you’re even one of them – pounding the pavement mile after mile, sometimes twice a day.  Their upper bodies are shrunken while their hamstrings and calves are solid as rock, and probably just as flexible. I call these people who think running is all they need to be fit and healthy  “myopic runners”. They’d never think, for example, of taking a yoga class  – what good would that do when they wouldn’t get their heart rate up or barely break a sweat. Few get in the pool unless they’re badly injured or they’re cooling off after a summer run. It’s also rare to find them in a spinning class or Pilates studio.

For those who love to and can run, running is a wonderful part of a well-rounded fitness program. But, while running is an excellent cardiovascular and muscular endurance exercise, it doesn’t promote muscular strength, flexibility, or agility, other key components of fitness. Plus, most runners’ bodies cannot tolerate excessive mileage without some physiological cost.  

Furthermore, when running becomes a compulsion, a healthy habit can become a harmful obsession. Inadequate rest between high mileage and/or high intensity workouts can lead to muscle breakdown and injury. This is why cross-training is so essential to long-term running success. By  balancing the body’s strength and flexibility of opposing muscle groups, performing a variety of activities helps keep injuries at bay.

When Dedication Becomes A Dependency

In some cases, over-dedicated runners develop a psychological dependency on running as a means of controlling the rest of their life. Certain personality types may also be at a higher risk, including highly driven Type As, perfectionists, and those who lack communication and coping skills. If you find yourself feeling guilty, depressed and irritable after skipping even one workout or if you feel compelled to run even when you’re ill or tired, you may want to examine your commitment to running. Running can help get you through tough, stressful life events, but if it becomes your only means of coping emotionally, you run the risk of making it a higher priority than relationships and/or work.

In my next post I’ll discuss how to recognize a running addiction and ways to bring balance back into your fitness program if your running has started running your life.

Be Well,