Hot Topic Tuesday– Addicted to Running?

Happy Tuesday! How’s it going?

Yesterday I got my nails done and traumatized the nail lady with the cut on my knee and road rash on my leg. Somehow it looks worse than before because it opens again every time I sit down/get up. (Decided to spare you a picture because some of you might be in a public place reading this and don’t want to barf.)

Her reaction was kinds dramatic, “OH NO! What happened?!” I wish I had a better story than just, “I fell…”

Instead of a picture of my open wound here’s my bubble bath by OPI:


(RunEatRepeat Instagram)

Addicted to Running?

Someone (who probably was trying to drop a hint) sent me this article:

The Seduction of Addiction: One Runner’s Confession

It’s a lengthy article on whether or not someone can be addicted to running – but from a runner’s point of view.

The writer/runner shares how he used to run a few miles, then trained for a race and ran more. Now he needs more and more miles to feel the same satisfaction. It takes more to get (runner’s) high I guess – I totally get it.

He goes on to say:

“Two weeks ago I woke up feeling a little under the weather, but this condition didn’t keep me from leaving the house at 4:45 a.m. in rainy, 38-degree weather to cover 11 miles with hill intervals worked in for good measure. It was really never a choice. I wouldn’t have considered doing anything else. When I finally made it back home I felt like death, immediately came down with a high fever, and was confined to bed for three days. This was, I had to admit it, a self-inflicted flu.”James McWilliams

That might sound f-ed up to someone who doesn’t run, but many of you have probably ran or exercised through illness because you ‘had to’ because you were able to justify it in your head.

The big question is – do you think you can (or are) addicted to running?

I have joked and being addicted to running in the past, but never really thought I was. I can quit any time!

i could be a drug addict

I do think if I am addicted, the benefits outweigh the side-effects. It’s like a pill for a my depression/anxiety/worries/loneliness – it’s better to have a little bit too much running than no running at all.

i have me

I have some tiny suspicions have might have an addictive personality. But running is a healthy addiction. If I am going to be addicted to something, this is the way to go, right?

This is why I’m pretty content NOT being Type-A, which I suspect would make an alleged running addiction worse. Aaaand when I tested low for T-3 thyroid my doctor said if it wasn’t for running’s endorphins I would probably have been pretty depressed. See?! Self care. Boom.

I want to admit that I am trying to increase my weekly mileage because I want a slow build up to training for my ultra in May. And I also admit I am digging that increase so far.

My name is Monica, and I am addicted to running poses.

new running pose half marathon (376x502) (376x502)

But if running is wrong. I don’t wanna be right.

phoebe running[3]

Question: Can someone be addicted to exercise? Are you?


  1. julie says

    HMMMM it’s an interesting question.I feel like, imo, that there are different addictions. Addictions to things that, in moderation, aren’t unhealthy (like food or shopping) but when consumed/done in excess can cause a negative affect for some (becoming overweight, being in debt). Addictions to, imo, unhealthy things (like drugs) which to me should not be done at all. And then addicitions to something healthy like running. I think that if there are no negative side affects, then maybe addicition isn’t the right word bc it has a negative vibe. Why isn’t it just called a habit? If someone eats veggies every day, no one says “she’s addicted to lettuce”. Just my opinion. =)

    • says

      Addictions to things that, in moderation, aren’t unhealthy (like food or shopping) but when consumed/done in excess can cause a negative affect for some (becoming overweight, being in debt).
      <- that is a good way of putting it. Everything in moderation.

  2. says

    I wouldn’t say that one is addicted to running if it’s a healthy relationship. For example, getting enough rest days, not running through injuries, eating enough, etc. If running makes you feel good, and it’s not harming you or interfering with your life, then by all means, run! Maybe it’s more of an OBSESSION, but NOT an addiction.

    Exercise addiction is real, though, and pretty prevalent in those suffering from disordered eating. It is National Eating Disorder Awareness week, so it is important to delineate the difference between being obsessed with running versus being addicted. Excessive exercise can seriously compound the health problems in people suffering from eating disorders.

    However, running addiction isn’t always link to disordered eating, but I think that the mentality is similar. Both involve the compulsion to exercise without heeding the body’s warning signs. I know that your posts are generally light-hearted, but I just wanted to point out that for some people, the addiction can be life-threatening.

    • says

      Thanks for chiming in JoJo. It is NEDA and I did want to acknowledge that at some point. Legit addictions and disordered eating is a very serious thing and requires professional support to help.

  3. says

    I can personally speak to this as a recovering addict. Once I took out the drugs and alcohol, I replaced them with food obsession and exercise. I injured myself because I always needed to do more everytime. It’s about using something to change the way I feel. I ran longer and longer distances that my body was not equipped for and was sidelined for weeks with a stress fracture.

    It’s insidious (for me) and if I don’t keep a check on my motivations for exercise I am liable to slip into that destructive pattern again. I don’t know that it is addictive for everyone, but I know that it can be for me.

  4. says

    I think there is a hardcore runner and an addicted runner/exerciser. What is your motivation? I do a lot time wise, but I don’t kill myself everyday.

    I’m always looking for balance. Some people think it’s crazy just like I think hours of shopping and Pinterest are crazy.

    If you have a reasonable goal, you have to work toward it. If the goal is not particularly healthy/reasonable, then it might be time to reevaluate.

  5. ChristineB says

    I have an addictive/obsessive personality. Luckily I don’t drink at all, but I remember scaring myself after a weekend spent with vlts (video lottery terminals) so I try to stay away from gambling, too, for the most part. On our recent trip to Vegas my hubby held all the cash – lol. My obsessions usually play out in my hobbies, planning trips, and lately, exercise.

    So, yes, I think you can be addicted to exercise. Luckily I have a job, children & husband who keep me in check, or who knows how many hours I’d spend running/at the gym. There are definitely worse things to be addicted to, and I think as long as your obsession isn’t interfering with the ability to hold down a job or have normal relationships, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. The health benefits are so great!

  6. says

    I think I recently commented on a blog about this. Back in 2006ish when I was doing weight watchers (the core program) and I first started running I would run more just to “bank” exercise points. It got in the way as I was training for my first half marathon in 2007 because i was running on my off days just to get the extra points. That was not cool. Now I definitely find that running is my therapy….If I don’t run I feel like my “meds” have worn off and I feel more anxious/depressed. So I definitely believe the benefits of running outweigh the risks of being addicted to running.

  7. says

    I know for sure that exercise can become an addiction. I know that for me, I struggle between finding the balance between running because I love it (which I do) and running because it is a compulsive behavior that I mentally CANNOT go one day without doing. While running is a pretty much healthy addiction,I do think that it can become unhealthy if you let it get out of control. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have gotten a small injury and then worsened the injury because I just couldn’t let myself take time off! Like all other things in life, it’s all about balance. Running is my medication and I’m happy to have it in my life, I am thankful for it. I wouldn’t want to be addicted to anything else.

  8. says

    hahaha love the Friends meme… and I think yes, that’s the way to go is running and not pills or drinking! I always told my parents they should count their blessings that I wasn’t one of “those” kids. A messy room was a blessing compared to being in jail. Boom.

  9. says

    I’m defintiely addicted to running and working out. No question. I get anxious & nervous feeling when I can’t get my daily workout grove on. I know people don’t understand it. It’s part of my life, I love the high I get and stress release from being active. It’s a fine line. My name is Megan and I’m addicted to cute shoes & running. Sign me up for Running Anonymous please!

  10. says

    I think exercise and running in particular of course, is a healthy addiction but it can be taken too far. I love the endorphins, I am totally addicted to my morning work out but if I am sick (as in fever, stomach virus or really not feeling well) I would never have the strength or ability to get out there.

  11. says

    I think you can draw the line at times when you feel an injury coming on or have a big commitment that keeps you from running one day. If you are smart enough to skip running on days you absolutely have to then you aint addicted youre committed.

  12. april says

    i definitely think that running (or any exercise, really) can be addicting. fortunately, it’s not a terrible addiction to have… unless it becomes obsessive and begins to negatively impact your physical and mental health. i agree, though – running is the cheapest therapy you can get! there’s nothing like a runner’s high :)

  13. says

    I know with addiction, it often gets in the way of “normal” life functioning (such as sleeping, waking up, going to work, seeing friends and family/some kind of social life). So some runners can be addicted in the sense that they might blow off seeing friends for breakfast on the weekend because they’re on a long run… but I hope people aren’t skipping work in order to run. Oh, and blowing all our income on running would be a sign of addiction… that might be happening (races… and Lululemon).

    • says

      That is a good point about running getting in the way of ‘normal’ life. That’s probably a smart marker to tell if you are addicted or just doing it as a hobby – does it interfere with your relationships/work/other.

      • says

        I agree with this! As with other addictions (as opposed to just habits and hobbies), is it getting in the way of/truly interfering with your daily life? Are people worried about you (not to say that this is an indicator if people weren’t, but if they are, then def…), or do you have any kind of life without it? Would you be severely depressed without it? Idk. Lots of good points. With exercise, or any healthy habit (like eating well), there’s potential to go off the deep end, but I guess interference with daily life is the #1 way to tell if it’s becoming a true addiction.

  14. says

    Thanks for sharing the article! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve often been accused on being addicted to running, and I’ve always denied it. I will freely admit that I love it, and I don’t want to stop running, but I don’t see why that classifies it as an addiction. I definitely think that you can definitely go overboard to the point where running becomes an addiction, but I think most of us are just committed folks taking part in a fun hobby that gives us a sense of purpose.
    And I didn’t know you are planning to do an ultra! 50K’s are my favorite distance!

  15. says

    I absolutely think people can be addicted to exercise, myself included. I also agree there could be plenty worse to be addicted to. When I started noticing myself getting sick more and more often is when I finally really took it seriously and started cutting back (this is all very recent, we aren’t out of the danger zone yet for me to go crazy missing the constant burn, ha).

  16. says

    Great post! I love this because I went through a really tough time in my life where I was so addicted to exercise and running. Through therapy and family help I started to really see that I didn’t need exercise to be happy. Once I started training for my first full I started that cycle again. I think when training for something it makes me more addicted because I feel if I don’t do the workout I won’t have a good race. It really is a battle I struggle with and I am glad you posted this to get the word out!

  17. says

    I’m not addicted to exercise (like I am to caffeine), but it definitely has become a habit.
    There are a couple of women in my Beachbody team who are recovering substance abusers, and they both seem to have transferred that to exercise and healthy eating. I don’t know if it’s an actual addiction, but it’s kind of horrifying to read disparaging comments on their Facebook posts about their new-found passions. I wonder if these same “friends” ever told them to stop with the booze and pills the way they tell them to eat candy and take a nap. Why would anyone want to discourage someone from living a healthy and productive life? I don’t get it.

  18. says

    I am absolutely addicted to exercise…and that’s how I turned a stress fracture into a broken hip. I feel like going to physical therapy is going to rehab! Arg!! I guess it’s forcing me to take care of myself and listen to my body. Silver lining right?

  19. says

    I absolutely think it can be addictive, to a point where it destroys things in your life – relationships, your health, your sanity. Some people can run 100s of miles a week, no problem. For others, it takes an unhealthy toll on their marriages, weight, health… I think a lot of it has to do with how it fits into your life. It’s not like smoking or drugs, which only have bad effects. Alcohol has some benefit (red wine for heart health, for example) but can still hurt people more than it helps. Food is right in the middle – we need food, but it can destroy you if you let it. Exercise has TONS of benefits, but like anything else in life, can become an addiction.

    Someone above wrote about the difference between addiction and obsession, which is interesting and I don’t really have an answer to the question of how they’re different… so that’s what I’ll be thinking about today. Hm…

  20. Sarah N. says

    1. This entry has everything I love: OPI bubble bath nail polish, Parks and Rec .gif, classic Monican running pose, and running itself. The only thing missing is Vegas.

    2. I wish I were addicted to exercise. I’m kicking myself for not being more in shape before I got pregnant, now I’m sort of sidelined at 6 months along, waiting (im)patiently to have my little girl so I can get back to running and racing. :)

  21. Suzanne says

    My husband told me a couple years ago that he felt like I was addicted to running. I did not take it well. I still struggle with the thought of being “addicted” to something because it sounds so evil and bad!

    From his point of view, it was affecting our home life because I wasn’t taking care of things in the house–my priority would be to get that 12 mile run in. I made adjustments but it felt really weird–I didn’t know if I should be mad at him for accusing me of that, or take it as truth and make changes. I did a little of both at different times since then.

    Now I am pregnant (twins!) and while my running has stopped, I can’t wait to get back to it. It is all I can do to not sign up for a post-babies half marathon in the fall. I don’t know what my physical status will be, so once I get back on the road I will make those decisions. I do get to the gym 4-5 days a week still and do about 35 minutes on the elliptical plus some light weights. I’m pretty sure that’s why I have been lucky to have a great pregnancy so far. I still feel like I NEED to get that workout in, but if I am too tired, feel like I am coming down with something, or we need to do something after work I will skip it with no problem. If I can squeeze it in, I absolutely will. I just hope that once the babies come I can still get my workouts in, but we’ll see how my priorities shift once they are here!

  22. says

    Absolutely!! I’m totally addicted to the high from running and working out. I think that is different than having an exercise compulsion where you will literally force yourself to workout no matter what.
    I think the point that exercise or running stops being good for you is when you have to get that 3rd workout of the day or those last 30 minutes of exercise.
    All runners have a bit of obsession and addiction – it is just knowing where to draw the line between helping your body and hurting it. (in my opinion:)

  23. says

    I felt like I might be addicted when I kept running through shingles last spring even though my meds made me high as a kite… haha but I think we all have some sort of addiction to it or we wouldn’t push ourselves over and over again

  24. says

    I think, at times, I’ve been addicted to exercise, sure. Not to the point where I’ve injured myself because of said addiction, thankfully. I have friends who are definitely addicted, and it affects them socially, like Ashley said in an earlier comment.

  25. Julie says

    This rings a bit true. I have what feels like the Plague, it started on 2/15, I woke up with a sore throat. I had a half marathon that morning, nothing formal, just a small local 13.1 that I wasn’t even trying to race, just using it as a medium training run. I should have backed out when I woke up feeling like a$$, but I did it anyway. Needless to say, I am still sick today, that race took me from 0-1000 in sickness scale. But I got up and it didn’t even cross my mind to maybe sit it out, it was just understood I’m running. Not sure if that is addiction personality or not, as anyone who is like “WTF” are not runners, so I’m going to assume if I had asked runners they would have been like “Yes, good decision and worth it”, haha

  26. says

    I think there’s a fine line for endurance athletes and exercise addiction. Sometimes I question – but here’s ways I think I’m just a lover of the swim/bike/run
    1. If I feel totally crappy, I take the day off. Whether I’m sick, mentally spent, etc, I either modify the workout or take the day off.
    2. I love and look forward to my rest days and rest weeks.
    3. I don’t look to add distance and mileage beyond my plan. If I do end up adding it, I usually subtract from another day.

    However, I may look like a crazy trying to fit my training plan around my schedule (run some miles AM, run some more at lunch, bike after work) but I think I’m still on the right side of the line. Deep thought Tuesday!

  27. says

    I’m definitely addicted to running although I’ve been able to take a step back and not run during injuries or surgeries.

    I have an addictive personality so I figure it’s better to channel it into running than drugs or alcohol right? Shh…wine doesn’t count =P

  28. Charlotte says

    I believe you can be addicted to exercise if it is doing your body more harm than good. Rest and recovery is vital to a healthy medium. Having said that, I think running daily is less harmful than say, daily weight training. In weight training in order to see results, rest is necessary for muscle growth. Whereas with running, daily miles may be good if trying to lose and maintain weight loss. I would never encourage any form of exercise when sick.

  29. says

    I think many people are addicted to exercise but not in the you need more and more to get the same high. Therefore, it’s not really an official addiction. It’s an addiction like chocolate is an addiction. You need to have it but having similar amounts of it regularly will suffice.

  30. Kelly says

    If James had the flu, he didn’t get it from running in 38 degrees and rain!!
    He got it from being infected with an influenza virus!
    And yes I am totally addicted to endorphins!

  31. says

    I think yes, some can become addicted to some sort of exercise. I love to run, but I don’t think I am addicted to it. I think there is a deeper meaning regarding if they have a exercise disorder and cannot go one day without feeling guilty.

  32. Kelly M says

    ‘Addicted to running,’ is what non runners say about runners to make themselves feel more normal for laying on the couch all day.

  33. Nikki says

    I am addicted to the elliptical, not running. I think one can live with an exercise addiction as long as it does not become the top priority in their life. I exercise every single day. But when we went on a road trip two weeks ago, I did not wake up at an ungodly hour just to fit a workout in. I think that is what makes my exercise addiction manageable. If you aren’t choosing exercise over people and other life priorities. I am also five months pregnant so once the baby is born that will be a huge indication.

  34. Suzanne says

    Great post and I’ve enjoyed reading the comments, somehow I got to the point where I exercise 7 days a week. When I started running 15 years ago I would take 2-3 days off a week, I can’t imagine doing that now. With 3 kids and a husband who just beat colon cancer, I feel like I need at least one (waking) hour to myself, it’s my “me” time and then I’m happy to do for everyone else!

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