Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Running: The Healthy Addiction

"You talk about running a lot", my sister said to me last week. "Actually, you talk a lot!"

Guilty on both counts. When I started my blog, my Facebook page, my Pinterest, and Instagram, it was in an effort to channel my "obsession", aka my love for running and need to talk about it. Instead, it seems to have merely fueled the fire. I think I talk about it even more because I feel validated now. I get a lot of positive feedback on my blog, my Facebook page, and my Instagram page, and that just warms my heart. I have to remind myself that people who don't run might not get it or want to hear about it.



I could be addicted to far worse things. I could be addicted to drugs or alcohol. Alcoholism is prevalent on both sides of my family tree. I have admitted to my love of wine on this blog. But because I've become such a lightweight, I stop after 2 glasses. Age will do that to a person. It's probably not a bad thing. Having one hangover too many in my free-wheeling twenties taught me that heavy drinking wasn't worth the price. Maybe I just have a low tolerance for feeling like crap, because I still hear my friends bragging about how awful they felt after a party. Although I will say I'm hearing it less these days, because I think everyone's starting to slow down a bit. That age thing, I think. Or maybe I just don't have tolerance for people who like to brag about drinking to excess.

This is what I picture my family and non-running friends wanting to say to me.
I could be addicted to food. My Instagram and FB feeds are filled with "transformation" pictures; some quite graphic--too much skin, if you catch my drift. I understand how proud these people are of their huge weight loss and commitment to a healthy lifestyle. It's a lot easier to head to the pantry and down a bag of chips than it is to run 5 miles. Thankfully, I've never had issues with food, but in my practice as a nurse practitioner, I see it all the time, so I'm aware that food is a huge problem for people. I see parents promising to take their kids to McDonalds (or the like) if they behave during the visit. So many worried parents of toddlers tell me how their child "doesn't eat" and so they give them candy...or pizza...or chicken nuggets...or massive amounts of milk. Last year, the NY Times published an extraordinary article on junk food addiction. If you ever doubted that the big food companies had our best interests at heart, this article will give you plenty of food for thought (see what I did there?)

Other unhealthy addictions include smoking, television, the internet, and s*e*x*, Or, in the case of Charlie Sheen, everything all at once. Winning! I wonder what ever became of him...


So what about that runners' high? All of these addictive activities, running and exercise included, release endorphins, nature's painkillers. Running also produces endocannabinoids--the same chemical response produced by smoking marijuana. Who knew? Maybe that explains why I'm so hungry after a long run. Endorphins and endocannabinoids are produced in response to the physical stress of running. But don't push too hard. That can negate the effects of these hormones. Running with others can enhance the runners' high. Being with others can produce the hormone oxytocin, aka the "love" hormone. Mothers are familiar with oxytocin because this hormone helps us bond with our babies. It makes sense, then that by bonding with other like-minded individuals, we runners could also experience the effects of oxytocin.

Well, there's that too! My friend Penny's someecards just live on...

Man, with all these chemicals flowing through my veins, it's no wonder that I love to run.

Hello, my name is Wendy and I'm a runaholic.

Do you run for the endorphins? Do you think running can be too much of a good thing?

I'm linking this post with DebRuns for Wednesday Word, which is endorphins! I'm also linking with Debbie, Lora, Susie, and Rachel for Coaches' Corner!








89 comments :

  1. Yes to runaholics! I agree--there are worse things to be addicted to, as long as you're in control and know when to slow things down, of course! Blogging has become my addiction (and my boyfriend will agree). It's such a great way to connect with others. I do miss running with my old running buddies--I could use some of those chemicals!

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    1. Well, sure, too much of a good thing is bad...and like you blogging is becoming my addiction! I really enjoy writing and the connection with other bloggers!!

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  2. The hardest thing about being out right now and not running is missing those delightful chemicals flowing through me. It seems it is harder to get up in the morning, harder to make healthier choices when I can't get that run in. I have kept busy doing other work outs, but I don't get the same type of happy from any other activity for sure. Hiking up mountains is the only other that gives me that great feeling and I am a little over a two hour drive away.

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    1. The only other activities that give me that rush are cycling and waterskiing. Definitely adrenaline inducing activities!

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  3. I notice the drop in running "chemicals" after just one freaking rest day. I need to get out there.

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  4. Haha, we love having all the social media channels to funnel all our thoughts about running ( and everything else). We know not everyone will understand!

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  5. I can't tell you how much I enjoy chatting with fellow runaholics. OCD is prevalent in my family. One of my brothers is disabled because of it, along with other issues. Running give me something to obsess over so that I don't do it in other areas of my life. I know that. I embrace it. I run it. Talk all you want! I'm listening.

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  6. I just did my first run in two months. It was brutal but it totally reminds me why I love it and why it really sucks when I have to take a break from it! I'm with you on the wine too; in my twenties, no bother, but now ...too much can be way too painful for the day (or two). :)

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    1. You'll be back in no time! The body doesn't forget!

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  7. I love this, Wendy! I also love that know we have a scientific reason for being having "the munchies" after we run - ha! I was laughing at that one! Like you said, there are WAAAAY worse things to be addicted to than running, right? Says the other running addict...Have a great day!

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    1. I felt so much better after learning about the endocannibinoids! LOL!

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  8. I too am a runaholic.. and I'm probably addicted to food too.. LOL.. but I'd rather be a little obsessed about exercise than obsessed with sitting on the couch and never moving :)

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    1. I love to eat but I can't say I'm addicted...but running lets me enjoy food, for sure!

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  9. Great post! So happy you started a blog. Us fitness enthusiasts need eachother. Jill and I were just talking about fitness haters, and it will be a topic coming up on The Fit Dish. Blogging about fitness is nice, because you find the ones who think non-fitness peeps are the crazy ones. haha. #fitfamlove

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    1. Thanks for hosting! I'm glad to find like minded people! :)

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  10. I am a runoholic too, and woops, a wino as well but thankfully don't normally drink more than a couple glasses in a sitting haha!
    I agree with the transformation pics as well...hate to say it, but enough already. I don't enjoy seeing pics of people's bodies. #coverituppleaseandthanks <3

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  11. yup! Agreed there are far more worse things to be addicted to than healthy behaviors! If people don't like it they don't have to read it. My family doesn't read any of my stuff!!

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    1. Same here! Sometimes I'll send a post to my mom (she'd read them all if I let her) but other than that, my posts are all my own...

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  12. Yep. I hear this a LOT. And it's why I started a blog. Without the blog I think my husband probably would have gone insane from having to listen to me talk about running all the time. (He's not a runner. He just doesn't get it!)

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    1. Mine either! I just figured out Google analytics (I love data) and was showing him my graphics. He could barely keep his eyes from rolling back in his head... LOL!

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  13. it is an addiction and we are here for you! :) you know it the second you finish the first race huffing, puffing and moaning and smiling cause you know you are doing it again!!!!

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  14. Yey to runaholics. I'm totally with you, social media has totally fueled my fire too and now I'm obsessive about it sometimes. It's hard to balance that!

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  15. I'm a runaholic too! We should form a support group :)

    That feeling you get from running is like no other!

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    1. I think your #fitfam is kind of a support group!

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  16. I realized I was addicted to running when I plan a vacation and my training plan has to be adjusted accordingly. I also look for races in the vacation destination, sad but true...there are worse things than a running addiction!

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  17. It's funny: I had a friend whose husband was dealing with drug addiction issues years ago. I told him about Back on My Feet and suggested that maybe along his path to healing he consider running. Her comment: "that's just trading one addiction for another, isn't it?" Yes, but one is substantially more healthy, right? I'll keep my addiction!

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  18. One of the big reasons I started my blog was to spare my friends and family from my obsession with all things running. And you're right, I think it just made it worse! :) Thanks for linking up with us!

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  19. I'd say running is a much better addiction than alcohol! And didn't realize that about the weed! I'd say I'm probably addicted to working out rather than running specifically....though running is obviously a big part of that. But, I mix in other stuff...strength training, Barre, tennis, and triathlon training in the spring/summer.

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    1. I'd have to agree with your statement about being addicted to working out in general. Last week after that rugby workout, I was flying high for a couple of days!

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  20. Yes running and healthy living can be an addiction and I agree there are far worse things to be addicted to! I love all the validation and support we get for our addiction

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    1. Me too! I keep telling my teenagers how great it feels--you know, trying to deter them from other sources of that high... :p

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  21. Okay, I have a question. I tried pot once and I didn't get high I tried it again and it didn't work. (I was inhaling correctly, so that's not an issue.) Then when we were in CO I tried the oils that are vaped- the same ones that helped for seizures. It's apparently really strong, as Paul will attest to. NONE OF THAT STUFF MADE ME HIGH! And I always thought maybe it was because I get a runners high, and maybe my runners high is just so great that a marijuana high doesn't affect me? But you said running produces endocannabinoids, so maybe due to running I really do have a "high" tolerance and that's why smoking/vaping didn't work for me???

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    1. That's a really interesting question! Maybe your receptors are full already? Hmmmm....

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  22. Actually, anything taken to extreme is no bueno, and yes, I see some runners who I think take it to extremes. It's hard to keep quiet about it sometimes.

    I will be the party pooper this weekend -- I don't drink. At all. And as I was telling Darlene this weekend, I've never even been drunk -- I mean, I drank when I was younger, but even then, I guess I'm too controlled a person to want to give up THAT much control.

    Food? Different story. While I've never had an eating disorder, I definitely have had a long history with disordered eating. In fact, that's exactly why I don't drink -- I'd rather eat my calories. It's not easy for me to maintain my weight, and quite frankly, I was never a big drinker and it was incredibly easy for me to give it up.

    Anyhoo . . . yeah, any addictive activity, and I do include running in there, can definitely be taken to extremes (and too far).

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    1. Just because you don't drink doesn't mean you have to be a party pooper! And I'm sure you aren't the only non-imbiber. As I say...everything in moderation.

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  23. YAY FOR RUNNING. So thankful for the gift of running. :)

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  24. I can get addicted to anything they make more than one of. Running is my vice, and yes I have abused it and have learned my lesson. Several times. You're only as sick as your secrets, and so if I ever find myself hiding anything (hiding mileage, hiding glasses of wine, hiding spending, etc) then I bring it into the light and get back on track.

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    1. That's a good way to think about it. I don't think I've ever had to hide running--but I'm certain I've abused it.

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  25. Yes, I need my "fix" of running or I feel way way off. This low miles "break" post-marathon has made me sluggish and sore. I've found the only prescription for this condition is to run again (preferably more than a few miles), which is what I was trying to avoid!

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    1. That's why I'm trying to avoid injury--if that is even possible. But by moderating my mileage, I'm hoping to avoid time off the road. I know what that does to me, mentally.

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  26. Hi, my name is Lea and I am a run-oholic! I'm in good company! :)

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  27. Good one!! I think of Running as an organized addition, where we use money to register for races and buy tech clothing to feed the addiction.

    For me, the accomplishment of knowing I completed whatever number of miles is what keeps me hooked!




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    1. It's the whole package. I guess our fellow runners are like the friends drinkers have at the bar...

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  28. Yes, there are far worse things to be addicted to, but we all know that addiction and dependency can turn the best things into problems. I love running, but I've had to live without it (and will have to do so again in the next few weeks... more to come on that). But obviously, it is very different when it is taken away from you, rather than your choice. That said, we all have our "thing." Running isn't a bad thing to have.
    And you can talk running to me any time.

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    1. Those times when I've been without running, I did go through withdrawls. I found other things to fill the void, but nothing is as good to me as a run.

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  29. I have never considered myself a run-addict, but I do miss it when I'm forced to sit/stand on the sidelines ;-)

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    1. I think you're in the club with the rest of us... :p

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  30. I'm addicted to running too, jn a good way. I now only post running stuff on my blog, blog FB page, instagram are all separate. I think my family and some friends get tired of my running posts.

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    1. I know my friends and family get tired of it! So I limit it--but I don't avoid it!

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  31. I definitely run for endorphins, it is one of the best addictions, at least I think, like you said it could be so much worse.

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    1. Taken to the extreme, it could be bad. But I think both of us have a healthy balance!

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  32. I wonder if we will talk about any other subject this weekend? Your right there are many other things we could be addicted too. I have an addictive personality, when I make up my mind to do something I usually go all out. My co-workers joke with me all the time that it is a good thing I never tried drugs! Who needs drugs when you have running !

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    1. Oh, I'm sure a few other things will come up...

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  33. I think the hardest part about being addicted to running is what we have to go through when we can't run. I guess that's where the wine fits in...

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  34. Unfortunately I know a lot of runners that are former drug addicts or alcoholics, and some of them have traded one addiction (alcohol) for another (running). It's a slippery slope for some people, and I can see why because running is totally addictive.

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    1. I've seen that too--but for those folks, running is such a better option.

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  35. This is awesome! I do think runners tend to be a bit intense and have addictive personalities. So good that we channel them in the right way :) Love those endorphins!

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  36. I believe in the adage "everything in moderation." People can take running too far - push through injuries when they should give themselves time to recover, overtrain when they need to rest, undereat in an effort to get faster, etc. However, with a sense of balance, running can be amazing. I am so glad I found it.

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  37. There certainly are worse things you could be addicted to, especially in this day in age! Love this post, I think I caught some endorphins just reading it!

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    1. It made me happy to write it (and in this case, re-write it!)!

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  38. Guilty!!! I always say "at least it's a healthy addiction!" because I'm totally addicted. I try to curb my enthusiasm unless I'm invited to talk about it in a group :-) I know it can be utterly boring to non-runners or even intimidating. I'll have to go back and read that NY Times article about food and what companies do to make us addicts of their junk. I'm sure it won't surprise me...

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    1. When non-runners ask me about it, it's hard for me to reel in my enthusiasm!

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  39. Bravoooooooo, lady! I love this post! Obvs, people get the wrong idea about a lot of things. Running is one of those things, for sure. Healthy addictions are real!

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    1. I guess you could be addicted to just about anything--good or bad!

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  40. Running really is addictive! It's crazy! I have to stop after 2 glasses too these days. Not worth the headache!!

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    1. I get the heebie jeebies after more than 2 glasses, which is horrible. So 2 glasses it is...

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  41. I agree, there are far worse things to be addicted to that running. Strangely, as my husband's passion for it has dwindled, mine has increased. Oh well!

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  42. If we're going to trade one addiction for another, trading for running is a good move. As addictions go, who can complain about getting their endorphins flowing!

    Thanks for linking up!

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  43. I am really addicted to working out - running & swimming the most but I will talk about lifting, yoga, cycling. My poor husband just listens to me go on and on!

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  44. I absolutely run for the endorphins, and few things make me happier than my Saturday long run with my BRF: the only day we get to run together/talk in person!

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    1. Oh, how I would love to have someone to do that long run with!

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