February 18, 2018

Five Reasons Why I'm Addicted to Running

Hi, my name is Brian (66) and I'm a running addict.

I recently had a conversation with a family member about working out. She told me that she hated cardio. I responded with the statement that I'm addicted to running (and cycling).

It took me awhile to realize this. In fact, it took me a long time to even call myself a runner. I started to after I would have a bad day at work or have something go wrong in life and then find myself saying “I need to go for a run”… At that point I decided that running was a big part of my life and that, in turn, made me a runner.

Just to be clear, I use the term addict loosely and not to make light of legitimate addictions that have the potential for ruining lives…but I guess that's the good part about having a need to run. It really only brings benefits to my life.

The notion that I'm “addicted” to non-runners probably sounds like hyperbole. But, I have a physical and mental need to run. Can I survive without? Sure. I can. It sucks. But I can do it. Do I feel better when I run, swim or cycle? Hell yes. Am I particularly good at any of it…no, not really. But, who cares. I don't run to make anyone else happy except myself. Although, I'm in a way better mood after a good run, just ask my wife.

What am I addicted to? Glad you asked…

  1. Mental. Above everything else, there is a mental clarity that comes with time on the road or trail. It's my time. It's where I can think. Assimilate. Put into perspective. Break away from the day. It's where I can make things right in my mind. It gives me time to reset, focus on my breathing, my stride, my cadence…whatever it takes to clear my mind. After a few minutes the rhythm of the road strips everything mentally confining away. When I get to this point I am free to focus on the real problems I need to work though. It's like a mental reset switch.
  2. Spiritual. Emerson and Thoreau touted the Transcendilism flag; they believed the Creator transcends all Creation and just being in nature brought life to our souls. No matter what you believe, being in the out of doors fills my heart with happiness. Call it what you will.
  3. Physical. There's something strongly satisfying about completing a run that is one mile farther than last weeks long run. Setting out, telling yourself you'll do nine miles and throwing down ten. Breaking a PR on your regular 5K course. Losing a few pounds (PS – running is AMAZING for losing weight). Not to mention the endorphins that really do become addicting…Runner's High is a real thing.
  4. Recovery. I LOVE the feeling of pain and general soreness after a run. It's not the actual pain but what it represents. It's a reminder of the work I've put in and what I've accomplished.
  5. Mountains and Sea. The whole act of running, pushing myself mentally and physically, is putting into action “facing up”. It's so much easier to not sign up for the half marathon or 50K or whatever and be lazy on the couch. But there is no reward in that. Nothing good comes easy. Read the About page if this one doesn't make sense.

Feeling this way about running took a few months. In the beginning, there really was nothing but pain. The pleasure will come. Stick with it.

If you haven't been running for awhile, the good news is that you haven't totally lost it. You may not be able to run a half marathon like you could last year, but mentally, you've already done it. That'll never change…and a huge portion of running is mental. If you tell your body what to do, it'll do it.


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