Sunday, February 14, 2010

Running Addict?

Yesterday I watched a documentary about a woman from Norway who was a thrill seeker to the point of seeming addicted. She talked about seeking the next high (literally; she was a base jumper) and the next challenge. She said she doesn't see herself quitting until one of her adventures kills or cripples her.

It was a little sad to watch, but also got me thinking about myself and the fact that I run like a mailman - in rain, hail, sleet and snow (ok, maybe not hail. That would just be silly considering a hail storm usually only lasts a few minutes). In short, it made me wonder, am I a running addict?

I've never been addicted to anything, so it's hard for me to know what that would look like for me. All I know is that I run, even when I'm tired, sick or busy. I run, even though I've had one knee reconstructed after tearing a ligament skiing. I run in flash flood conditions, dessert heat and when the mercury hovers around 0 degrees (F). But does that make me an addict or just a consistent runner?

As I consider the matter, I weigh two things: why do I run and do other parts of my life suffer because of running?

I run to stay fit, get outside, clear my head, relax and concentrate when I'm problem solving. I run just because I like the feeling of being able to use my body to take myself places quickly. Sometimes, especially when I'm training for a race, I run to test the limits of my body and will.

This last one gets us to the second question. In general, nothing suffers because of my running. It doesn't interfere with work, distract me from my partner or give me an emotional high that I chase with each run. However, when I'm training for a race, especially a marathon, I tend to get very thin - possibly to the point of being unhealthy, no matter how much I eat - and I have been hurt and kept going. When I trained for my last marathon, almost three years ago, I developed a bit of internal bleeding in my repaired knee. It appeared as a faded bruise from the outside. I didn't stop training, I just wrapped it and kept going.

Many would call running with pain unhealthy. Many think I'm crazy when I share that I've just completed 8 miles in the driving rain. And 99% of people in the world haven't run 26.2 miles and wouldn't unless they were being chased. Because I happily do these things, it would be easy to say I am a little out of my head.

But addicted. Nah, I could quit any time. Just don't ask me to today!