Some times last month I read an interesting essay by a Malaysian runner The Running Addiction
The following is the post from his blog. If you have time I recommend you visit his site to read more interesting running stories.
“According to the DSMV, a person must exhibit three of the following five criteria in order to be dependent on a substance: tolerance, withdrawal, unsuccessful efforts to cut down intake of the substance, interference with social, occupational, or recreation activities, and continuation of the substance despite recognition that doing so has caused physical or psychological problems.
Let’s consider running as the “substance”. A distance runner will meet all five criteria:
1) Tolerance – over time a runner must run more (or faster) to produce the same physical effects
2) Withdrawal – a runner becomes VERY grumpy when he has to take some time off
3) Unsuccessful efforts to cut down intake of the substance – a runner who has been advised to cut down his mileage will rarely do so. He must run. He hates the taper.
4) Interferes with social, occupational, or recreational activities – the run becomes one of the number one priorities of the day. And because of the lifestyle choices that accompany running certain recreational activities, such as getting loaded the night before a big run, are not possible.
5) Continuation of the substance despite recognition that doing so has caused physical or psychological problems – a broken bone is the only injury that will stop a runner from running.
Moreover, running satisfies common features of addiction
1)Positive reinforcement – a runner is happy after a run
2)Negative reinforcement – running is a release from ALL PROBLEMS
3)Craving – if a runner is watching other people run, he will want to run
In class it was proposed that whether or not something is considerepostd addicting depends on whether society considers the substance as good or as bad. Drugs are bad so you can be addicted to them. Lobster is not bad, so if you must eat lobster every day it is not an addiction. I don’t buy this good/bad thing. Firstly, I think the lobster example wasn’t that great. I don’t think lobster is addicting, but not because it is considered “good” but because it doesn’t meet the above addiction or dependence criteria. Running is something “good” that does satisfy the above criteria and therefore in my mind it is an addiction.
Thus addiction is not necessarily evil. Of course running would be considered a positive addiction due to the tremendous health benefits, and positive self-esteem. One of the coolest things about running is that everyone can do it.
“If you were dropped on your head as a baby, running is your sport”
And unlike most sports, running truly is about competition with the self with success being measured by to what degree the distance runner enjoys what he is doing and to what degree he is striving to do his best.
As a final note, I would like to say that there is potential for a positive addiction to turn into a negative one, due to the fact that anything addicting has the potential to be all-consuming. The high incidence of disordered eating among women distance runner is a reflection of the desire to run faster, and run longer, as are incidences of overtraining and burnout.”