Running: Habit, Obsession or Addiction

Running Habit

Addiction, obsession, habit. All different, but yet they all boil down to the same thing: human beings doing the same thing repeatedly because you feel drawn to do so. Here’s the thing. I think I have an addictive personality, or a slightly obsessive one and I am definitely a creature of habit. An unanticipated visit, unforeseeable events or any change to my routine and I start to panic, a little. It’s not the event itself that panics me, but rather the feeling of the need to return to my usual routine in order to get everything done that I need to get done. Habit.


John Irving once said “Good habits are worth being fanatical about”. And so it goes that I think if I’m going to train for a marathon, then I want to know everything there is to know about it. It’s just the way I am. I was raised with my mother and grandmother repeatedly telling me (at every available opportunity!) to believe that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. A valuable life lesson right there and I’ve applied it to everything I’ve ever done, whether it’s been in studying to get into law, preparing cases for court, changing bed linen, baking a cake or training for a marathon. I like to give whatever it is I’m doing everything I’ve got and see how high I can go, or how straight I can get the bed linen 😉 . Obsession.

Bed Making

Current obsessions: running and cycling. Running all the time, cycling none of the time. I mess around with triathlon a bit and had been cycling up until mid-August when triathlon race season came to an end but haven’t been on the bike since. Yet, I followed the Tour de France and the Vuelta obsessively, watching the races, in full, every day that I could and reading as many cycling magazines as I could afford to splurge on. Pantani documentaries, Greg Le Mond TV programmes and David Walsh’s compelling book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong , it’s as though I simply cannot get enough information into me fast enough. I want to learn all about it and I want to know it now. Obsession.

You may already know the story but you're going to want to read all about it anyway.
You may already know the story but you’re going to want to read all about it anyway.

Addiction? “The state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma,” so says I’m not sure that running could ever honestly be described as something I am “enslaved to” but what I do know is that not being able to run, for whatever reason, would most certainly cause severe trauma in my life. I currently run 5 days a week and on those 2 days that I don’t run, I’m like an anti-Christ. I’m restless, cranky, short-tempered and generally just can’t wait for the day to be over so that I can get to the next day… when I will be able to run again 🙂 Phew. Withdrawal symptoms. Addiction.

I’m not concerned about my habits, addictions or obsessions. Most are not bad ones and at least being conscious of them, I’m at least able to manage them in the context of also having to live in the real world every day. (And not actually kill anyone around me on my rest days!)

Confession: I think I over-obsess about food. I seem to be thinking about it, planning for it, shopping for it, preparing it and eventually eating it… from the time I get up in the morning to the time I finally shut my eyes at night. I honestly think it must account for a huge percentage of my brain activity during the day. (Wouldn’t you love to see a chart of your daily activity thought pattern?) Most of the time, this is fine because hey, I like food. But sometimes, it’s just exhausting and at the moment, it’s exhausting.

Which one? What will I have with it? How will I cook it? What will I have later on? Agghhhhh....
Which one? What will I have with it? How will I cook it? What will I have later on? Agghhhhh….

Now, what will I make for dinner? 😉

What do you obsess about on a daily basis? Do you feel addicted to running? Do you think running is a good obsession?


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