Are we addicts in disguise?


Typically when you think of addiction your mind immediately takes you to negative connotations of smoking, drug and alcohol abuse.

Given that I live a pretty clean cut life (most of the time), I have therefore always put myself firmly in the non-addict box.

But recently a couple of my friends have playfully suggested that they think I have an addictive personality, their logic being that when I get into something, I get really into it.

When one person suggests something to you it doesn’t register, but when a few more tease you about it you begin to take notice.

So to start my amateur self-assessment I went to the answer machine and did a Google search of ‘sport addiction’.

The search throws up loads of articles, lots of which are written by people with names like ‘Dr Phil’, but the best one I found on the subject was this one –

The article describes exercise addition as ‘a chronic loss of perspective of the role of exercise in a full life’,

It then goes on to say that ‘the exercise addict has lost his balance: Exercise has become overvalued compared to elements widely recognized as giving meaning in a full life — work, friends, family, community involvement — in short, the fruits of our humanity.’

Given that I have a pretty active social life, am enjoying my work and do the occasional bit of volunteering, I immediately reached the conclusion that I am not one of the aforementioned addicts.

But a little further down the page, the article has the following checklist:

• I have missed important social obligations and family events in order to exercise – affirmative
• I have given up other interests, including time with friends, in order to make more time to work out – affirmative
• Missing a workout makes me irritable and depressed – negative
• I only feel content when I am exercising or within the hour after exercising – negative
• I like exercise better than sex, good food, or a movie — in fact there’s almost nothing I’d rather do – negative
• I work out even if I’m sick, injured, or exhausted. I’ll feel better when I get moving anyway – negative
• In addition to my regular schedule, I’ll exercise more if I find extra time – negative
• Family and friends have told me I’m too involved in exercise – not explicitly, but isn’t a joke just a polite way of drawing your attention to something!?
• I have a history (or a family history) of anxiety or depression – negative

So while I haven’t displayed all the signs of exercise addition, I have ticked enough of the checklist for Sharon (designer of said check list) to suggest that I potentially need to seek further help.

But that is where the difficult bit comes in. When I signed up to the Ironman, part of the deal was that sacrifices would need to be made in other areas of my life – it is 100% impossible to train for an Ironman without missing the occasional social event.

But I think the article has a very valid point, and one that I will make sure I am mindful of – life is all about balance.

Too much of anything, even if it is a good thing, is bad for you. And if variety is the spice of life, I have met some athletes who are about as spicey as a potato. I don’t want to be one of them.


He wins all the races

He wins all the races

Highlight of the week: Recapturing my love of running. It wasn’t that I didn’t like running, far from it. But getting faster became all-consuming for a bit, and very rarely was I running just for the fun of it. Since having the ITB issues I have had to do a lot of running that doesn’t involve going particularly fast, or particularly far, meaning that I have spent my time enjoying my surroundings rather than recording my splits.

Lowlight of the week: Saying that, while it is getting better, my ITB is still a limiting factor and one that doesn’t appear likely to shift anytime soon. LAME.

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