Monday, June 28, 2010

My Addiction

I know this is a long post, but it is a long story.

When I started training in track and a few other sports near the end of middle school, my coach had all of the students that were training watch a video on exercise addictions. I found this strange because at the two previous schools I had been at I had not been shown a video on exercise addiction. My friends and I laughed about it, finding it pathetic that there were people in the world who found exercise addicting.

One thing that I think should have been included in this video is the motivation that comes from becoming an addict. I think it would have helped me avoid my addiction which has cost me a year and a half of my life.

By the time I was in High School, I had become pretty good at track. As much fun as football was, there was too small of a student body to play in Hamburg, PA where I lived.

When I started running, my coach gave me a goal of five miles. I began at three, and would increase the distance by no more than five percent a week (if I could do it that is), a standard increase according to my coach. In six months I reached ten miles per run.

My coach had decided this would be a good goal for me to maintain as a recreational runner. I never wanted to compete professionally. He said that pushing myself further risked injury and only those who were really interested should go farther.

I never was interested in professional running. Even competition running amongst my schoolmates. However, a few weeks after reaching my goal, I noticed that I was less satisfied with my goal of five miles. It had been a few weeks and wanted to run further. I came back a little less satisfied after the runs. I found I couldn’t concentrate at school. My family seemed much more irritable (though it was my attitude, not theirs).

When I talked to my coach about it, he seemed concerned and told me to not run any further and take a break.

I did not want to take a break,

So, I consulted a few running organizations that I had joined online (the ARA (American Running Association) and RRCA (Road Runners Club of America) are two of them). I made a running plan from data collected by different professional runners listed on the sites.

Again, I felt good when running and my spirit was lifted. My parents were happy that I was running so well. They were very involved in my running and when I told them that I was running close to times and distances as some professionals, they were ecstatic. When they asked why I was so motivated to run, I said the usual BS of health, my running hero’s, and so on. In my mind, I knew that I was running for the feel of it, but I felt guilty whenever I thought of it, so I brushed it to the back of my mind.

My coach knew something was up. He had been monitoring my progress closer than I realized. When he approached me, I told him I didn’t want his help any more.

My grades began falling again. I had been skipping some study times to run farther. I didn’t care though, having the feeling of spin outs and elation was far more rewarding than any school work.

Eventually, it all came to a crashing halt.

I was on my run, nearing my eight mile when a pain flared from my waist. I came to a halt and fell to the ground. Stopping so suddenly while my heart rate was high gave me a few stares, but nothing serious. I tried getting up and walking, but the pain always came back and forced me to stop. I didn’t have my phone on my, but my sister drove by me on the way to school. She helped me into the car and rushed me to the hospital. It was bursitis. My doctor extracted my running plan from me and told me that it was dangerous to run as I was without supervision. When he asked me why I was running so much if I was not pursing in professionally I said I did not know. I felt guilt again, though I was not sure why. He eyed me suspiciously and forbade me of running for three months.

During those months, I was depressed, angry, and hostile. After the fourth week, I seemed to recover. My coach had come by on the third week and told me his encounter with exercise addition when he was a track star. It was then that I finally understood that it was an addiction to the high that motivated me to push further. It was then I recalled that movie on exercise addictions in eight grade.

I tried running a little after my recovery. Sometimes a little pain would come back. I also was afraid of getting myself into my addiction again.

Even though I had a very small incident with this addiction, it still haunts me.

I gave up running.


  1. Joshua, Thank you for being vulnerable & sharing your personal story. Anything, even things that are normally taken for granted as good things can be turned into addictions. Anything in excess is detrimental. Fortunately, your addiction was one that you could give up because it is not a necessity as opposed to Food or Love Addicts.

  2. I also want to say thanks for sharing your story. I actually used to date someone who was addicted to working out, and it became unhealthy for them when they let it spill over into monitering exactly how much they ate, and the use of steroids. Congratulations on beating your addiction, you're stronger than some may think.

  3. Thank you for sharing something personal with the class. I am glad you were able to overcome your addiction.