Thursday, March 22, 2012

Discipline or Addiction?

The other night, my husband and I were watching mindless tv late night (I say mindless because we didn't really think about what was on - it was just background noise) and a show about addiction was on.  My husband sweetly looks at me, and says " you may need an intervention.  I think your addicted."  I just started laughing because I knew he was referring to running.  The next day, Runners World published a short article about the discipline of running.  I countered (albeit 24 hours later) that I was not addicted, simply more disciplined then others.

So am I addicted or just more disciplined?  Am I able to be more disciplined because I have a slight case of OCD?  Am I able to be more disciplined because I have an "all or nothing" mindset?  Am I addicted because if I don't run, I become cranky, evil and downright nasty?  Am I addicted because if I don't run, I'm afraid I will lose in one day everything I've built up over the past 4 years?  Is it both?

Out on a recent training run with the Perfect Pacer, he confided that he has yet to find his "happy place" when running.  He confided that he absolutely hates it and only runs because of my joy for it (that and to protect me for neighbor dogs who like to try and eat me as I run).  It filled my heart with sadness because it is through my running, that I have truly found a part of me that is fulfilled by the running.  I don't start on a run saying how much I love it.  I often curse the first mile and half.  It is the rest of the run that makes me feel akin to Meg Ryan's character in City of Angels - you know the scene where she is riding the bike with her eyes closed and arms held out (right before she gets whacked by the semi)?  That's what running makes me feel like (except, it doesn't work to close my eyes or hold my arms out).  This is probably referred to as Addiction.

Running gives me ultimate freedom and the knowledge that I have been able to fulfill the requirements my body now demands of me.  It has been given empowerment, peace, sustainability and exhaustion - often all at one time.  I don't know that I've achieved that "runner's high", the "endorphin rush" that so many discuss (although I do think I've had it a time or two) but it has given me the sense of accomplishment and worthiness. (Disclosure: I do feel the endorphin rush at the beginning of every event as I cross the start line.  This is not when your supposed to feel that.) This is a result of Discipline.

I always laugh (and get irrated) when people or even clients tell me they are just to busy to work out or run.  It usually follows their previous remark "most be nice to have so much free time on your hands, that you can run every day".  Really?  Did you just go there?  I recently posted this on my Facebook: 

I'm just as busy as anyone else.  I could list all the hats that I wear in my typical day but I don't like to brag.  I will say, however, unlike some others, I look at running and my workouts as important in my day as feeding my family, getting dressed in the morning and basically, breathing.  Priority is what you make it.  If it is not that important to you, then know, that it won't happen on a regular basis.  It has to be something that you don't do if you have time, instead it has to be that you do it despite of your time boundaries.  Again, this takes great Discipline.

I'd also add that training keeps me on track.  It gives me accountability and helps me stay on the course without much distraction.  I recently downloaded the Runners World App for training so that I can remember what to run and on what day to run it (I'm old, can't remember much).  It lays out the whole program for me and I can look at just the day or the week.  Super easy to use for those less techy people out there.  Another thing that keeps me on track is recording my mileage at  It allows me to connect with other runners throughout the world, and in my community (okay, there aren't many around me) and it allows me to track my training as well as ask questions, spy on other runners, see who is running what, etc.  It's probably one of the last things I do at the end of the day just before going to bed. These two things combined would be a mix of Discipline and Addiction.

So am I addicted or am I disciplined?  How can I be so disciplined about something some many view as torture if I wasn't able to be that disciplined about studying in school (talk about torture)?  How can I be so addicted to something that requires me to ice body parts, submit myself to deep tissue massage and view food as fuel and nothing more?  How can I be so disclipined about something that I look at the race calendar and compare it my home calendar and see who many races I can put in on the calendar?  How can I be addicted to something that I am willing to work small side jobs so that I can buy enough shoes to train and run in?

I stand firm that I am disciplined.  After all, it is not addiction that gets you into the 1% club.  Or does it?

Are you addicted to running?  Or you just disciplined crazy like?

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