Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Addicted to exercise, really?

I'm an addict, pure and simple. But my addiction has brought me five world championship crowns, a little bit of money, chaffing and huge oversized calves. The drug? Sports. And like any addict, when I don't get my fix, I become like Cruella De Vil (with a decidedly dodgy haircut). I get grumpy, I throw my toys out of the pram, I suffer cold turkey (nothing to do with Thanksgiving leftovers), and I chew on my nails -- basically metamorphosing from a relatively stable, sporty person to Godzilla. – Chrissie Wellington

I love Chrissie Wellington.  I think she is a true ambassador to the sport of triathlon.  I can not think of anyone that embodies the sport better than she does.



However, this is at least the third reference to exercise (running, triathlon, sport, etc.) being an addiction in the last couple of weeks.  I have made three such references myself - here, here and here.  Is the media (and to a lesser extent, are we) spinning exercise (ironman, ultra running, kayaking, etc.) as the new drug of choice? 

Is exercising an addiction? 

I mean, I do get grumpy when I miss my sessions (or like now, tapering and don’t have many sessions).  Is it the lack of endorphins?  Is my brain chemistry altered when I don’t ‘get my fix’?  Do I just have extra energy like a child bouncing off the walls?  Is it the increased blood flow to the brain flushing out toxic chemicals and supplying more oxygen?  I just missing the stress relieving properties of exercise (more endorphins)?

As with most things in life I am sure it is a combination of all of these factors.  However, and this is a big one, if I don’t score a hard trainer session on the bike or get my intervals during my speed workout at the track, I’m not going to knock over a liquor store

I did a quick search on amazon with the term exercise addiction and found 204 results.  Obviously there are many people that think exercise addiction is real or they at least relate to the issue.

Now the question, do you think exercise addiction is real or are we just sensationalizing our training and lifestyle?


Matty O said...

Good question.

Obviously depends on the person.

I think I am an addict. I love the rush and the feeling in my body after a workout.

However, I won't go through withdrawal if I miss a workout. So I think it is a body chemistry thing, not an actual drug addiction dependency thing.

TRI714 said...

I like the test, the pain, the suffering. I also like the results. Addicted ? no. Enthused ? yes.

misszippy said...

I think the possibility is out there. It's my drug of choice, I can tell you that!

Julia said...

I would definitely say that I am addicted! I get withdrawls after just one day of rest. I don't care if its just a walk or some yoga; i just crave the movement. It doesnt necessarily be a triathlon specific workout.

Barbie said...

I absolutely adore Chrissie Wellington too. Think she is the epitomy of strength and vibrancy. Oh and I too become GOdzilla if I don't train

Jon said...

If I am addicted to exercise, what would be a more healthy alternative?

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

I wonder, but I have decided if I'm an addict, at least I picked a healthier option, maybe????

I know I LOVE the way I feel the rest of the day, after a race or a really hard run. Can't beat it! (I haven't experimented with drugs to try to beat the feeling) Running is my drug of choice!