How to channel your running addiction?

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Shutterstock.com/ Maridav

The current social media craze is running 5k, donating $5 to charity, and nominating five people to do the same. It is a great initiative that has resulted in a huge upswing in charitable donations at a time when they are badly needed. However, there has been an underlying theme to these 5k runs with people doing their best to ensure the time they upload in that Instagram selfie is one that will make their friends and followers sit back in awe. While you may think there is nothing wrong with a little healthy competition, sometimes there is.

The running craze that has started has seen people try to figure out all kinds of ways to record their best 5k. Some people have been found to run a single kilometer, stop, take a break and recover and run another kilometer, repeating the process until they reach their 5k goal. This can allow people to record an excellent “working time” but a very poor “elapsed time”. Strangely, most people forget to upload their elapsed time to Instagram. Some people go even further though and just use their car to ensure a good 5k time. Britney Spears recently uploaded a nonchalant workout picture with her running time. It was so good that it actually broke the current world record. Nice work Britney.

Those who aren’t cheating but want to do well have started putting in some serious training. Running 5k every day to try and increase their time. While this is an admirable approach and there is nothing wrong with trying to get fitter and faster there is a potential downside. A recent study has shown how easy it is for people to become addicted to running and that those that do are at high risk of injury.

Running addiction takes place because when you run it releases a large number of endorphins making you happy. People can easily get addicted to this feeling and start running more and more. The study highlighted how those people that do get addicted are far more likely to suffer an injury. The logic is very simple. People are running at a high-frequency without building up the required strength first. 

Running is a strange sport. While you can often force yourself out the door to run another 5k, it may not be the best thing for your body. If your body hasn’t properly recovered from the last 5k that you did yesterday then you are putting it under unnecessary stress. This can result in small stress fractures in the lower body, broken bones, torn or strained muscles. It is important that when you start running that you build up slowly to a high frequency so that your body has time to adjust.

In addition to building up slowly, you need to vary your workout. Vary your running between slow runs, medium runs, and sprint training. This will allow your body to become more used to running and is actually proven to allow you to record a faster overall time in the end. Ensure you add some interval training and yoga to your workouts as well to make sure you are working support muscles that aren’t worked during running.

An addiction to running is only dangerous if followed with ignorance. If you are addicted to running, don’t worry. Channel your addiction so that you are addicted to the right nutrition, addicted to recovering well, addicted to a good foundation, and addicted to a smart routine. If you are addicted, become addicted to doing things right. That way you can enjoy all the endorphins, record that fast 5k, and avoid injury. You are still unlikely to beat Britney’s time though.