My Path to Addiction: Life as a Runaholic

My name is Matt, and I’m an addict, I am completely addicted to running.  I would compare it to being an alcoholic (without all of the negative aspects like ruining your liver and breaking families apart).  In the same way that an alcoholic uses everything as an excuse to have a drink, I do the same with running.

Good day? Go for a run.  Bad day?  Go for a run.  Happy, sad, excited, angry… you guessed it, get off your ass and run.  To be clear, I consider myself a “runner”, which is something more than “a person who runs”.  To me, a runner is someone who does it for reasons other than “I want to get fit”.  To be honest, I’m pretty sure there are many better ways to get in shape;  slow, constant cardio is not the most effective as far as “getting fit”, but it gives you many other things…


After I finished my first half marathon in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl.

Growing up I always said “I can’t run distance, I’m just not good at it”.  For whatever reason, I lived with that thought until I was 24.  I simply accepted the thought that I wasn’t good at running and I never would be.  Then in late 2012, for some reason, I seriously got into running.  I told myself I would “get good” at it, and I’ve certainly made progress.  I went from a kid who had never run more than 2 miles at one time to someone who ran a few 5k’s, a Warrior Dash, and 2 Half-Marathons… within a year.  While this is probably no big deal for a lot of people, it was monumental for me.

Thinking about this caused me to ask myself a question:  Why do I run?  Running isn’t the best exercise, it really breaks your knees down badly, so why do I do it?

I run so I can pig out on carbs.
It is way more acceptable to take in a good amount of carbs like pasta, bread,potatoes, even beer after you have had a solid run.  Things that I usually try to limit in my diet.

I run to connect with the earth.
Running outside, particularly in minimalist footwear, really lets you connect with the ground.  You feel like a part of it, and get a true sense of belonging in the world we live in.

I run to get rid of pain.
Bad things happen in life.  Pain comes in many forms and exists on many levels of severity.  Running has become an outlet for me to clear my head, and deal with negative things in life that get me down.


Running is a great way to get out emotions!

I run for the pain it causes me.
Yeah, you read that right, I run for the pain I feel during and afterwards.  There is something sadistically satisfying about the burn in your lungs when you are really pushing yourself.  Also, the soreness the next day: knees, lower back… ankles maybe.  It’s a humbling occurrence that really makes you feel human.  Feeling that pain lets you know that you pushed yourself, I live for it.

I run for “the nod”.
When you are in the middle of a run, passing by another runner (often traveling in the opposite direction) is a special moment.  It’s a simple glance to each other, followed by a slight nod.  No words need be spoken, but in that instant you tell each other “I know how you’re feeling, keep going, don’t stop, push yourself.”.  It’s unlike any other interaction I’ve ever had in athletics or sports.

I run for “natural” music.
When I started running I always had music in.  I thought that if I could distract myself from the feeling of getting tired, I could go longer. Once I got more comfortable and became a more capable runner I experimented without music.  The ambient noises as you run are like an orchestra, especially when you run through forests or by the ocean.  Birds singing, twigs cracking under your feet, waves crashing, it’s all a beautiful song and it changes everyday.


Combining running and nature?? Yes please…

I run because it used to be something I couldn’t do.
Well, at least I thought I couldn’t do it. However, I train hard and work my ass off to keep improving.  I prove my previous self wrong everyday, and show myself that I can do ANYTHING if I work hard and dedicate myself.

In many ways, running is a lifestyle, an obsessive one at that.  It has reshaped my life in so many ways and I love the fact that I can call myself a “runner” and not just “someone who runs to try and be fit”.  Sure that’s part of it, but like I said, there’s so much more…

This is one addiction I think I’m just going to have to live with, cause there’s no kicking this habit!


Runs to the beach seem to make me go faster…

Thanks for reading!
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About mdnichol87

Marine Biologist studying towards a Master's in Conservation and Biodiversity at the University of Exeter.
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