addiction au running

Are you addicted to running?

How far should you push your running exercise? This is an issue that preoccupies many hardworking runners who are worried – and rightfully so – of the dangers of serious injuries.In addition to the physiological aspect, an addiction to sport can have repercussions on the family, social and professional life balance…


The issue of addiction…

Do you feel the need to run regularly – every day, even? Not to worry, this does not mean you are sick or an addict, as some would have you believe (without ever having undertaken the least physical effort).

It should not be forgotten that running is good for the health. All the scientific studies – and there are now many – emphasise the fact that running significantly reduces the risk of catching certain cancers and suffering a heart attack.

However, the issue of addiction does come up: at what stage (number of weekly sessions, kilometres run per week, intensity of the effort made) do you become addicted and begin to behave in a way that can lead to physical and psychological disorders?

There is no way of providing a single conclusive answer that applies to all runners. This is because there are so many factors to take into consideration…


Know how to recognise the signs of excessive sports practice

Other than the age and ability of each runner, it seems clear that running ceases to be of benefit for the health as soon as certain disorders (not always clearly identified or accepted by the runner) emerge:

- The runner is tired. Sleep is fitful and not very restorative. He lacks the energy needed to stay attentive and interested in the different activities of one's daily life.

- The runner frequently gets sick. Colds, sore throats and other benign infections succeed each other more and more frequently.

- The runner's self-image is misguided. He often finds himself too fat and seeks to lose weight — at the risk of developing an eating disorder; he refuses to accept that his training regime is excessive and even thinks that he must run more.

- The runner becomes cut off from reality. His relations with his friends, family and work colleagues worsen. He becomes irritable, experiences periods of depression and gets annoyed with himself when given common-sense advice.


Do not develop "bigorexia"

The addiction to sport, not only running, is now recognised as a pathology in its own right by health professionals. The WHO (World Health Organisation) has acknowledged the existence of the disorder. The composite name given to this uncontrollable need to practise physical exercise: bigorexia.

A team of researchers from Toulouse proposed this definition about ten years ago: "Irrepressible and compulsive need to regularly and intensively practise one or more physical and sports activities for immediate gratification despite the long-term negative consequences on physical, psychological and social health. "


It is advisable to stop running training completely twice a year (for a period of about a fortnight) in order to allow the body to recover from the stresses associated with running. These periods should provide an opportunity to enjoy the (other) pleasures of life – sometimes, but not always, incompatible with training. Lying in, having dinner with friends, going on a walk with the family, etc.