We hear it a lot, and I have also definitely said it. “I am addicted to running,” “I am addicted to coffee,” and “I am addicted to fitness.” It’s an interesting one; are we addicted to such things? Or are we just dependent or committed to them? Maybe we are truly passionate. When I looked up the word “addiction,” I got “a brain disorder characterised by a compulsive engagement in a rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences.” 

It’s the latter part of that definition that stuck with me. Naturally, too much of anything can be dangerous territory, and of course, we can be truly addicted to anything in life. But I would argue that many who claim to be “addicted” to something like running or fitness are not necessarily creating adverse consequences in their life. People often attribute this word to something that they simply love or are passionate about, using the word “addicted” as a badge of honour. Seemingly, people are proud to be “addicted” to something good for them or that they enjoy talking about. 

Yet, on the flip side, we tend to shy away from taboo conversations in terms of addictions. We all likely know someone who has suffered, or is currently suffering, from an addiction that matches the full definition above. Whether it’s gambling, alcohol, drugs, or smoking, the list is endless of substances or behaviours that people can compulsively engage in, despite harmful consequences. Those addicted to a substance or behaviour usually struggle with four factors: craving, compulsion, control, and consequences (the 4Cs of addiction). 

So, on the one hand, we have people proudly using the word addiction, and on the other hand, we have a stigma around the word.

Conversations about how addicted you are to coffee or exercise are often easy. We could talk about something we love all day long, to anyone! We even hear people joke and say, “there are far worse things I could be addicted to .”What isn’t as easy is opening up to someone if you are addicted to something less desirable; or something that is truly impacting your (or someone else’s) life negatively. 

Interestingly, some common personality traits often align with those who have an addiction. While there is no way to say that all addicts have the same personalities or think the same, traits like persistence, commitment, and focus are often present. As irony would have it, these traits are also great for endurance sports! 

How amazing would it be if we could have more of the harder conversations about the taboo subjects? We could help people stuck in an addictive cycle, those who are stuck despite the adverse consequences. Maybe we could help them shift to something they love to talk about, something they are proud of and genuinely passionate about. This is not an easy process, but it is doable. 

If you are suffering, please speak to someone you trust. Please offer them an olive branch for open and honest communication if you know someone who is. Yes, these conversations are hard, but they are also so rewarding, and quite frankly, they are required. 

Together, we can make the endurance world an even more wonderful place. 

Connect with Steph:
Instagram: steph.running
Email: sh@innerfight.com