Can You Be Addicted to Running?

Hi, my name is Katie and I think I am addicted to running.

We all know that I love running, but being addicted to running is something entirely different. According to, addiction is defined as:

Now, I know that true addictions are nothing to joke about because there are many people in the world that suffer from dependencies on drugs, alcohol and other things. However, lately I have been noticing some interesting things that make me wonder if my body has a dependency on running.

Looking at the definition of addiction made me think. Although my tolerance for running has increased over time, I don’t always need to run farther and faster to get the same feeling of accomplishment and the amazing ‘runner’s high’! I also don’t believe that more is always better and I won’t push myself to run if I am injured or feeling too sick to run. So I don’t fit that part of the definition. But the reason I feel my body is dependent on running is what happens when I don’t run (a.k.a. go into running withdrawal).

Here are some symptoms of addiction/dependency withdrawal according to this website:

I can’t say I have experienced any of the physical symptoms of withdrawal, but the emotional symptoms are 100% true for me. In the last few weeks I noticed that on my rest days when I don’t run in the morning I wake up feeling like I am hungover. I get a headache that lasts most of the day and I am extremely cranky and/or in a sad mood. I feel tired and I have a hard time focusing on what I need to do at work or at home. I feel like I have a lot of pent up stress inside that makes me feel anxious. I literally start craving it and I get jealous of people that I see running on the street. The list goes on and on! These things very rarely happen on days that I do get up to run in the morning.

So I decided to look into it more to see if you can actually get addicted to running for real. I literally googled “running addiction” and tons of things came up. I clicked on the very first page, which brought me to this website. There was a self-test on there that I took [click to enlarge].

This self-test is pretty extreme and crazy. You rate yourself from one to ten then add up all your numbers. My score was 74 which puts me in the “fitness with a mellow bent” range. I actually had ones for many of the questions that were asked. After doing that test and reading the article, I realized that although there is such a thing as true exercise addition, compared to the people that suffer from this I am definitely on the low end of the spectrum (if anything at all!) These people are addicted in every way- psychologically, physically, emotionally, etc.  I think the symptoms I experience show some type of dependency on my running, and my body sends me signals through headaches, irritability, and anxiety to remind me why running is good for me and why I need to do it. But just because my body tells me these things doesn’t mean I drop everything to go run no matter what. I still ignore the signals and take my rest day 🙂 Because I know that’s good for me too!

The bottom line is I guess there are worse things that I could be “addicted” to. At least running is a healthy habit as long as I stay smart about it, don’t overdo it, and remember that it’s supposed to be fun. It’s all about balance!

Here’s the weekly run down:

  • Monday: 2 miles @ 9:30 (19:00)
  • Tuesday: Body Pump (1 hour)
  • Wednesday: 6 miles of speed work – warm up, 3 x 1600 with 800 meter recovery, cool down. Splits were 7:29, 7:31, 7:38.
  • Thursday: 2 mile run (19:39 / 9:49 pace)
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: Body Pump (1 hour)
  • Sunday: 8 mile run (1:52:21 / 9:21 pace)

Happy Labor Day everyone!


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