By Tara Ballard
Hi, my name is Tara…and I’m a run-aholic.
Well, recovering run-aholic, that is! It is true, I really could have used a 12-step program to break my running addiction a couple years ago, but instead something else happened – I broke my heel and ended up in a lovely bright green cast (below). That injury was the last of a long string of running injuries I endured for about 8 years straight. This last injury ended up being a huge blessing for me in that in made me really think long and hard about why I was so hell-bent on running my butt off all the time. And when I really dug deep and was totally honest with myself, I realized that it wasn’t running for hours and hours that I liked, it was the idea of running all those miles that was appealing. Being able to say I ran 20 or 30 miles (ok, I only did 30 once, but boy was I proud of it) and the feeling of accomplishment made me feel like I was a true athlete.
But did I actually enjoy the act of running long distances? I did enjoy the camaraderie of running with friends and my significant other, but the actual act of running? Not so much. Most of the time it hurt – before, during and after – and I found that my joints and bones ached all the time. It wasn’t a soreness that you get after a good lift…it was deep-down-in-the-bones pain. Ugh. Then there were the issues of inflammation, fatigue, and mood swings, as well as numerous colds and other sicknesses. To be so “healthy”, I sure wasn’t healthy.
BUT I kept on doing it because of several reasons:
- I thought it was the best method of exercise to gain the physique I wanted (ripped abs and muscular frame)
- Most of my friends were/are runners, and I felt I had to “prove” that I could do it too; I also felt I would let them down if I didn’t
- I became addicted to it
Now, if you’ve been following Jillfit or Metabolic Effect for any length of time, you know the first reason is totally bogus. We all know that hours of long, steady-state cardio is NOT the way to a ripped physique, right? First and foremost, it’s about pushing heavy weights; and for cardio, it should be short-duration, high-intensity. There are so many people I’ve talked with over the past few years who signed up for a marathon thinking they would lose weight. But what happened? A lot of them actually lost muscle and gained fat. :(
The second reason had more to do with my insecurities than anything else; I have overcome a lot of those insecurities, but I am definitely a “work-in-progress”. I’m getting better though about saying “no” (and not feeling like I let them down) when my friends ask me to go out for a long run. Instead, I will ask them if they want to hit the weights or do sprints with me.
The third reason was probably the most detrimental, and it was the hardest one to ‘fess up to and ultimately change. Exercise addiction is a tough nut to crack because it involves doing something that we think of as inherently healthy. But, in my case, it was “too much of a good thing”, and it took a pretty serious injury to really look inward and admit that yes, I was addicted to (the idea of) running.
My lovely cast and HUGE fracture in my heel bone
But, I believe that there are no coincidences, and me breaking my heel set me up for a full transition to weight-training and short-duration, high-intensity cardio after the cast came off. That bright green cast was a blessing in disguise! I love my new fitness life! Yes, there are times when I don’t want to workout, mainly because I want to sleep in – ha! But, once I’m in that gym, I am “home”, and to feel myself get stronger with each rep and sprint is an empowering thing! The outward physical effects are just a nice by-product; I love my new lifestyle mainly because of what it does for me both mentally and physically. I don’t feel so drained all the time, I rarely get sick and gone are all those terrible injuries!
I guess what made me start thinking about all of this is when I was in Florida a few weeks ago. The area where I stay is a popular running spot, and I noticed as I was going to/from work, that about 99% of the runners looked absolutely miserable: heads down, scowls on their faces, feet shuffling. It dawned on me that I used to be one of them, and I wanted to roll down my window and scream, “IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY!! COME WITH ME AND I WILL SHOW YOU THE WAY!” But, of course, I didn’t – lol. But hopefully I can reach some of those folks through this blog post.
If you enjoy your current fitness program (whether it be running, biking, aerobics, etc.) and are happy with the results you are getting, then that is awesome!!!! However, if you feel like you have to keep up with the status quo because of the reasons I mentioned above, then it may be time to re-think your current strategy. Just sayin’. :)
I would love hear from other recovering run-aholics out there!! Was it hard for you to break the cycle? What was the final straw? Email me or find me on Facebook!
The best way to do your cardio is interval-style! It helps you maintain muscle, burn more fat after the workout is over, and best of all, it’s not the most boring thing on earth. Lol :) Check out the brand new Cardio Acceleration Workout Workbook, with 50 interval HIIT workouts–all different lengths and fitness levels. Ox, Jill