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The Real Dangers Of Running Addiction

by | Apr 16, 2023

This article was read 3468 times. Enjoy!

The Real Dangers Of Running Addiction

Understanding the Dark Side of Endurance Running

Running has been my passion for years, and it has given me a lot of joy and satisfaction. However, as much as I love running, I am also aware of its darker side. In this article, I want to talk about the real dangers of running addiction, and why it’s important to be mindful of them.

What is Running Addiction?

Running addiction, also known as exercise addiction or compulsive exercise, is a behavioural addiction characterized by a compulsive and excessive urge to exercise. People who suffer from running addiction often engage in long hours of intense physical activity, even when they are injured, sick, or exhausted. They may prioritize running over other aspects of their lives, such as work, family, and social relationships, and experience withdrawal symptoms when they are unable to exercise.

The Physical Dangers of Running Addiction

Running addiction can have serious physical consequences, both in the short and long term. Some of the most common physical dangers of running addiction include:

  1. Overuse injuries: Running puts a lot of stress on the joints, muscles, and bones, and overdoing it can lead to injuries such as stress fractures, shin splints, and tendinitis. Overuse injuries can be painful, debilitating, and can take months to heal.
  2. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances: Long hours of intense exercise can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, which can lead to fatigue, muscle cramps, and even organ damage.
  3. Heart problems: While running is generally good for the heart, excessive exercise can lead to heart problems such as arrhythmia, myocarditis, and even sudden cardiac arrest.
  4. Immune system suppression: Intense exercise can weaken the immune system and make runners more susceptible to infections, colds, and flu.
The Psychological Dangers of Running Addiction

Running addiction can also have serious psychological consequences, affecting the way people think, feel, and behave. Some of the most common psychological dangers of running addiction include:

  1. Anxiety and depression: While running can be a natural mood booster, excessive exercise can lead to anxiety, depression, and mood swings.
  2. Body image issues: People with running addiction may become obsessed with their appearance, weight, and body shape, leading to unhealthy eating habits and body dysmorphia.
  3. Social isolation: Running addiction can lead to social isolation, as runners may prioritize their workouts over socializing with friends and family.
  4. Performance anxiety: Runners with addiction may become obsessed with performance, setting unrealistic goals and pushing themselves to the limit, leading to burnout and disappointment.
The Road to Recovery

Recovering from running addiction can be a long and difficult process, but it’s not impossible. Here are some tips to help you overcome your addiction:

  • Recognize that you have a problem: The first step to recovery is acknowledging that you have a problem with running addiction. This can be hard, especially if you have been running for a long time and have developed a strong emotional attachment to it. However, admitting that you have a problem is the first step to overcoming it.
  • Seek professional help: Running addiction is a serious condition that requires professional help. Consider reaching out to a therapist, counsellor, or support group that specializes in exercise addiction. They can help you identify the underlying causes of your addiction, develop coping skills, and set realistic goals for recovery.
  • Take a break: It’s important to take a break from running, especially if you have been overdoing it. This can help your body and mind recover from the stress of exercise and give you a chance to reassess your priorities.
  • Find alternative ways to cope: Running addiction often stems from an underlying need to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression. Consider finding alternative ways to cope, such as meditation, yoga, or art therapy.
  • Set realistic goals: Set realistic goals for your exercise routine and focus on the process, not just the outcome. Instead of obsessing over running longer distances or faster times, focus on enjoying the experience of running and being present in the moment.


Running addiction can be a serious and debilitating condition that can have long-lasting physical and psychological consequences. While running can be a healthy and rewarding activity, it’s important to be mindful of the dangers of addiction and take steps to prevent it. By recognizing the signs of addiction, seeking professional help, taking breaks, finding alternative ways to cope, and setting realistic goals, you can overcome running addiction and enjoy the many benefits of running in a healthy and balanced way.

Patrick Michel

Endurance Runner – Marketing Strategist

Patrick Michel is a Montreal-based endurance runner specializing in long-distance multi-stage charity ultra runs. For almost two decades, he has inspired many to engage in running, get fit and grow stronger physically and mentally. He has also written many articles about running.