The practice of physical exercise produces psychological and physical benefits. running , specifically: reduces stress, improves cardiovascular capacity, reduces the risk of illness, etc. Therefore, in order to have a healthy life, it is advisable to make running or physical exercise part of our lives, as it is an important component of well-being.
But anything taken to the extreme can be harmful , and running is no exception. Nowadays, the fashion for running leads many people to become obsessed with it. Richard Benyo, in an article published in Road Runners Club of America , states that “there is a negative side to physical exercise that, little by little, in an insidious way, can replace the positive effect”.
Running addiction is not the same as overtraining
Runnorexia is not the same as overtraining . The obsession with running can lead an individual to over-train, which can cause over-training. The symptoms of overtraining are short term, and have to do with the recovery and rest period. In this sense, it can be said that runnorexia is linked to Overtraining Syndrome.
Runnorexia or running addiction, on the other hand, is a loss of perspective on the role of physical exercise in a person’s life . While a person may suffer from a period of overtraining because a major competition is approaching and they have poorly planned their training, a person with runnorexia suffers from a more serious problem. In this case, there are important psychological aspects: irrational beliefs, low self-esteem, etc.
In addition to these aspects, social factors are a source of this disorder, as culture and social pressure for aesthetics and image play an important role in the development of this pathology. On the other hand, some experts also claim that there are biological factors that cause this addiction, since there seems to be a connection between the pleasant chemicals released by the brain when practicing physical activity (endorphins, dopamine, etc.) and this disorder, just as it happens with drug addiction. That is, the brain area of reinforcement is involved in addictive and obsessive behaviors is also involved in runnorexia.
The psychologist Eduardo Carreño, in an interview for the newspaper Asturias 24 , explains: “There are two types of addictions: addictions to substances (drugs) and to behaviour (addiction to work, shopping, sports, etc)”. As we can see, the case of addiction to running is an addiction to an activity and the pleasure generated by the practice in question.
Symptoms presented by the person with runnorexia
The person with runnorexia overestimates running, making it the most important element in their life even above family, friends, work, etc.
He is able to cancel appointments or not attend the workplace in order to go running. Fatigue or injuries do not prevent him from doing his training sessions, as the discomfort he feels if he does not do these sessions is greater than he is. His free time is devoted to running, and his life moves with only one idea in his head : running.
The symptoms it presents are identical to those of the addict to any type of physical exercise (for example, fitness). These symptoms appear when the person cannot perform the physical activity, and can be: anxiety, depression or irritability.