Can You Be Addicted to Running?

You may think so after hearing about Dave Brewer. According to Newsweek, he’s what the running world calls a “streaker.” That refers to his streak of jogging at least two miles a day – every day – for the past 25 years! Brewer says he runs no matter what the weather is like – sunny, rainy, or even in sleet and snow. Experts say there are thousands of other streakers in the world, who push themselves to run every day! Are they crossing the line into addiction?

Dr. Gloria Balague is a psychologist from the University of Illinois. She says the answer to that question boils down to why you run. That's because a lot of streakers are simply challenging themselves to see how long they can follow through with a goal – and that’s healthy. Dr. Balague says problems set in if you believe you don’t have a choice to run. Like if you’re always late for work because you felt like you had to squeeze in one more mile during your jog. Or if you find yourself feeling shame or regret on days when you don’t run. Dr. Balague says those are common red flags that you may have an addiction problem.

The reality is that lots of new research has confirmed that there’s a specific area of the brain that gets stimulated when we do things that make us feel good – whether it’s exercising, eating, gambling or taking drugs. These activities release dopamine in your brain - a feel-good chemical. Unfortunately, some people are more prone to these dopamine spikes than others. If your need to feel pleasure interferes with other areas of your life, then you need to get help. Yes, even for being addicted to running.

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