People always say runners are crazy and I have certainly never claimed to be “normal”. Whatever that is. But lately I’ve been thinking that there is a ton of insanity in the literary world and they just might take the cake.
It started when I read Zelda, the story of F Scott Fitzgerald’s wife and their life together. I vaguely knew about his alcoholism and just assumed he was a bit of a tortured soul (what great artist isn’t?) But I had no idea the extent of it or what he went through with his shizophrenic and deeply troubled wife.
The book touched on his relationship with Hemingway and got me thinking about how so many great writers struggle with alcohol and various addictions. Fitzgerald, Hemingway, King, Parker, Byron, Thompson, Rand. The list goes on and on covering everything from booze to women to opium to amphetamines and gambling. Turns out Balzac drank up to 50 cups of coffee and later resorted to eating dry grounds. Wow.
I sometimes wonder if I’m addicted to exercise. I certainly crave it and feel much worse when I take a couple weeks off after a marathon or forced injury break. And while I think exercise is good for you I wonder about the health benefits of running 26.2 miles. Yet I love it and continue to do so. I’ve run when I shouldn’t and used it to numb problems or take the edge off anxiety. When I first struggled with injuries I simply subsititued cross training for the same effect. That really lost its luster after awhile and in some ways being hurt for so long was a blessing in disguise because it started to teach me how to face my demons instead of run from them. I do agree that working out is a great source of stress relief but I think it can be abused.
I still crave exercise and I’m not sure I’ll ever “quit”. I’ll likely be someone who works out almost every day for the rest of my life because it brings me so much joy. And part of being a competitive marathon runner involves running a LOT of miles. Probably way more than any doctor would recommend for general health guidelines. I’m ok with that as long as I can take a few weeks off here and there without my world crumbling. And while I will always run and hope to compete for a long time I certain don’t envision myself pounding out 100 miles a week when I’m 50. But I do find it interesting how socially acceptable it is to work out excessively and wonder how many people struggle with this.
Are you addicted to running? Is that ok? Where do you draw the line? I would be interested to hear your thoughts.