So powerful is this addiction that Willoughby (1977) has suggested that the United States Congress should enact legislation requiring the following warning to be displayed on all running shoes, shorts, or blogs:
WARNING: The Psychiatrist General has determined that jogging and running are hazardous to mental health and present a grave risk of contracting contagious quasiran-domous wanderitis (QW) or “jogging about.” (p. 17)
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Sacks (1981) emphasized particularly the psychological component of these withdrawal symptoms:
The running addict is characterized by a compulsive need to run at least once and sometimes twice a day. If prevented from running, such runners become irriExercises, restless, sleepless and preoccupied with guilty thoughts that the body will decondition or deteriorate in some way. The running addict recognizes the irrationality of those feelings and thoughts, but they are inescapable and can be relieved only by running, (p. 128)
With this background, let us consider in more detail the arguments for and against the addictiveness of running.
The Arguments for a Running Addiction The Biochemical Argument
This argument contends that running is addictive because it stimulates the release of certain hormones inside the brain, the endorphins or enkephalins, which give runners pleasurable feelings when they are joggingthe so-called runner’s high (Callen, 1983). The brain then becomes dependent on these pleasure-producing substances just as it does with other potentially addictive substances like heroin, cocaine, or morphine. But, as with all addictions, the euphoric feelings can only be maintained if the dosage (i.e, running distance) is continually increased.