A Ive always been prone to feeling A Maybe Im still in denial! I

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                                                                                                                                TRAINING

         Are you a
         running addict?                               CASE STUDY
         Take the following self-test to make
                                                     HILL-HURTLING MASOCHIST AND BRITISH
         sure you are not dangerously
                                                     CHAMPIONSHIP-WINNING ORIENTEER
         exercise-dependent                          ALAN VELECKY, 43, FROM LEWES, EAST

         1.   Always                                 SUSSEX, TELLS ALL ABOUT HIS BRUSH WITH
                                                     EXERCISE ADDICTION
         2.   Often
         3.   Sometimes                              Q   What were the first warning
                                                         signs that you had developed an
         4.   Never                                  unhealthy relationship with exercise?




                                                     A
         Do you exercise every day                              I’ve always been prone to feeling
         of the week?                                           a bit out of sorts if it’s been a
         Do you exercise regardless of minor                    couple of days or more since I
         injuries or tiredness?                      last ran or cycled – generally a feeling
                                                     of lethargy, sometimes combined with
         Do your training sessions end up
                                                     restlessness and irritability. Over the last
         being longer and/or harder than you
                                                     few years, competitive success has started
         intend beforehand?
                                                     to matter more to me. As the season
         Do you partake in high-intensity            reaches its peak, I’ve focused more on
         training more than three times              preparing mentally and physically for
         per week?                                   races than on anything else. This makes
         Do you exercise primarily to change         it harder to engage with family life, work
         or enhance your mood?                       or friends; everything else seems less
                                                     important. Afterwards, when the key
         If you miss a training session, do you
         feel moody, guilty and/or depressed?        races have passed, I can end up feeling
                                                     guilty, like I’ve got my priorities wrong,
         Do you prioritise training over             and asking myself why it’s so important
         socialising or other activities?            to me to do well at my sport. When this
         Do you train alone?                         happened last year, coinciding with a
                                                     period of stress and sleeplessness, I knew
         Do you stick rigidly to a regime,
         training at set times on set routes, etc?   I needed to take a step back.



                                                     Q
         Do friends or loved ones express                 They say the first step to recovery            emotionally and physically sated. I love
         concern or disapproval about the                 is admitting the problem. So, are              being out on the hills or the forest on my
         amount you train?                           you an exercise addict?                             own – it suits my personality, and good
         10-15                                                                                           ideas come to me when I’m running. I



                                                     A
                                                                Maybe I’m still in denial! I’m not       love the intensity of racing too, where for
         The warning sirens are screaming. You
                                                                sure I’m a compulsive exerciser.         an hour or so you’re totally in the zone
         are a classic negative addict, and your
         compulsion to train hard regardless of
                                                                It’s not just about exercise; it’s the   – nothing else exists. Winning a big race
         the consequences may be doing you           whole way sport gives meaning to my life.           like the British Orienteering Championships
         harm. It’s time to get things back under    Through sport, I’m able to set myself goals         gives me a huge sense of achievement
         control – seek professional advice.         and accomplish them, and push myself                which lasts for months – nothing else in my
                                                     beyond what I thought I could achieve.              life gives me that.
         16-25                                       It’s a private little world where the general
         You’re walking a tightrope and you
         could at any point fall into the trap of
         harmful exercise-dependence and
                                                     chaos and complexity of life is kept at
                                                     bay. It’s something I’ve done since I was
                                                     a kid, and it feels as natural to me as
                                                                                                         Q     What have you done to redress
                                                                                                               the balance?




                                                                                                         A
         overtraining. You may think you’re just     breathing. The problem is fitting this in                     Last September, I resolved to do
         being strong-willed, but the chances        with the other people in my life, who I                       more easy runs and to try to run
         are your training is out of balance         don’t want to end up neglecting. Juggling                     for enjoyment rather than to push
         and you’re pushing yourself too hard.       life with small children, a demanding               myself. But it didn’t work, mainly because
         Reign it in now to prevent more serious     career and other responsibilities is not            pushing myself when I train is such a
         problems in future.                         easy. In the context of hectic family life,         habit, and also because I didn’t want to
                                                     being committed to sport can easily look            give up racing. I haven’t trained any less
         26-35                                       like selfishness and self-indulgence.               over winter and spring, but I have been
         You are committed to training and take                                                          much more selective about the races I

                                                     Q
         it seriously, which is fine. Just make            What do you think led to                      do, to give me more time with family at
         sure you keep exercise in perspective
                                                           this problem?                                 weekends. That worked OK, but at the end
         and don’t allow it to dominate your life
                                                                                                         of the racing season, I still found myself



                                                     A
         completely. Consider training more
                                                               It’s something I’ve always done           questioning whether I was putting too
         intelligently rather than more intensely.
                                                               – a habit. It makes me feel good,         much into my sport. I think in some ways
         35+                                                   and there’s a health benefit and a
                                                     chemical buzz from the endorphins. When
                                                                                                         it’s healthy to question that – for me, it’s
                                                                                                         always going to be a precarious balance.
         You understand the importance of rest
                                                     I’m training hard and getting fit, there’s
         and prioritise your training accordingly.
         What’s more, you listen to your body and
                                                     a sense of being lean and energised,                ■ MANY THANKS: ALAN VELECKY FOR
         don’t punish yourself for having other      almost like a coiled spring – running or            ALL HIS INPUT, AND TO CHARTERED SPORT
         interests. Keep up this smart approach;     cycling feels effortless. My happiest day of        AND EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGIST DR JEREMY
         it will serve you well.                     the week is on a Sunday, when I’m home              ADAMS PH.D., C.PSYCHOL., AFBPSS, FROM
                                                     and showered after a tough race; I feel             LONDON METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY. RF


                                                                                                                      August 2009   /   Running fitness 41

				
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