Running is addictive.
Unfortunately for me, so is everything else I’ve ever tried.
I have a massively addictive personality and once I find something new that I enjoy doing I will pursue it relentlessly until I burn myself out. Generally this results it me owning a lot of gear for a hobby that I have grown tired of (usually within a matter of weeks. Sometime’s days). This is most evident with a glance around my apartment. There are remnants of abandoned hobbies everywhere. Whether it’s the 6 Rubik’s Cubes on the bookshelf, the selection of harmonicas in the spare room or the unused baseball equipment on the shelves in the living room, the evidence is plain to see! The latter of these I’m particularly proud of. After getting addicted (see what I mean!) to watching the MLB season one year, I decided this was going to be my new sport. Not doing things by halves, I imported a load of equipment from the US and (im)patiently awaited their arrival. By the time they turned up, I had already grown bored of that hobby and moved onto the next one (I honestly don’t remember what that thing was) – hence the unused baseball decorations adorning my living room.
Anyway, over the years I’ve learned to channel these obsessions into being a bit more productive and to make them last more than a few weeks. I’ve found that as long as I keep myself immersed in the activity, my interest never wanes. It’s probably not healthy, but that’s just how I work. It’s either all or nothing. There is no middle ground.
For my other hobby, climbing, this is easy. All my friends are climbers. My girlfriend is a climber. Even my cousins are climbers. It doesn’t matter if I’m hanging out, on a date or at a family event, the conversation will inevitably be drawn to climbing. I can’t escape it. It’s perfect!
Not many of my friends are runners though. My dad is, but I only get home every few weeks so this alone isn’t often enough to keep my attention from straying. So I have to find other methods. I read a lot of internet running forums. Most prominently /r/running on reddit. I watch running videos on YouTube (if you haven’t watched any of the ‘Salomon TV’ films on YouTube, I’d highly recommend them). And most recently I’ve been reading a couple of Dean Karnazes’ books, which have got me fascinated with the idea of attempting an ultra-marathon at some point (Lakeland 50 in 2018?).
However, the thing that has me hooked the most and is responsible for most of my day being spent looking forward to my run is…a virtual badge. It’s basically a picture of a medal, on the internet, that you have to earn by running. The ones I am referring to are the badges from Smashrun (click here to see my Smashrun profile if you’re interested). There are badges for all sorts of running related achievements. They range from running your first mile all the way up to running every single day of the year. It’s ridiculous, I know. I get nothing tangible out of earning a badge, other than the fact I had to run to earn them, but they play to my addictions. They reeled me in with a few easy-to-get badges, like the 1 mile or 1 hour ones. Now they have me hooked trying to get some of the bigger achievement ones. For instance, I’m currently working my way towards a badge for running 20 days in a row. After that there’s 50 days, 100, 365…I could be on at this for a while. It’s just what I need!
So there you have it. I’ve spent years trying to figure out what would keep me interested in my hobbies once the initial attraction wore off.
It turns out the answer is imaginary internet medals. Who knew?