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July 22, 2010

Got a Bad Obsession?

"It's a bad obsession, it's always messin' -
Always messin' my mind."
- Guns 'n' Roses, "Bad Obsession" (video after post)

It seems to happen at some point in the development of every runner: a tipping point of sorts when an activity that started simply as a healthy habit becomes something more. Our identity becomes intertwined with the lifestyle, and we try to absorb as much information as we can about the sport.

When that time comes, some of us might call ourselves obsessed.

Of course, there are different levels of obsession. My friend Mike and I are both pretty knowledgeable about most aspects of running, but we know some people who would put us to shame with their passion for everything related to this pastime we share. And that’s not something we necessarily strive to emulate.

I guess what we’re saying is that it’s possible to become too focused on running - and we used that thought as the premise for last week’s Monterey Herald column which follows below. It’s a goofy little self-assessment to determine if your individual running obsession is a good one or bad one.

Running Life 07/15/10 “Running Obsession”

So you call yourself a runner? Think you’re obsessed with your running life? Let’s find out.

We had some fun a few months ago when we created a test to rate your running partners – so we’re doing it again, but this time you’re rating yourself! Get yourself a piece of paper, and let’s see how dedicated a runner you really are.

MILES: Give yourself 1 point for each mile that you run in the average week. If you don’t keep track of your miles then give yourself 5 points for each day of the week that you run 30 minutes or more.

RUNNING SHOES: How many types of shoes do you have? If you own regular running shoes, add 5 points for each pair. Add 7 points for each pair of trail shoes. Add 10 for each pair of racing flats, 15 for each pair of running spikes or Vibram FiveFingers, and 20 if you’re brave enough to go barefoot!

PERIODICALS: Award 5 points if you subscribe to Runner’s World magazine, 10 points for Running Times, and 15 points for Marathon and Beyond. Score 20 points if you regularly get Running Research News.

BOOKS: Add 10 points for the number of times you have read each of these books: Once a Runner by John L. Parker Jr., Running & Being by Dr. George Sheehan, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, Galloway's Book on Running by Jeff Galloway, and Running with the Buffaloes by Chris Lear.

(*Web bonus: if your favorite running book isn't mentioned here, feel free to let me know in the comments)

WORKOUTS: Give yourself 5 points for each type of workout you’ve done in the last 3 months. Fartlek. Hill repeats. Form drills including butt kicks, high knees, and karaoke. Tempo. Planned marathon pace. Yasso 800’s.

RUNNING HEROES: If your role model is Dean Karnazes give yourself 1 point. If you are motivated by Kara Goucher and Ryan Hall give yourself 5 points. If you admire Deena Kastor and Meb Keflezighi, score 10. Likewise with Bill Rogers or Frank Shorter (for you older folks) – still 10. If you are inspired by Terry Fox or Sarah Reinertsen, score 15. If Scott Jurek or Anton Krupicka are more your style give yourself 20. If no one impresses you but Quenton Cassidy, score 25. If you don’t recognize any of these names, minus 50.

TRAVEL TO RACES: Score 25 points for each trip you’ve made to a race in the last six months that required a passport. Score 20 for each race that required air travel. Give yourself 15 for races that required at least one night in a hotel. Add 5 for each race you did that you slept at home.

THURSDAY MORNINGS: If your first thought on Thursday morning is about reading The Running Life, give yourself 20 points.

Yes, that last category was self serving … but we’re just trying to fluff up your score a bit. And now it’s time for the results! Check your total score and place it in one of the following groups:

OVER 300: Dude … wow. You’re totally obsessed. Have you seen your spouse or kids lately?

200 to 299: You’ve always got running on the brain … and your friends probably consider you absent-minded.

100 to 199: This seems about average – we’ll call this “running balanced”.

60 to 99: So you have a running life … but not very much of one.

Under 60: You want to learn about this strange lifestyle, but haven’t quite jumped in yet; we’ll call you “run-curious.”

Now feel free to test your training partners, and compare your scores!

As for the song: Guns ‘n’ Roses will forever be known for their phenomenal debut album, but their follow-up discs demonstrated flashes – such as the song that follows - of just how talented and versatile they could truly be. They undoubtedly had the ability to be one of the greatest rock bands of all time, which is why it was so agonizing for fans like me to see them implode in a drug-and-alcohol fueled fury so quickly in the 1990s. Of course, with those guys, such an ending was probably inevitable - so maybe the real surprise is that they kept their acts together for long enough to crank out three full-length albums without any of them suffering a fatal overdose.

Guns 'n' Roses, "Bad Obsession" (click to play - and since it's GnR, it should be considered unsuitable for little ears):


Anonymous,  7/23/10, 12:24 AM  

Donald, my favorite book is "A step beyond: A defintive guide to ultrarunning" by Don Allison.

Lynette@ A Hodge Podge Of Randomness 7/23/10, 5:56 AM  

I've really enjoyed
Run Like A Mother by McDowell and Shea
Barefoot Running by Sandler
The Barefoot Running Book by Robillard

Richard 7/23/10, 6:28 AM  

Kilian Jornet most be worth some points! Again to Carthage, the sequel of Once a runner is also excellent.

I'll have to tell my spouse that for once my shoes are earning me points!!! She has a problem with my number of shoes and backpacks.

Richard 7/23/10, 6:31 AM  

Almost forgot more technical books:
Lore of running - Adam Noakes
Daniels' Running Formula - Jack Daniels

Spokane Al 7/23/10, 7:31 AM  

This may date me but I can recall excitedly purchasing The Complete Book of Running by James Fixx when it was first published.

And as a long time reader of Runner's World (since 1977 when it was owned by Bob Anderson and published in Mountain View, CA) I eagerly looked forward to the monthly columns of Dr George Sheehan and Joe Henderson (and of course all of their books - I have autographed copies from each of them after listening to them speak).

Thanks for the trip back down memory lane.

New Ultra Runner 7/23/10, 10:32 AM  

I have to add John Vonhof's "Fixing Your Feet" as the most helpful running book I've read. I'll also give a vote for Daniel's Running Formula.

Anonymous,  7/23/10, 11:41 PM  

Don't forget the book "Why We Run" by Bernd Heinrich.

shel 7/24/10, 3:44 AM  

how many point do i get for subscribing to that obscure, ultrarunning magazine, with it's oodles of race reports and results. yes, i read the results... even if the race is on the left coast. i scored a 210.. but i cheated a little. i didn't know how to categorize my 2 pairs of teva protons, and called them regular running shoes.. :-)

Boris Terzic 7/26/10, 4:36 AM  

I tried tallying up the points but its too many...

j.edge 7/26/10, 12:07 PM  

marakumi's "what i talk about when i talk about running" and sillitoe's "loneliness of the long distance runner" should surely be included as running literature. . . ?

and you might be obsessed if you compile a measure of one's obsession. . . . i enjoy yr posts.

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