Ask the Goat: Once an addict, always an addict

As a recovering addict, I cannot overstate how important running has been in the process of “walking the line.”

Ask the Goat by Chris Knodel

Ask the Goat
by Chris Knodel

It has kept me clean, sober and non-smoking for many years. In addition, I can’t remember the last time I simply punched someone in the face during a “blackout” or “rage” episode. Each morning, I wake up knowing where I am, who I am with and where my truck is. Only those that have lived in the gutter realize what a relief it is to truly know those simple facts as dawn approaches.

However, I never lose sight that I am an addict. I wasn’t cured, nor am I recovered. I often see posts from “former addicts,” touting their rehabilitation as if it was a wart they removed at home. You don’t fix addiction — it can only be redirected towards something else. For me, it was running. The problem is that all addictions have downsides. Even running to get your fix can lead you into some affiliated disorders.

Additive Limelight Disorder is what I have been seeing most-often in the running community. You won’t find it in the DSM-IV manual of clinical disorders. I coined the term to reflect a growing trend of “running addicts.” These individuals moved out of alcoholism, drug use and active anger episodes.

I would never downplay how strong they were to move forward.But addicts are addicts, and we have to satiate that urge. For many, running itself just isn’t enough. Some runners just are not at peace running. They need more.

ALD is the need to use running (or any activity) to aggrandize one’s self. This quite simply means sharing how far we’ve come as addict athletes. We do more races, run faster, grow stronger and just cannot seem to keep it all in. We post every workout, every race, every life we’ve ever touched. There are a growing number of those afflicted with ALD out there. You can find them on Facebook and Twitter. They are often mercurial when publically “shamed” by a failure. They often have a string of posts justifying their setbacks, promising more strength or outlining their comeback.

Running is enough for me. The production of endorphins, serotonin and adrenaline fills the chemical need. The intensity, sweat and power development satiates the physical need. The fatigue, statistics and sense of accomplishment offers mental completion. But unlike so many runner-addicts, I don’t feel the need to justify my failures. If I quit a race, I beat myself up internally. I have never believed the limelight is a place for self-discovery. I maintain that peace and reflection should be done alone –from the shadows.

Chris Knodel is a Mangum Track Club member and Sandhills Region native. He is the author of “More, Better Quicker – The Irish Goat: A Fat-Boy & His Path to Ultra-Distance.” His column will appear each Thursday on

Filed in: Outdoors, Sports

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