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Hardcore admission

All right, I'll admit it. When it comes to exercise, I lean towards the hardcore. I'm one of those people who tend to get a little grumpy when I miss a planned workout.

"Can I run later?" I remember asking the nurse just before they ran what seemed like 25 metres of hose through my innards.

"Runners," she snorted, "you're all nuts."

Those hardcore tendencies were driven home again on Monday, after an e-mail exchange between a few of the regulars who come out for our long Sunday runs. One member of our group apologized to another for changing her mind about joining one of the options for that day: eight to 10 times around a two-kilometre loop at marathon goal pace, plus a few Ks of warm-up and cool-down.

It's considered a pretty hard workout.

"I'm sorry for baling out on the loop run yesterday," she wrote. "My hamstring has been giving me grief. I didn't want to push it too much, so I did a 34K [run] — nice and easy."

Now for the vast majority of even the fittest people, there's nothing easy about staying on your feet for 34 K. I felt like a bit of a slacker for only putting in 32.

I suppose it's all relative. But while it may be hardcore, it's a long way from being something to be worried about. At least I hope so.

There's a big difference between being hardcore and being addicted to exercise. Exercise addiction is usually a sign that something else is seriously wrong and can be coupled with an eating disorder, like anorexia, bulimia or binge eating.

Exercise addiction — sometimes called anorexia athletica is cause for concern. You might have it if you:

  • Get out and exercise even if you're sick or injured.
  • Are never satisfied with your athletic performance.
  • Work out a lot harder than you have to in order to maintain your level of fitness.
  • Are preoccupied with your workout, your diet and body fat.
  • Take time from your relationships, work and other obligations in order to fit in your workouts.
  • Exercise because you have to, not because you enjoy it.

Yeah, I exercise more than I need to just to maintain fitness and a healthy weight. It's probably why some mornings I feel like the Tin Man on the Wizard of Oz, before Dorothy applies oil to his seized-up joints. Makes that first trip down the stairs a very tentative act.

But you don't have to be hardcore to reap the benefits. Half an hour a day, three or four times a week and those benefits could very well go beyond better fitting clothes.

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