Thank you to the lovely person over at the Sober Womens Awareness Group on FB who brought this article to my attention and to The Fix for running it (excuse the pun!) This article is about how those of us who were marathon session former drunks make really unstoppable runners and why exercise can provide an excellent escape from addiction. Here’s part two following on from yesterday’s part one.
What Running Can Do for You
If you’ve read this far, maybe you’re serious about cleaning up. You should know that whatever recovery bricks you lay down, when you quit you’ll be left staring at a void. It can be scary and cavernous. You’ll probably start filling it with food. Lots of food. Many folks pack on a good 20-30 pounds the first few years. Lacing up will guard against that. But beneath the flesh, you’ll melt away other, more significant nasties: some moral and emotional cellulite. So just in time, here are six reasons why running is also the perfect balm for your now-miserable sober ass.
1. Flee without fleeing
Running allows you both to escape yourself and to tunnel within. At the same time, with every step, you’ll be reminded that you can’t truly run away from your problems or your past: Your head will always be on your shoulders and your demons will keep on clearing their throats and flexing their biceps. But the more you run, the more they’ll tire.
2. Therapy, Prozac and priest rolled into one
Every runner has a story and the road is a good listener. There are plenty of addicts, one-time assholes and angry bitches in the ranks, as well as the formerly-homeless, orphans, widows, maimed veterans and the otherwise-stricken. Start telling your tale to the most important audience of all: yourself. You’ll find that you incrementally rejoin the human race—a spiritual conversion in and of itself. And don’t underestimate the power of endorphins. You won’t get fucked-up off the runner’s high and it may take a while to start feeling that particular swoon, but when you do, you’ll find yourself in tune with the world, juiced with affection, potency and above all, clarity. A bearable unbearable-lightness.
3. You, meet Momentum
Except when it comes to getting your drink on, thinking about getting your drink on, and muting the volume on each, you’ve been stagnant for years. Running will inject forward progress into your life, at first physically, then emotionally and psychologically. It’s a “do” to balance out the “don’t” of not drinking. Sobriety doesn’t have to bring a screeching halt: With one foot in front of the other, one run at a time, every mile a small victory, running can translate symbolism into reality.
4. Muting the joyless noise
You’re probably familiar with the vacuous soundtrack of joylessness, and are perhaps no stranger to cowardice. Running will allow you to take action, and to soften some of your hard places, opening space for confidence to start seeping in. Getting out the door, gathering at a starting line, will teach you to be present—and that the first step to any true success, large or small, is simply showing up.
5. You don’t have to join a group
Hit the road solo or dip in and out of the running community. Members are supportive, but also respectful, and understand the strong individual component that dwells at the heart of running. You will often get a wave and a knowing look. That sliver of comfort can make your morning. You may even get a little company for a mile or two. Or you can politely wave it away. Runners don’t judge other runners.
6. The joys of ownership
You’ll learn to run in all conditions: through puddles, on ice, in snowstorms, in the dark. As the miles pile up, running will change your relationship with your environment, external and internal, and allow you to own the rain, the cold, the streets, your chaos, your joy and fears, your breath, your heartbeat—yourself.
Caleb Daniloff is the author of “Running Ransom Road: Confronting the Past, One Marathon at a Time.”
- With one foot in front of the other, one run at a time, every mile a small victory, running can translate symbolism into reality.
- As the miles pile up, running will change your relationship with your environment, external and internal, and allow you to own the rain, the cold, the streets, your chaos, your joy and fears, your breath, your heartbeat—yourself.
And these two sentences are why I run and continue to run. Running as therapy – it works for me 😉