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How Running Saved Me from Being an Alcoholic

“The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life.”

— Dr. George Sheehan

I used to drink a lot. When I didn’t have my kids, those nights were spent drinking. Especially on the weekends.

Both Friday and Saturday nights were for pounding the beers at home. Alone. And the day after was spent in bed with hangovers. Many times, I would also drink during the week missing work the next day.

It was common for me to drink as soon as I got home from work (if I had made it to work that day).

Drinking was an escape from my problems and my life. It took away the pain even if it was only for a few hours. And I was good at it.

I used to wake up feeling like sh*t all the time, my yellow eyes staring back at me in the mirror. I’m sure my liver was in bad shape.

But I was too scared to go to the doctor for fear of them telling me I needed to stop drinking. It was a friend I didn’t want to see leave.

running saved me
Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

I can’t recall the day I decided I needed to change or what made me choose running, but it was one of the best days of my life.

When I was a few years younger, I would run occasionally. It was nothing serious and there were no smartphones, no apps to track pace, miles or anything like that. I started off with a walkman and headphones the size of New Jersey. I eventually traded up to a fanny pack holding my portable CD player, and I tried not to bounce up and down too much because then the disc would skip. You older runners know what I’m talking about.

But I always enjoyed going for a run. And being I was getting out of shape from the drinking, sleeping, and lack of activity, running seemed like a good way to get healthier.

So I downloaded the C25K app to start me on my journey.

What a journey it has been too.

running saved me
Photo by Brian Metzler on Unsplash

Those first couple of months were horrible. I was out of shape and being a little older than when I used to run, my body didn’t cooperate like it did in my younger days.

I was sore. I was in pain and had difficulty breathing during those runs. But it was exhilarating. It was miserable and wonderful all at the same time. And I wanted more.

So I kept running. Not much at first as I needed time to adjust from drinking several beers to running several miles. Given the beers were much easier to drink than running the miles, it was a battle.

But I persisted.

I became a runner instead of an alcoholic. Running saved me.

That moment occurred over two years ago.

Sometimes the universe, God, or whatever you believe in gives you what you need. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. I don’t claim to know.

But at the same time I began to run, a good friend started his running journey too. And we didn’t know about each other running until several months later. We both needed to change, and running was the answer.

I remember being excited to tell him I had ran 4 miles without stopping. At the time, this was an incredible feat for me. It was something I will never forget. Those 4 miles were probably the best run I’ve ever had. It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t painless, but it was the beginning of a transformation.

Since that time, I’ve run several half-marathons, an ultramarathon, and have a marathon soon. I’ve run numerous other races and will surpass 1,000 miles for the year at the end of the month. And my friend has run the same races right along with me. 5k’s, 10k’s, trail races, and a few odd numbers in between, I am proud of what I’ve accomplished. I’m proud of what my friend has accomplished.

I’m proud to be a runner. And I’m proud to be a part of the running community. Running has changed my life.  Running saved me and my life I believe.

running saved me
Photo by Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash

So instead of waking up with a hangover, I may wake up with a 10-mile run. Instead of drinking the night away, I get to bed early so I can run early.

I don’t want to get drunk anymore because it interferes with my runs. Running has replaced my drinking. The alternative of drinking is no longer an option. I may still have a few beers here and there, but those happen on my rest days.

I no longer buy beer when I go to the store. I no longer go through a 12-pack in one sitting. And I don’t miss it for one second.

Running saved me from becoming an alcoholic. Running saved me, period. Because I’m addicted. But instead of being addicted to alcohol, I’m addicted to running. 

I think that is a pretty fair trade-off.

Running saved me so I need to write about it and share it with others. How has running changed your life? You can share your story too! Click on the link below to find out how to write for my running publication on Medium. 

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