Running in recovery from alcoholism and addiction

Running and keeping fit in recovery from alcoholism, has helped me more that AA!

Running has been a great help to me in the years I have been in recovery. I can see the changes in my body, feel much stronger and can breathe easier. I am much happier, can sleep better and am much more motivated throughout the day. I was encouraged to run, years ago when I was depressed but did not want to, as I felt so tired. I think if I had started exercising more back then I would have avoided many problems later on. It has probably helped me more than joining a recovery group like AA!

Running releases a lot of endorphins in the brain which are natural opiates. If you are a regular runner you will find the effect more powerful and this is sometimes refered to, as the runners high. It can help motivate you to keep exercising. Endorphins are often produced by drug use which make you feel good for a while and so running is much more useful way of making yourself feel happy and it also obviously helps your cardiovascular system. When you are reasonably fit the chemicals will leave you feeling energised after a run and will help you throughout the day.

Park where I run

Park where I run

I follow a lot of blogs that are talking about the positive sides of recovery and the methods that work for different people. I think that those who, are living a healthy lifestyle are doing best at recovery. Many talk about the benefits of exercise, meditation and a healthy diet. I think you have really turned the corner in the battle against addiction, when these things become a priority in life. Addiction and alcohol are not so much an issue, if you have made looking after your body and your mind a priority and are doing something about changing the way you are. Alcohol becomes a poison that you are not interested in. Cooking good, fresh foods is another thing that many are doing and this gives you another positive,healthy thing to enjoy and look forward to as part of your day. Several people are writing, and doing something about their sugar intake, which has become a priority for them, since they have put down the drink. That is real progress for people who were drinking to blot out part of their life a year before. I think they stand a good chance of have many  great alcohol free years in the future.

I sometimes run past an AA meeting on a Sunday where I used to go and I always see the same old crowd outside, smoking away. It is such a shame, that these people do not spend more time on getting fit and living a healthy lifestyle as I am sure it would have a good effect on them in all areas of their life. In a way, I think my drinking was simply a part of a dysfunctional lifestyle and once I have changed other things in my life it no longer seems like something I wish to do. The same goes for smoking and drugs. The hard part was stopping the drinking so I could see what was going on, so that I could adjust my lifestyle. I think you will really be helped by exercise if you wish to stay alcohol free longterm. It has become central to way of living life and I no longer have to motivate myself to do it, which was they case at first.

Another benefit of healthy activity is that you will meet other really positive, healthy people who probably won’t be heavy drinkers to socialise with. I have found this to be the case with Yoga and Pilates groups and often see people out in the park where I run who I recognise and that makes me feel good. I am very lucky in that I am often able to go to the swimming pool and gym, in a Premier League football club and am surrounded by friendly, juice drinking health fans.

I identify myself with these people, rather than alcoholics these days. I have a pretty good self-image, for somebody with my past. The important thing is to keep the bad stuff in the past and move on, and I think leaving recovery based groups such as AA which kept me anchored to the past was the best thing for me to do. I do not think that identifying myself as an alcoholic these days, would be  a very accurate description any more and I am very pleased about that!



Commenting area

  1. hey just read your blog , great going and you summed up the whole needing to breakaway away from the previous life and leaving it behind, i have been running for a year it has transformed my life , diet,friends,employment,education all benefiting from i believe the motivation running has given me.

  2. Thanks for dropping by. I still run a lot and it really helps me regulate stress and sleep which were issues in the past. The fitness and diet thing is also so important. I was told to exercise when I first had depression but could not bring myself to do it, but I managed to find the motivation about 7 years ago to really give it a go and it has really changed things. I have a few different places to run and bump into all kinds of people, who are living positive lifestyles, and that makes you feel less of an addict and more of sportsman which is a total change of self image.

  3. ok great site glad i found you and as for the running / surviving depression, may i suggest to you this piece by simon lamb bi polar sufferer

    • Thanks for that, I had not seen that video before but it is really inspiring. I must come back to this subject and will try to get something on as well. I was talking to 4 people yesterday about this and they were all resistant to running although they do exercise in other ways. They all say it is too hard and it is at first especially when you are middle aged, but after a few months of taking it easy I enjoyed the benefits.
      I fell over about 3 months ago and actually had to stop running for a bit, and really missed it. I was not sleeping as well and put on a bit of weight straight away. It also gives me a break from the stress of work and issues with home life. I try to run in a few different places and have discovered a few beautiful sites in London that I probably would not have visited otherwise.

      It has been a gradual transformation for me. I also learnt about meditation, and took up Pilates and Yoga which made me much more aware of my body and what needed changing. I have a much more healthy diet and the running has really helped build my strength up. All this has made me view life in a different way, and has helped many areas of my life. I find I can concentrate better and have much more flexibility. I tend not to get colds or other things that go round at work. It also keeps me motivated to stay away from drink and drugs as I know that these would make me feel worse, or stop me doinbg the things I really enjoy. I could not imagine smoking these days for example. I’m not saying running is a cure for everything, but it does seem to help so many people who have had difficulties in life with depression. The fact that you only need a pair of trainers and just have to go out the front door to do it means there are no excuses to get going. I am off along the Thames in London in about 15 minutes!

  4. hi, yes totally the longer you’ve been running the more you notice and attend to your own health, the two seem to go side by side, without doubt its the one thing thats made more noticeable changes in a good way than anything else in my life in dealing with anxiety /depression/ substance misuse.

    yes i agree its not a cure all fix, just another tool in the box to stay healthy, what i do think is that what makes it great is its relationship to the five steps of well being

    1. be active……. speaks for itself mindful….. as you said running takes you places you would not normally go and makes you be become aware of your physical and spiritual self. connected / sociable… running is such an inclusive activity, where else can you after a few months training and maybe the odd park run get up and enter an event for fun that hundreds if not thousands of others are involved in, and possibly alongside professional athletes. I also like the way it doesn’t judge on colour/gender/social class if you are a runner and you get talking about running to another runner you meet no one cares what background your from.

    4.keep learning… as anyone who runs knows you soon start gobbling up all the information you can find on running and diet and tips from here there and everywhere.

    5.give… by sharing your knowledge and experience as you become more confident with running you can really help and support others to benefit from an all round more healthy lifestyle.
    I hope your run along the thames brought you some nice moments of peace, I’m resting till sunday as running the Needles half Marathon xc where i live on the isle of wight on sunday.
    best wishes

    • Good luck with the race at the Needles, a great place for it. I agree with all you say and in my own case am really surprised by the change and how it has changed the way I view myself. It has given me self confidence, and something that I have achieved for myself. I noticed that many people including the site owner on Soberistas are running and talk about the positive side as well. I think people who change there life in this way are less likely to relapse as they have found respect for their body.

      I had no respect for my body 10 years ago and viewed people who excel isle as boring. I would never have meditated either and would have said that was new age bollox! Today they are key parts of my life and certainly help me deal with everything out there. For me it was a slow change at first but once I got going, I really noticed the change.

  5. Dharma dude March 12, 2017 at 4:48 pm · · Reply

    I recognise that park. Do you know of any sober running groups n london .

  6. Dharma dude March 12, 2017 at 4:48 pm · · Reply

    Do you know of any sober running groups in London ?

  7. I don’t know of any sober running groups in London. I have been away from formal recovery groups for some time now and my recovery friends are based all over the world and I tend to chat with them online. A sober running group would be fun though. Let me know if you find one!

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>