Why Former Drunks Make Unstoppable Runners
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 a Boston-based writer and the author of Running Ransom Road: Confronting the Past One Marathon at a Time (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012). Click here to view the book trailer. He was previously interviewed by The Fix about his recovery, running and writing.