Tag Archives: running

The Day Wolfie Ran A Marathon

7 Apr

Now I’m further away from my last drink, what ‘the wolfie voice’ means to me is slightly different. He’s no longer telling me to neck wine, but operates in more subtle ways, eroding my self esteem with his negative chatter.

One place I thought I was free of negative self talk was running. My running club friends call me ‘smiler’ because no matter how hard the race or bad the weather, I’m always beaming as I run. Not yesterday. 

This wasn’t my first marathon, but it was certainly my toughest. 

Before Christmas, I’d completed a marathon with a PB I was REALLY proud of and came into this race feeling strong and confident. Surely, all the training plus not drinking for 3 months would mean I could achieve a similar time?

The city I was running in was bathed in glorious sunshine, and I was really excited as the crowds danced to the pre-race music. I had my power playlist ready, checked my sobriety counter and felt a little swell of pride as the pack of runners moved off.

The first 10k was hot, crowded and a little too fast for my liking, so I stopped to take an energy gel and douse myself in cold water. From that moment on, the wolfie voice was in my head the whole race: ‘Look how hard you’re finding this, LAST time you ran a marathon you had the remnants of a 2 day hangover. Sobriety’s not working out so well for you eh?’ (WHAT THE ACTUAL F**K?!) and more general negativity: ‘You’re so weak, so tired, what a failure…’ etc etc

Having 20 miles of that sort of head noise is soul destroying. A fair few tears were shed on the course as I contemplated dropping out. I knew all my running friends were at home checking the race app to follow my split times every 5k and my ego was severely bruised. Should I fake injury and drop out?

All I could turn over in my head between miles 18 and 19 was whether this was a horrific enough experience to warrant a drink. Again, madness. I knew I wouldn’t, but I tortured myself with that thought over and over again. 

Some lessons must have been learnt on that course, with wolfie running along beside me, whispering his venom. What those lessons are right now, I’m not sure. I’ve been upset and irritable all day, but I’m trying to remember that completing a marathon is a huge achievement whether it takes you 3 hours or 5 hours and that it’s a privilege to run at all.

Tonight involves a bath, clean sheets and an early night to reward myself for getting through.

Happy Monday lovely sober bloggers!


11 Feb

I originally started this blog to talk about my struggle with food and weight, and then from my writing my realisation that drinking was the real problem emerged. It was a real shock. I was originally focused on quitting drinking as a means to weight loss: in the space of 18 months I’d gone from an emaciated underweight person to a healthier looking shape, but one whose weight came from the increased booze intake, not necessarily a better relationship with food.

My relationship with food now is probably the healthiest its ever been- I don’t restrict myself too much and don’t have huge guilt over eating sweet things or not existing off vegetables alone. But the reality is, I feel fat.

 I’m marathon training at the moment, and completed a race last weekend where some photos went up of me online. I look really heavy. I nearly cried when I saw them. I’m used to looking thin and elegant and in my running clothes I looked squat and a bit dumpy.

But my body is stronger and fitter than its ever been, it’s more nourished than its been in years and mentally, my relationship with food is better. I’m really struggling to reconcile these two opposing things- on the one hand feeling stronger and healthier and on the other hand feeling really fat and unattractive.

I’m not quite sure what to do. I don’t want to launch myself into a diet plan, because quite frankly, I don’t have the energy to get caught up in thoughts of restriction and rules. I’m running huge amounts, but I’ve learnt that for me, my body no longer responds to running because it’s so used to that kind of exercise. I’ve been running for 8 years and at first, weight dropped off but now it never does.

The most obvious solution to make a change to my body is to eat clean, nourishing food and to employ the “listen to my body” strategy, fueling it as needed, but I don’t yet trust myself to do that. If I did that, I think I’d just want to eat all the time. I can’t yet distinguish between hunger, emotional hunger and just wanting a sweet treat.

I don’t actually need to lose very much weight at all to look slim, so it’s not something I should be thinking so much about, but I haven’t lost anything at all since stopping drinking and definitely gained over Christmas when I was drinking again. I feel completely powerless over my weight, which isn’t necessarily true, but I don’t feel I can change it without some dramatic regime I’m not willing to do right now. This probably isn’t true, and some small daily changes could start to make a difference over time, but the idea of doing anything at all feels exhausting.

 I know I have to be patient and put sobriety first and not get too hungry (being hungry really makes me crave alcohol) but I’m finding it really hard to look at myself in the mirror every day. Sometimes I feel like I literally shift shape before my very eyes as I look at my reflection.

I hate the self-absorption of worrying about weight, but the truth is, I see my shape now as a symbol of my alcoholism and shame. If I hadn’t started drinking, I probably would still be very thin, and my body just feels like a product of my binges. But at the same time, it’s strong and toned, just carrying a little more fat than I’d like.

Why do we focus on our bodies so much? I’m the strongest I’ve ever been emotionally, and yet I dwell on this external manifestation of self.

I’m going to try this week to make small steps, just focusing on each food choice as a nourishing one, a bit of a “day at a time” approach to food, not starving myself, just trying to make the best possible choice available. We’ll see how that goes. 

The Drinks Trolley

7 Feb

While my colleagues went to drink warm, weak mojitos at the Friday bar in our work, I laced up my running shoes and took a gorgeous evening run round London.

I went along one of my favourite routes along the Thames, but made sure to take a detour past my old work which is very close to the river.

I left that job 14 months ago as it was incredibly toxic for me. I had a bullying boss, a ridiculously high pressured job and was miserable there by the end. When it got unbearable, I took things into my own hands and handed in my notice, which was one of the most liberating things I’ve ever done. In many ways, that bold decision has paved the way for other bold decisions in the past year- leaving my home and relationship and ultimately, quitting drinking.

I’d intended to run past the old office because it would remind me how far I’ve come, but what I had COMPLETELY forgotten about was how my serious drinking career actually started in those very 4 walls.

When I moved to London at the age of 23, I’d had probably 2-3 years of not drinking very much at all, without really thinking about it. I’d had a really tough degree to get through that needed full focus and then had taken my first job in my home town, living with my parents and not really having any opportunities or the desire to drink.

So when I took this big, exciting job in London I threw myself into it, especially the social scene. I work in the media, and it seemed at every moment there was an opportunity to drink. I weighed around 7 stone at the time, was barely eating, marathon training and had no tolerance for alcohol. The first night I went out with the team I drank 3 large glasses of red wine which literally floored me. I was absolutely mortified. I can still so vividly remember the sensation of knowing I should eat something to sober up and trying to force down a burger, but my mouth being so incredibly dry I could barely chew.

I resolved to drink less with colleagues after fearing I’d made a bad impression, but with the endless merry go round of free bars, award ceremonies and after-work pow wows about the latest team drama, that didn’t last long. My tolerance for wine grew and my taste for red became voracious. I started to crave it, swerving the gym to go and drink, which wasn’t like me at all.

Running past that building tonight I can pinpoint the night my drinking took an irreversible downward spiral. I know alcoholism is a progressive disease, and my drinking got slowly worse as it went on, but I can honestly say for me, there was one weekend which changed everything.

The month before That fateful Weekend, I’d been tasked with injecting some team spirit into our organisation, which was going through lots of uncomfortable changes. I went to visit another creative business for inspiration, and came back with a notebook bursting with suggestions.

The one single idea that was picked up was to install a “drinks trolley” on a Friday to encourage people who weren’t up for the pub to have a drink and socialise with colleagues, to build a bit of camaraderie.

I was pretty pleased one of my suggestions had been taken on but was disappointed to find that the trolley’s debut (!) fell on the night before my (now-ex) boyfriend was moving to another city for 6 months.

I was supposed to be going to a farewell meal for him and his brother, but had time for a quick glass of wine at the drinks trolley before I went. I started chatting away and the wine was flowing, so I stayed for another, and another, and another. I ran off to the toilets to text my boyfriend and tell him I was caught up in a horrific deadline and would be late. I remember barely being able to type the words, and coming out with nonsensical predictive text which I put down to not being able to operate a touch screen phone. Bollocks. I was wasted. But I carried on drinking.

I got home at 11pm that night, and I’d like to say that having missed the meal, I was full of remorse, but I don’t think I cared, actually. Which isn’t like me at all, and horrifies me to type it, but it’s true.

The next day I had to endure a hungover 3 hour car ride to drop off boyf’s things at his new place. I remember the sweet relief of having a glass of wine over dinner, the magic glass that eased the hangover.

And the next night, when he was gone, and I faced the prospect of living in my flat alone for the next 6 months, drinking half a bottle of wine to dull the fear. I’ve mentioned that moment on this blog before, but I was sitting in front of the TV watching Homeland and drinking the wine thinking, “this is dangerous: I love it.” Drinking alone had begun. Lying to someone else and myself had begun. Drinking to numb shame and loneliness had well and truly begun.

From thereon, Friday nights getting drunk in the office were a highlight of my week. Often after everyone had gone home and left the drinks trolley still amply stocked, I snuck off with a glass (bottle) to my computer to “finish up some work” and drank alone in the office. I believed I was genuinely working. What lies I told myself.

Soon, I started buying a bottle of wine to have a glass of on my lovely balcony a couple of times a week, ending up finishing the bottle falling asleep on the sofa and awaking feeling like shit thinking “WHAT am I doing this for?!”

But at that time, it didn’t feel like a problem at all. It just felt like a habit I’d got into that I could kick at any time.

Writing this post, I’ve realised it’s almost 2 years TO THE DAY that that first incident in the office happened. Which makes me incredibly grateful to have started to get on top it now. Two years of heavy drinking (one of which was actively trying to stop) is small in the scheme of things, but the fact it declined so quickly to a point I feel I have no other option than AA speaks volumes. I read something, somewhere, that says women alcoholics can fall victim to drinks effects incredibly quickly, and I suppose I’m a walking testimony of that.

So today, on that run, I gazed up at the big building I used to spend my Friday nights in drunk, and thought how far I’ve come, how much stronger I feel now and how I know that the only path for me is the sober path.

Happy Friday!

Sober Marathon

26 Dec

Alot of posting at the moment, and it’s helping.

Today’s thought’s are on the parallels between running and sobriety, which strike me so frequently.

This morning I’ve realised that that through slipping up and drinking, I haven’t failed, or lost, I’ve just had a blip. I’m a little Sober-Tiara-Wearing-Badass-In-Training, working towards a sober marathon.

When I first started running 8 years ago, did I lace up my shoes and knock out 26 miles, just like that? NO. I struggled along, one mile at a time, taking years to build up my fitness and courage to tackle the big distance. Today I ran up a hill near my parents house that used to terrify me, but it fact, it’s more of a slight incline than a hill. My perspective on the size of that “hill” has changed through persistence and practice, doing the same thing over and over again: putting one foot in front of another.

And when you do that, you make great progress. This year, I ran a marathon in San Francisco which is, excuse my French, a hilly fucker. Achieved something I never thought was possible. And I did it because I’ve kept my running consistent and worked towards a big goal, taking confidence from my training and previous races.

It feels like this year has been a series of short distance sobriety sprints. I did a 10k in August (25 days), a 5k in September (12 days) and a half marathon in November and December (41 days) with lots of training sober sprints in between. Even though I’ve slipped up, I haven’t unlearnt what I learnt then about sobriety, about how to practice self care and how brilliant sobriety is.

Like with running, I’m working towards a bigger better goal every time I lace up my sober sneakers. Sober marathon here I come 🙂

24 Hours in a Day

20 Nov

Before I ran a marathon a few weeks ago, one of my friends I was training with said to me: ‘the way I stop myself getting scared is by thinking this is just 4 hours out of 24 hours in my day, 4 hours of discomfort for the most amazing feeling when I finish.’ 

This week, I’ve been keeping this brilliant idea at the forefront of my mind.

My ‘witching hours’ are between 4 and 8pm, when I’m tired, a bit fed up at work and want to slip into a glass of merlot. 

Like clockwork, it’s come again today, the subtle creep of wolfie’s seduction dance. I can taste the wine and anticipate myself relaxing, but I won’t give in. 

I’m keeping focused and strong, it’s just 4 hours out of my day where he creeps in, and I’ll feel amazing tomorrow when I’ve kicked his arse. 

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