I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the relationship between running and drinking. From reading sober blogs it seems a lot of us throw the time and energy we spent drinking into running, as a distraction or a healing therapy.
Running has been a consistent factor in my battles with anxiety, eating problems and then finally, drinking. I started running to get thinner, to help me on my quest to numb anxiety and drown put uncomfortable feelings by obsessively worrying about my body shape. But I soon fell in love with it and it became my medicine as well as my punisher. The amount of joy I have derived over the years from running has been huge, and it’s become a big part of my identity- friends, family and colleagues class me as a ‘real runner’, someone who they get inspired by and look up to as someone really dedicated to it. What they don’t know is, I’ve been sabotaging my running efforts with wine.
The number of mornings I’ve got up hungover and pushed myself through an unpleasant run I cannot recall. I think that running so much is actually one of the reasons my drinking got so bad- I justified my drinking by having such a ‘healthy lifestyle’ in other areas. Sometimes, I’d get home from running and immediately crack open the wine.
But now I’m a few weeks (3 WEEKS GUYS, 3 WEEKS!) sober it feels like running is playing a more positive role in my reflections on sobriety.
On Day 4, I wrote this to Belle, and it’s resonating more and more as I take each step on this journey. It likens the 100 day challenge to marathon running:
When you start running, it’s easy for the first few miles, you feel fantastic, energised, know there’s a long road ahead, but you’ve mentally prepared for it and know you can finish. When it gets tough, you dig deep, remember your end goal and how it would feel to quit, and just keep putting one foot until the other until you ride out the pain.
This is how I feel about my 100 day challenge now. I often think when I’m cursing running “Well this isn’t MEANT to be easy” and I push through the tough times. If I can remember that giving up drinking isn’t meant to be a walk in the park, but that like a marathon, if I can push through the bits where all you want to do is collapse into the gutter, the rewards I’ll receive will be incredible.
This non-drinking lark is definitely a marathon not a sprint. But today, the endorphins have worn off and I’ve got the ‘post race blues’ after my sober party triumph on Saturday.
Today is a definitely a tough day. I feel fantastic most days, and am so grateful to be sober, but today, all I want to do is drink wine. I really, really want to open a bottle of red tonight and relax into it. I’m tired after a busy weekend, in need of some comfort and me-time and for the first time in my sobriety I feel like a delicious bottle of red is the only option. I can almost taste it.
I’m pushing through this thought, because I’ve come so far and it would be devastating to throw it all away again. I’m planning a cinema visit tonight to distract myself and will take some sort of food treat with me. For the first time, I’m actually scared I will give in to the craving. I haven’t been this unsure in my sobriety the whole time I’ve been doing this challenge.
I’m trying to remember that like with running, there are days when the last thing you want to do is get on your trainers and go out of the door, but you feel fantastic afterwards. Today the last thing I want to do is stay sober, but I’m thinking about the feeling when I wake up tomorrow morning and likening it to that post-run glow.
Tonight, drinking isn’t the answer. Looking after myself is.