Running & Sobriety Similarities
BEING SOBER IS LIKE BEING A RUNNER:
1.) "Run for Your Life". In the beginning, just a short time ago (40 years to be exact), I hit the concrete not out of desire, but out of aversion. I wasn't an 8 year old wanting to breath in the fresh Spring air, watch the robins dance around the tulip trees and feel the wind against my full stride. What I wanted was to not feel. To not feel fat. I ran to avoid suffering. I tried to outrun the panic of hormones, curves in my butt, boobs. I ran to avoid being called "pudgy". I ran to save my life. The idea of being fat was more then this 8 yr old could handle at the time. (more on that later).
In the beginning of sobriety, just a short time ago ( I mean that this time, 2 yrs. ago) I didn't stop drinking to make new sober friends, do activities without booze, breath in mornings like a honey suckle. What I wanted was to not feel that horrible pain on the other end of the stick. When I picked up that stick, one end was the PaRTythe other end was Pain. It always came, it was waiting for me like a debt from overspending, like a breakup after a cheat, it was the grim reaper in the morning and I just couldn't outrun it anymore. I quit drinking to save my life.
2.) "Not Every Run is Fun". Some runs are amazing, breath-giving, brilliant. The sights you get to witness on foot, in nature, bright-eyed and bushy tailed are life-giving. Your heart is pumping and your legs are on fire, (a good fire) and you just feel super-heroish, like flying. But, some mornings you don't want to get out of bed. It's raining. It cold. You would rather not. You finally get your gear on, it's dark, and your legs are like tree trunks. You feel sluggish and heavy... it sucks. You're not in the mood to enjoy it today, you just do it, because you are a runner, and that is what runners do, they run. Most days being a sober women is something I feel proud to be, I feel energized from, I feel light and happy (just like being a runner). Most days I feel dedicated and strong. I identify with being a sober women just like identifying with being an athlete. I like this about me. But, some days it takes time that I don't want to donate to my sobriety. Some events I would rather not be sober to attend. Some parties are really tough to get through without partaking in the cocktails. That's the deal, it is what it is. Runner run. Sober folks do the sober work. It is not free to be a runner or sober, it takes commitment.
Every day, rain or shine, dark or light, easy or hard, fun or not. If this is what you want, you do it.
3.) "Keep Going": Runners don't run once and say they are a runner. Sobriety is not that way either. It is something you do, everyday. As a runner you have a training schedule, you may have a coach or running team or group, you invest in your shoes and running gear. You may read running magazines. You hang out with other runners. You may even compete, go to races, travel for running. You are a runner like you are an American or Catholic. This is who you are. Yesterday, today and tomorrow. You don't introduce yourself as a runner if you no longer run. You may talk about how your used to, but that feels crappy so you prob just don't mention it. When someone says "I am a runner" that means they run, now, then, when. When someone is living a sober life, it is all the time, not just on the weekdays, not when they were in their 20's, not some time in the future. It is now, then, when. It doesn't end.
4.) "Injuries & Relapses": This is not exactly the same thing. A runner usually experiences pain or injury from overuse. Sobriety experiences pain or relapse from underuse. Once a runner is injured it is really hard to recover because the burning desire to get back on the track makes it hard to stay still and wait for healing. Yet, once a sober person relapses they need to move in the opposite direction as the runner. FAST. They need to jump right back on track as soon as possible to prevent further injury. Hopefully when both the runner and sober person get back on the road they are wiser, take it smarter, know how to better protect themselves... body, mind and heart. They may need to re-evaluate their training schedule. Runners back off, sobriety moves in tighter. Runners may need to get advice from fellow runners and run with others more often to stay at a healthy pace. Sobriety does the same thing. We help each other.
5.) "It Doesn't Get Old, It Gets Better": Ask any runner the first months or even year of running is freakintough. You feel clumsy, tired, hungry, pushed, panic, weak, punished, pissed. The first months of sobriety are freakintough too. But you keep going because your vision is your goal. You envision "BETTER". You have a goal for yourself, you have a drive for better. You keep going and it starts working. This whole " I don't want to feel uncomfortable so I don't want to do anything hard, ever" is behind this opiate epidemic. As GlennonDoyle says "Be afraid of the easy buttons". When we step up to the plate the plate steps up to us. The reward is threaded into every promised or punishing step on that amazing run of life. We don't do sobriety because it's easy, we do it because we want BETTER. We want to cross that finish line everyday and say "I LOVE MYSELF!" We want to feel light, and happy and young and powerful and free! That's why we run. That's why we chose sobriety. When I pick up the stick of sobriety on one end I pick up commitment/uncomfortable/inconvenient and the other end is powerful/self-love/clarity/high-health. When I pick up the stick of running on one end is commitment/uncomfortable/inconvenient and the other end is powerful/bliss/clarity/health.
There is no stick in the universe that does not have two ends. Whatever we pick up, we pick up both ends.
I love this running sober. Sober run. This life run of sobriety. photo by Ryan Magnani