Using Running As A Cure To Overcome Addiction, Alcoholism And Binge Drinking

I’ve been a drinker since early adulthood and it has caused me quite a lot of pain over the years. Coming from Northern Ireland, there is little else to do around here besides drink Guinness, paint rival flags on sheep and savage badgers with rolling pins.

Whilst I wouldn’t consider myself as an alcoholic, I’ve certainly went through a phase of drinking too much and feeling bad about it.

It took me 8 years to learn that alcohol ultimately made me depressed, fatter and more confused with my own life.

The vicious cycle of alcohol, fear and paranoia

Alcohol is marketed as a relaxant by the media but if you drink enough of it, it has the complete opposite effect.

The morning after paranoia feeds into fear which breeds anxiety which turns to hate which dissolves into paranoia.

Those very thoughts feed into a vicious cycle that makes you want to pick up the bottle again to drown out all of the drunken arguments you’ve gotten into and all the silly things you might have done.

If you spend your waking hours cringing about your drunken antics, then it will only get worse and worse the more you feed into the cycle.

The problem and the answer then become the same, but when you’re depressed you only see it as the answer.

Running has saved me from problem drinking self

Like alcohol, running is addictive but it only seems to improve my life rather than restricting it and messing it up.

I’ve never came back from a night out drinking with the thought ‘Shit I wish I’d drank more last night!’.

I’ve never came back from a day out running with the thought ‘Shit I wish I hadn’t run as far.’

The longer I run the more my body might ache, but the clearer my mind will feel afterwards.

Running isn’t about denial, binge/problem drinking is.

My problems still exist when I’m outside jogging, it’s just I see them in perspective and I can begin picking them off one by one, as opposed to feeling overwhelmed by everything and hiding within the depths of a booze binge.

In short, running is an addiction worth pursuing.

Feeling bad about your drinking?

If you’re feeling hopeless about alcohol and are looking for a way out, try running. It will add a little bit of positivity to your life and you’ll feel better over time.

The key to battling your way out of the hell of problem drinking is to reduce the net negativity in your life. You don’t have to cut booze out altogether, but you can take steps forward by reducing your intake. When you drink less, less bad things happen.

When you find a little bit of peace, you won’t want to drink for the wrong reasons. You naturally drink less and feel better as there’s less and less to hide from.

When you run more you will naturally attract more positivity into your life and you’ll rely less on a chemical to feel good about yourself. You’ll quickly learn that the ‘peace’ that alcohol gives you pales in comparison to the high you receive from running.

Running your way to happiness.

The more I run, the better I can see how trapped I was before. I’d spend days thinking that I was a good guy who was shunned for being shy. That filled me with resentment which I would repress. Then when I drank all of the bile flew out of me and I didn’t understand where it was coming from.

I’d quickly feel sorry about my behaviour and act polite again and repress everything.

Running has given me the confidence and self-awareness to stand up to a situation and to be angry when it is justified, instead of apologising for existing.

It has given me the balls to live my life in the way I want to live it.

12 Things I’ve Learned About Myself As A Runner After Completing My First 50K Ultra Marathon Race

Well it’s been a week since but I’ve had time to reflect on the experience and here are 12 things that I’ve learnt about myself as a runner.

  1. I have a very poor fuelling strategy – Sometimes I treat my body like it’s a machine. I just pump myself full of Eric the Elephants and Percy Pigs and expect my legs to carry me home in record-time like I’m filling up a Fiesta with Premium Shit. Then I have the audacity to wonder why I’m experiencing traumatic shit attacks. My stomach is not a machine. It will retaliate my expelling anything it does not like right out of my holio.
  2. I am resilient as a runner – Run-walking for 8 hours without giving up, shows that I am tougher than I originally thought. I think that the more you keep battling the more patience and resilience you’re graced with.
  3. I’ve learned that I no longer care what other people think – I broke down in tears in front of a picnicking family, my face was encrusted with gels for around fucking 15 miles and I had to ask the Minister of Justice for Northern Ireland if it was OK to use a Country Park as a public toilet. Who gives a fuck if I run like a woman?
  4. I have learnt that I have a lot in common with other runners – Especially ultra runners. The guys I met out in the field had the same doubts and same grievances but they ultimately pulled through! It’s easy to retreat into your own mind and internalise your doubts. You start to feel alone and the running field seems hostile. This isn’t the reality of the situation and the ultra marathon taught me that everyone out there is essentially the same. It’s too easy to see the running pack as one big group that you don’t belong to. This is not the case.
  5. I can continue on and complete a race even when I think my race is over – I wanted to quit the race after I got lost, but quickly came to the conclusion that there’s no peace in surrender. Your race doesn’t stop if you just quit for a break. You can and will complete it if you keep putting one foot in front of the other. It might take 2 hours or 8 hours but you will get there.
  6. I can complete a race that I haven’t trained properly for – It may have hurt like hell, but I got through it. As with any race distance you have to respect the challenge ahead and train appropriately to make the most out of it. But you are capable of more than you think, if you just try. Sometimes have you to try for the self-belief to arrive. It won’t come on its own.
  7. Finishing last isn’t as bad as I thought it would be – I’m someone who experiences a lot of anxiety dreams where I flunk all of my old school exams and end up being sold by the Queen of England to Thailand as a cock-eyed ladyboy. Finishing last in a race was the worst thing that I thought could happen to me as a runner. Halfway through the 50k I thought a DNF would be better than an 8 hour finish because at least then I could make excuses for myself ‘yeah I’m capable of a sub 5 finish it’s just that I accidentally sprayed Deep Heat onto my balls on race morning!’. Finishing at all was 1,000,000 times better than not finishing.
  8. The mileage limits I’ve been placing upon myself are arbitrary – Before entering the 50k I was really struggling with hitting 15-16 mile long runs. The week after I entered it, I ran my first ever 20 miler in training and then completed the race itself the week after. By smashing through the barriers in the 50k I’m no longer willing to place mental limits on how far can run.
  9. I’ve realised that I am an ultra runner – OK, I might be a really new ultra runner who hasn’t a clue what he’s doing, but that doesn’t stop being a finisher in an ultra marathon. When I first started running I didn’t feel like a runner after completing my first race. This belief didn’t help me any. I ran less. I tried less. I cared less.  Then it dawned on me that sometimes you have to at least pretend that you are a runner to actually become one. Fake it until you make it and all of that hippy bullshit.
  10. I capitulate far too easily – And make bad decisions off the back of fear of collapse. My intake of 6 isotonic gels in Bangor and the subsequent toileting afterwards is a good example of me freaking out a little too quickly. Sometimes it pays to relax, breathe a little and carry on with your race. When you’re out on your own and scared out of your mind, it’s harder to do. But your ability to handle crises comes with experience.
  11. I’m too unwilling to buy new footwear – OK I’ll admit that I was wrong and that it’s sensible to change your shoes every 500 miles. By the time I’d finished the 50k the soles on my shoes had one key similarity to a pharmacy in the Vatican. No rubber anywhere.
  12. Sometimes it’s better to run with music – As you may well know, I don’t run with tunes. I’m thinking twice about this now after Angry Jogger FM played the single “This Race Is Fucking Shit And I’m Never Running Again” on repeat for 8 fucking hours. Music can act as a great distraction from your own bullshit thoughts and help you establish a rhythm.

Compulsive Binge Eating/Overeating As A Runner At Night And A 13.6 Mile Long Run To Cap Off A Quiet Week.

For the past 4 months I’ve been demoralised about my inability to control my violent urges for food at night. I’ll track everything I eat up until around 8pm and then my stomach will begin to growl.

The uneasiness within will grow to such a level that I’ll be forced out of boredom or lack of self control to eat anything. Once I eat one thing, my appetite will gain momentum. The “What the fuck, I might as make this a feast now as I’ve ruined my eating plan” rises to the fore.

It’s those extra calories at night that are hampering my running. It’s not as if my calorie intake is vastly surpassing the energy I burn. In fact I’ve stayed at 211lbs now for about 3 months so I think I’m just about breaking even.

I need to catch those thoughts before they become urges. I mean, it’s OK to eat something at night. It’s just the gung-ho attitude that emerges after I eat one item that’s the issue.

A bad day doesn’t become a bad day until I throw in the towel and give in to the old routine.

My “fuck it” attitude is self defeating.

I rationalise it to myself by thinking “Well I can always run it off tomorrow!”. That may be true, but I’m not running solely to maintain my weight. I want to get faster and go further. I hate the feeling that I’m making reparations for the bad choices I made the night before. I should be making physical gains with each run, not just mental gains.

The simple fact is that I don’t need the extra calories. I’m already eating well over 3,000 a day. That’s more than enough to keep my body going even if I’m running 35 miles a week and walking 30.

It’s a battle that I’m still fighting. I haven’t lost to it yet as I’ve maintained the same weight since July and I’ve learnt more about what triggers the overeating at times. There won’t be a eureka moment where all my problems are solved. I need to focus on making better decisions when the challenge arrives.

I don’t have to make the right decision 100% of the time. 51% of the time would be a fucking start!

13.6 Mile Long Slow Run

An uneventful but pleasant run. I set out with the intention of running further than the 13.5 miles I ran last week and I achieved it even if it was only by a tenth of a mile.

I’m glad to report that my nipples are no longer an issue ever since I’ve applied the Bodyglide and the Vaseline on top! Such a fucking relief. There will be no weeping or screaming in the shower tomorrow.

I had only one angry moment today. It was when a girl disembarked a bus and stopped on the middle of a narrow footpath blocking my way.

She was wearing earphones so couldn’t hear my breathing or passive aggressive stomping. In the end I just ran on the inside of the pavement and nearly ended up in a hedge just to avoid a catastrophic collision.

Oh but the tunes sound so good in ma head, man!!

I wanted to fucking scream “WAKE UP!!” at her but she was clearly dead to the world.

So instead I just ran 0.1 miles pretty quickly and let out a massive “FUCCKKKKKKKKK!!!” when there was no-one else around.

It was the best moment of the day. Cathartic.