Fitness and Recovery
Kicking booze was hard enough, at the ripe old age of 22 it was nothing short of a miracle. Staying off the sauce for more than nineteen years (and counting) has been a second miracle. Finding a beautiful recovering wife a third. Becoming something of a success in business, a fourth. Good kids, a fifth… Of course, you could lump that into one big miracle. There was a lot of work that went into accepting those miracles, but there was one thing I’d missed. After quitting all mood or mind altering substances, eventually (and especially) cigarettes, I gained a lot of weight.
You walk down the road and see the fit people from time to time. Some are thick, others thin. That was me. We’re not talking about the kids now, we’re talking about the 30 and older crowd. I’ve always been one of the thin ones and they say it’s because I’m lucky…
It almost wasn’t that way, I quit smoking cigarettes when I was 33, eleven years sober, and weighed 155 lbs. Five months later I was pushing 195 and was well on my way to growing a second chin. I actually stood in front of the mirror one morning and decided that I would just get fat. I can still remember the day. That’s lucky alright.
The day after deciding that I’d succumb to flab, blaming it on age, I changed my mind. My wife had joined a few friends and began something of a running club. I joined my wife and her club for a run, one of the fellas taking me under his wing. We had talked about running, my wife and I, before, but I was dead set against it. I said things like, “it’s bad for your knees” and “it’s not really good for you” and “I hate running”… I made it a mile and a half on my first try and thought I was going to cough up both lungs.
Our club is nothing special as far as professionalism goes – we don’t have a sponsor, there is no funding other than personal donations…it’s just a group, several recovering friends meeting once a week at a host’s house to let our endorphins play. There are usually six to ten of us, though we’ve had groups in the summer up to twenty including our kids. This club turned out to be one of the most integral parts of my recovery, I don’t know what I’d have done without it.
There is a reason that we say that life sober is better, not easier. It’s not easy and sometimes it’s a down right pain in the butt with no escape from having to deal with life’s every day problems… This is where exercising comes in. I’ve read countless articles, spouting knowledge derived from dozens of studies that give the reasons why exercise is good for you, trying to gain a little bit of understanding as to why it works to kill the day to day stress. I can sum up all of those articles in a sentence for those with a little faith: Who cares why it works, the trick is that it does. Without a doubt, running has kept me in good enough shape, physically and mentally, to handle life. So I look at it this way, we can sit around and discuss it for hours, till we’re all blue in the face…or go out for an hour or two, get red-faced, and prove it.
The golden rule for running, and really any exercise is this: We run/ride/swim to fix the things most people use for excuses to sit on the couch.
Next up: How to set up your own running club. It’ll be a short post.