Recovering from alcoholism is not always a fun task. If done well, a person will usually find that they have a truck-load of character defects to deal with. Chief among them would be the desire to stretch the truth to suit one’s situation (many people simply call that lying, others call it politics) and the ability to seamlessly tailor and buy into that stretching of the truth. There are others too numerous to list. If one is to truly gain the great enjoyment of living a sober life those defects of character must be acknowledged and rectified. There is no easy way around the task either, think of it as removing a bandage – you can do it slowly but it hurts a lot worse than if you just grit your teeth and get it done. And that’s just the first year… After that the real work starts.
The rewards that come with this choice in lifestyle are immense and usually well-earned. Most people aren’t blessed with a plan of action and a support system meant to improve life beyond their current capacity for thought. Unfortunately though, practicing this lifestyle is difficult. The sober lifestyle requires utter honesty, is stressful and sometimes even exhausting. This is where physical fitness plays a huge part.
In my case, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I have found exercise to be the one thing that can take an otherwise good recovery to the next level. I had an old-timer tell me long ago that if I stuck with it, one day I would get to a point where I just didn’t think life could get any better… And a short while later I realized that it did. I have been there many times over and it is amazing when it happens. When I’m running or riding it happens quicker and quite a bit more frequently.
When you take a person who drinks to escape, then wrecks their life to live in perpetual escape, then they remove the escape, well folks… We have a problem.
For the first two years of my recovery I rollerbladed – a lot . Between 8 and 16 miles a few days a week and up to 40 miles on Saturdays (I could average 16 mph on the eight mile loop easily… My fastest time was 24 minutes and some change… 40 miles didn’t take as long as you’d think). I didn’t know why I loved it so much back then, I was too new to recovery to be able to put everything together in my head. Of course, I really didn’t care either, but the exercise was akin to getting my escape back, only in a healthy way.
Then I went for a stretch without – the Dictators who manage Oakland County Metroparks, in response to sue happy losers suing for hurting themselves on the path (and idiot juries granting the sue-happy losers money), decided to require helmets and restrict speeds to 10 mph. I quit going the day after the first signs went up.
After that I took up golf, and as far as I could hit, daily practice actually was exercise (310, 340 with a tailwind), but I mustn’t kid myself too much… Then I quit cigarettes and before I knew it, started to get chubby. Then I started running, and eventually added cycling – and that, cycling, is what really got me fired up about exercise again – I love it more than I did rollerblading by an order of magnitude. The final piece of the puzzle was this blog, for which I pay deeper attention to not only what is going on around me but within as well.
Today I get my escape, it’s healthy (in every sense of the word – including that I don’t overdo it, uh too much), and unlike alcohol, the escape makes me a better person.
Fixing what was wrong with me, the things that caused me to repeatedly step in front of the locomotive and blissfully smile while rolling my eyes skyward as it ran me over yet again was the most important part of recovery. Without that, none of the other awesome things that I’ve enjoyed could have been possible. Without running and riding I have no doubt I’d still be recovering – I just wouldn’t be enjoying my life near as much as I do.
To wrap this post up, if you were paying attention, there’s a minor flaw. A fly in the ointment. If I spent the time to fix my defects of character, why the need to escape? What could I be running from?
Anymore it’s not so much about running from anything as it is about just getting away from the chaos that life is. I need the peace and quite…even if I get it at a semi-furious pace on a bike. If that isn’t good enough: We like progress, not perfection.