Running and Addiction
21 January. 2020 • Category: Running | PAWS | Withdrawal | Addiction | Mental Health | Recovery | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
There are a lot of people who run, and they all have different reasons. Some run for their mental health, and a lot who run to escape from addictions. The question is, why does it help?
- A sense of achievement. It doesn’t matter how far or how fast you run. Every single step is further than most addicts did before, and bettering yourself, regardless of everyone else, is an amazing feeling. I went from non-runner to doing four half marathons in a year. It felt bloody good to be able to achieve something that I had no hope of doing before.
- It gives you something to focus on, if you’re giving up an addiction, it is likely that you’ll have a lot of time on your hands, having something to do, where you see genuine results based on what you put in can be a game changer.
- Running channels your energy and your mind. Many addicts use their substance of choice to calm a chaotic mind. Running does the same thing, but without a hangover. Although you might ache sometimes.
- Running regularly reduces stress, anxiety and depression as well as improving self-esteem and sleep. You aren’t running away from anything, but instead dulling the feelings of worry and panic, and developing a healthy coping strategy.
- I’ve been told that as running hard affects your body in the same way as a panic attack can, and so can help you learn to cope better with the symptoms, for example, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, feeling hot or sweaty, etc. It won’t take the panic attacks away necessarily, but it might like me, help you stop panicking about having one.
- It’s as social as you want it to be, join a club and meet some people, or don’t and do it by yourself. It’s so flexible and doesn’t cost a lot, besides a good pair of trainers.
- It’s great thinking time, and enables you to process a lot of what is going on in your mind.
Running boosts feel good chemicals in your body dopamine in the body called endorphins, which help reduce the perception you have of pain, so instead of self-medicating with alcohol for example, your body can instead relieve some pain on it’s own.
Endorphins also trigger a non-substance related positive feeling in the body, which has become known as a ‘runner's high’.
Some argue that it is merely swapping one addiction for another, and maybe that is true, especially when we think about ultramarathoners who need more than a bit of grit to run the distances they do. I know if I had to to pick one addiction, I’d prefer to pick running over drinking!
Thanks for reading!