I have a confession to make, despite my previous statements I can earnestly and honestly tell you all, I do enjoy running. That has not always been the case for me, as I was the mindset of dreading every training run, local race or running event to the point I had convinced myself that, “running is for criminals.”
Many of my in-laws are avid runners. I have one brother in law in particular who finds great joy in running long distances. My mind can’t understand the reasons why he would like to run 135+ miles when I don’t even like to drive that far. I have done many races; 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon. Each experience had its own challenges, and having a mindset of dread and anguish, running felt like more of a chore then something pleasurable. It wasn’t until this fall that I fully understood what running meant to me, that there is an athlete in each one of us that can carry a message of purpose and direction.
People have asked me why we choose running as our core exercise for Addict II Athlete. I smile and respond, half believing it myself, it is because running is the most simple and basic thing a human being can do. However it takes the most amount of mental strength and ability to engage in. Similarly, the principles of recovery resembled those principles of running. The natural state of an individual is to create peace, comfort and love. Yet those can be the most difficult emotions and principles to maintain.
I have spoken with many people over the years that ‘hate running’ and have come to the conclusion that the number one reason they don’t like it is because they can’t do it well. They go for a run and are in discomfort the entire time. Sounds eerily like those in early recovery, each group or social interaction can be very uncomfortable. Why is that? It is because they are working harder than their body can handle comfortably. We tend to make it more difficult than it has to be and don’t pace ourselves. So I ask you, “Can you run a marathon (26.2 miles) tomorrow?” If you can, you are probably either wasting your time on this blog or heard of the group and wanted to check it out. If you think you can’t run a marathon, what about a half marathon? A 10K (6.2 miles – what is it with the .2 miles anyway)? How about a 5K? One mile? What about 100 yards?
If you have gone for a run of whatever distance – long or short – and thought the whole way, “I hate this,” what made you think you could run that distance in your current shape? And that applies to couch potatoes or former runners who said “I think I’ll go for a three mile run today,” after not running for a while. You were just not in shape to run that particular distance.
What an absolute mirror image to those in recovery. I have had many clients say to me that they can’t talk about their problems in a social group setting, and then downplayed their addiction by saying things such as, “it’s only alcohol.” And I have seen clients come into group and become wallflowers because they believe the journey is going to be too difficult. I have seen clients put their head down and trying to sprint through treatment and I have seen clients hit the wall and attempt to take a knee.
The common theme I hear, “I didn’t realize it was going to be this difficult. I didn’t think we were going to talk about those issues. I didn’t realize treatment was going to take so long.” Make no mistake athletes; these are the same feelings and thoughts that will go through your head at various points along any race or journey. Whether it is mile 18 in the marathon or month number three in recovery, we all pass through the same gauntlet of self-doubt, mental anguish and priority adjustment. There is a feeling when you are running simply because you enjoy the experience, not looking at your watch for time and distance however becoming one with your environment. As it is in recovery, there is a simple and powerful experience to be had when you come to the knowledge that you are here to create a better life based on purpose and direction, than to simply suffer through this chapter of life.
Coming down the chute of a race, no matter the distance you have traveled, is one of the most exhilarating feelings you can experience. It is the culmination of your hard work, diligence and self-respect to feel of the delayed gratification that puts all your hard work into perspective. As it is with recovery…all your hard work, sacrifice, willingness, honesty, strength, integrity, value and purpose will help you cross your finish line. Now you’re ready to take on the next event because Athletes…you can do hard things. -Blu