I became addicted to alcohol when I was very young. From age 9 all I knew was a life of chasing one high after another. Addiction cost me nearly two decades of meaningful relationships, missed opportunities and life in general. It wasn’t until I found myself in prison for 2 years that I realized how much I had lost when I was getting high and drunk.
When in prison all the losses brought by addiction came crashing down on me as I realized that I had to make a change. I knew that in recovery I could regain at least some of the things I had lost like my relationships with my loved ones and a meaningful life.
My mistake was believing that all I had to do was make my mind up to change and the change would come. I ended up sublimating my drug and alcohol addiction by becoming a workaholic. This, of course, sent me down a twisted dark path of relapse that ended in an attempt to take my own life before I finally admitted myself into rehab.
Rehab turned out to be the best decision of my life. There I found support, guidance and the tools to succeed. One of these tools was exercise and while I’ve never been much of an athlete, I tried various things hoping to find anything that could help me feel better so that’s how I came to try jogging, and let me tell you, it was hard to do as I was so out of shape, but I never felt more free and more in touch with myself than when I gave jogging a shot.
To be completely honest, jogging has saved me from temptation more times than I can count and has been my saving grace throughout these 4 years of recovery. I swear by it and would urge anyone that hasn’t tried it to give it a go. It’s probably not enough for me to just say that it has changed my life, so I want to share with you the top 5 ways that jogging got me through my most difficult times.
As an addict, I basically spent most of my days locked up in a room or sitting in a bar, or some other equivalent, just wasting my days drowning in alcohol and drugs.
When I started jogging, I suddenly had something to do that was both healthy and fulfilling that took up a good amount of time in my day. It required some kind of scheduling and gave me a sense of purpose.
I also found that when jogging, my mind wasn’t idle. I had to focus on my breathing, my pace, my route, I could appreciate the scenery and the fresh air, and my mind would never wander onto my past.
I’ve always had trouble falling and staying asleep by natural means. On the other hand, when I was drunk or drugged I was knocked out and stayed asleep for alarming amounts of time.
When I started jogging regularly I found that I was finally able to sleep properly. Be it the workout or the peace of mind, when my head hits the pillow I’m out like a light. On most nights I get a good 8 hours of sleep if not a full 10. I also don’t feel tired when I wake up anymore. In fact, I feel energized and rejuvenated. I don’t know what I love more, the feeling of getting into bed all ready to go to sleep or waking up in the morning feeling fresh and ready to conquer another day.
I’m not very good at talking about my feelings with other people or working through frustrations as they come. As an addict, I would just be incredibly moody and lash out at whoever was around me at the time until I proceeded to try and escape reality at the bottom of a bottle. Negative emotions are an addict’s worst enemy, so learning to control my stress and anxiety was vital to avoid a relapse.
Now I just wait until it’s time for my jog and exert all the pent up emotions when I’m running. I run fast, run longer or take a more demanding route, whatever I need to get out I make a point to do it when I’m running. And it works. It really, truly works.
This is a huge one. I have been awkward and insecure for as long as I can remember and that’s one of the biggest reasons I started using just to feel more confident and sure of myself.
After about week of jogging, I found that I just felt really good about myself, better than I had in years. Soon enough I lost the pooch I had gotten from lying around for years, and even got some muscle definition all over my body. Now I’m standing straight and tall when I look at my reflection with the genuine feeling that I look good.
I meet some really great people when I’m out jogging. People from all walks of life, of different ages, with different goals and aspirations. I met my closest friends through jogging. I can’t imagine how else I could have come into contact with all these people and have been able to build such great connections, but I am so incredibly grateful that I did.
It Changed My Life
I truly hope that you find some fraction of the joy that jogging has brought into my life, if not by jogging, than through any other kind of physical exercise. If you have, then please feel free to share your experience below.