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Take Strides Towards Your Long Term Recovery: Try a 5K High

Looking for a boost this spring?

Are you looking for a way to focus your energy?

Do you have energy to burn?

Have you considered taking up running to calm your mind and body?

Running offers many health benefits and could be a perfect way to reinforce your recovery goals!

Once I started running, the flow and good feelings kept me coming back. What I loved about it was the simplicity. Grab some workout clothes, a good pair of running shoes, and you are off. For me, music motivates me to run a little longer, so I bring along my iPod.

Replacing the Addiction

For those of us in recovery, whether it be drugs, alcohol, or being addicted to the addict, it is important to have a replacement for the addiction. So much time and energy goes into the addiction, it is essential that the void be filled. Many in recovery are now runners, and it has helped change their life.

I have enjoyed the few races that I participated in, but for me running is so much more than that. It’s a way to keep my mind and body strong. It makes me feel calm and relaxed. For several hours after running I can still feel the energy from the endorphins, or as they say, the runner’s high. My heart is pumping and my blood is flowing. It’s a healthy feeling.

I recently read Positive Addiction, by William Glasser. Although some of the ideas about addiction have changed since this book was written, the idea that a negative addiction can be replaced by a positive addiction to help support long-term recovery is still very relevant.

Running, he says is the hardest, but surest way to positive addiction. It is our most ancient and still most effective survival method. Watch a child, and notice that they seem to have to learn to walk, but not to run. How many times do we tell our kids to stop running!?

“Running, perhaps because it is our most basic solitary survival activity, produces the non-self–critical state more effectively than any other practice.” – William Glasser

A positive addiction can be anything according to Dr. Glasser, as long as it fills the following criteria:

  • It is something noncompetitive that you choose to do and you can devote an hour a day to.
  • It is possible for you to do it easily and it doesn’t take a great deal of mental effort to do it well.
  • You can do it alone or rarely with others, but it does not depend upon others to do it.
  • You believe that it has some value (physical, mental, or spiritual) for you.
  • You believe that if you persist at it you will improve.
  • You can do it without criticizing yourself.

Positive Addiction vs Negative Addiction

Dr. Glasser goes on to describe the difference between a positive addiction and a negative addiction. A positive addiction increases mental strength, a negative addiction saps strength from every part of your life. Negative addiction feels good but does harm, positive addiction can feel bad but does good. He says the reason negative addiction is so powerful and difficult to break is that it relieves the pain of our failure to obtain love and worth, in addition to providing an intensely pleasurable experience.

The following lists are an excerpt from Glasser’s book, Positive Addiction, in which runners share their personal feelings about this amazing individual sport. May these comments motivate you to consider giving running a try!

Here are some runners’ comments about the benefits of running for life as a whole:

  • I don’t have to worry about eating too much.
  • Lowered pulse rate and blood pressure.
  • There is something about most runners that makes them feel a little better than other people.
  • The only things I don’t do more of now are watch TV, drink, and waste time in general.
  • Runners think they have a better life because they run.
  • Running gives me all the self-confidence I will ever need.
  • I am frustrated, aggravated, hostile, irritable, and generally unpleasant when I miss a day’s run.
  • I don’t need as much sleep.
  • I am more open with people and my interpersonal habits or skills have improved.
  • I am much less serious, far more easy going, less committed to abolishing all the evils overnight and easier to live with.
  • Everyone should run. It would drown hate, aggression, make people happier, and create a greater sense of self-worth.
  • We were not born to sit around; we were born to be active. If you are positively addicted to what you do, then you will live a long life and enjoy every moment.

And here’s what runners have to say about the act of running and the many benefits they feel during a workout:

  • There is nothing like the feel of your feet against the road, the pleasure of motion produced by your own body.
  • Something takes over, not just you, but a sensation of movement.
  • Worrying and running are impossible to do at the same time.
  • A self-centered state develops in which you feel yourself as a natural organism working very hard.
  • Everything is floating around in your mind while running, including your problems, and at times a solution pops into your mind without effort.
  • After the first mile, my subconscious takes over and my body functions automatically.
  • It all seems so right with eternity, personally, and collectively.
  • Competition is the spice, running the main course.
  • Thoughts become long, slow motion, drawn out.
  • For a while the world completely stops while I am engaging with my run.
  • Heightened awareness of light, temperature, odors, sometimes an inexpressible joy.
  • I feel the so-called happy, warm feeling, or glow.
  • It is as if my mind is floating along beside my body looking at it in a kind of humorous way, watching it struggle to run while it (the mind) is free-floating along, ahead of it, behind it, below it, above it.
  • It is best to run in a peaceful natural place.
  • I float. I run like a deer. I feel good. I feel high. I don’t think at all.
  • Brain chatter is gone.
  • When I am running well, I am happy.
  • Running is getting to know yourself in the extreme degree.

Challenge Yourself

So I’m back now, running that is. I ran 4 miles this week. Just a start. It was wonderful that after not running for a several months, I went out and ran 2 miles fairly easily. It felt great!

Challenge yourself to work towards a goal of running your first 5K race this summer. Choose a cause you believe in start training today by walking for five minutes to warm up and then running for one block, then walk for a few blocks and run for another block, or further if you choose.

Start small and you will be bursting with pride as your body gets stronger and you can run for more minutes at a time. Then in just a few weeks you will be able to run half a mile.  Keep building up your periods of running and gradually do less walking each time you tie up your shoes.



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