We drink, smoke, and eat too much because it’s easier than disciplining ourselves to say no. ~ William Glasser
I’ve had a love affair with running for most of my adult life. Once I started, the flow and good feelings kept me coming back.
I first started running in my 20’s when I was working for Levi Strauss, (remember 501’s), and we would run down the Embarcadero during our lunch hour. What I loved about running, was the simplicity. Grab some workout clothes, a good pair of running shoes and you are off. For me, music helps me run a few more steps, so I bring along my iPod shuffle
I haven’t run in that many races throughout the years, usually running has been a way to exercise and stay fit. It does makes you feel like you’ve really done something.
I have run the Bay to Breakers several times, the Wharf to Wharf in Santa Cruz, which is a fun race. Several days after my dad died, I ran in a race through Newport Beach in his honor. I’ve done the Primo’s Run for Education in Danville. Last May I ran the Orange County Half Marathon. Running by the water in Newport Beach and ending up in Costa Mesa, was an absolutely beautiful run.
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’ve taken some time off running recently, and I miss it.
For those of us in recovery, whether it be drugs, alcohol or being addicted to the addict, a replacement for the addiction is needed. So much time and energy has been put into the addiction, that it is essential that the void be filled. Former addicts often mention that they are now runners, and it has helped change their life.
I recently read “Positive Addiction,” by William Glasser, This is not a new book. It was written in 1976. Although some of the ideas about addiction have changed, the essential idea from this book, that a negative addiction needs to be replace by a positive addiction for long term recovery is an idea that is still very relevant.
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.
- When I am running well, I am happy.
- Running is getting to know yourself in the extreme degree.
- 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.
- When I miss my workouts, I feel as though I have let myself down.
- I don’t have to worry about eating too much.
- Lowered pulse rate and blood pressure.
- After the first mile, my subconscious takes over and my body functions automatically.
- 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.
- 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.
- I feel a fat, lazy, generally slothful, and grouchy feeling when I don’t run.
- For awhile the world completely stops while I am engaging with my run.
- I am frustrated, aggravated, hostile, irritable, and generally unpleasant when I miss a day’s run.
- Heightened awareness of light, temperature, odors, sometimes an inexpressible joy.
- I don’t need as much sleep.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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 that any other practice.” – William Glasser
From “Positive Addiction” runners share their feelings about this amazing sport.
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.
So I’m back now, running that is. I ran 4 miles this week. Just a start, but I was amazed that after not running for a number of months, I went out and ran 2 miles fairly easily. I guess, once a runner, always a runner.
Think about running.
Are you a runner, or would you like to be one? How has running helped you in your recovery? Please share in the comments below.
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