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Link between recovering addicts and endurance sports?

Old 09-17-2016, 04:19 AM
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Link between recovering addicts and endurance sports?

I follow endurance sports: ultra running, ultra cycling, etc. As I read about the back stories to many of the athletes that participate in these activities I find many struggled with addiction and/or mental health problems in their past. Endurance sports almost became their new addiction is a way.

Why is that? Discuss.
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Old 09-17-2016, 04:34 AM
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I don't know but, as always, I am happy to offer my silly-ass opinion. They have traded one thing on which they focused all of their energies for another thing that focuses all of their energies? Seems an oversimplification of some complex human behavior, but that's all I got this early in the a.m. (7:30 est). Peace.
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Old 09-17-2016, 04:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Maudcat View Post
They have traded one thing on which they focused all of their energies for another thing that focuses all of their energies?
That would be one logical answer.
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Old 09-17-2016, 07:50 PM
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As I get further along in recovery, running/biking/hiking have become very important to me. My day today was based around finding a new rail trail getting packed up and out there and biking 20 miles, taking in the scenery. I felt in the moment and relaxed and physically, great! The same things I was chasing after with drinking.
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Old 09-21-2016, 12:06 PM
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I am upping my game on the bike. Wanna start doing some longer weekend rides on top of my daily commute.
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Old 09-27-2016, 05:06 PM
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I follow quite a few channels on youtube of people recovering from drug/alcohol addiction/eating disorders, etc and have found most all have found solid recovery in fitness. I think that natural "high" you get from exercise is a healthy replacement from the substance abuse feel-good many were using before. (it's helped me quite a bit)
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Old 09-27-2016, 05:15 PM
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I agreed with both. Trading addictions for one that release endorfines 👍
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Old 10-04-2016, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Soberandhealthy View Post
I agreed with both. Trading addictions for one that release endorfines 👍
The more I experiment with it, the more I think you are right. I also can't help but wonder if addiction isn't always paired with a mental health issue. Physical activity helps with both!
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Old 10-04-2016, 02:04 PM
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I think recovery is a mind, body, spirit, community thing. Its hollistic. So a solid exercise program simply supports recovery. It makes us feel good (hormones, and doing the 'right' thing), makes us look good (healthy weight and muscle tone), its something to do (keeps us from being bored/ie craving) and it can be social (community) and spiritual (nature). I do hot yoga, run and hike. Oh and walk the dogs. I don't think I'm extreme but I do love my brain on yoga!

My nut case brother is an addict. He is currently cycling from the Bay Area to Seattle. His poor wife has to follow in the car. That's extreme.
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Old 10-04-2016, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Frickaflip233 View Post

He is currently cycling from the Bay Area to Seattle. His poor wife has to follow in the car. That's extreme.
Google RAAM or Trans AM bike racing. Both are west coast to east coast races. That's extreme!!

(I have DVD's on both races!!)
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Old 10-04-2016, 04:50 PM
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I absolutely feel like there is a correlation once you get into Ultramarathons and Ironmans. In the 2 Ultras I have taken part in I probably met 50 people in some form of recovery. I read an article that upwards of 50% of Ultra Marathoners have been in some form of recovery. Whereas I also believe that recovery requires a holistic approach, running with my friends in recovery has become my new social life. I get together with friends from meetings and run 6-10 miles a day and then plan out all the races that we will run and travel for. Also I go out to eat with these people and am closer with them than most of my friends. I know other people at meetings see how tight we are and how serious we take recovery and soon enough we have more runners added to the running group. And of course the triathletes hang with us runners too. I wish I could remember the name of the article I read, I used it for my Public Speaking course in college, it was really good.
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Old 10-04-2016, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by sean0621 View Post
I read an article that upwards of 50% of Ultra Marathoners have been in some form of recovery.
Very good post. I am somewhat obsessed with ultra anything: running, cycling, free solo rock climbing, whatever. Love to read about it, love to watch doc's about it. Someday want to do it!!

Now, why would one suppose that a 26.2 isn't enough? Why 50k or 50 miles or 100 miles?? For "normal" runners a full marathon is the holy grail.
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Old 10-12-2016, 04:45 PM
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I moderated my alcoholism for decades with endurance sports. The endorphins really helped my mood, and sleep, thus reducing my alcohol consumption. It worked pretty well until I began to wear out all my joints, lol.
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Old 10-12-2016, 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by steve-in-kville View Post
The more I experiment with it, the more I think you are right. I also can't help but wonder if addiction isn't always paired with a mental health issue. Physical activity helps with both!
This. I have anxiety and never once did I drink to numb it, and even if I had it wouldn't have matter. drinking didn't work for that. It always frustrated me to have people shove both in the same box. You can be anxious and also be an unhealthy idiot separately.
(And so there's no confusion, that's a direct shot at myself, lol)

I think the endorphins theory is correct, as well as this: it's not just about having something else to focus on, but it's controlled focus. Recovering addicts may have a hefty job with a lot of work that doesn't leave them feeling fulfilled or satisfied. It's forced. But a physical hobby, a hobby which releases content chemicals into your system that you can control your focus on...bingo. You could drink whenever you wanted at the intensity you wanted. Can't have those freedoms with work, but you can have it while training for a triathlon or climbing a mountain or running ten miles. Two miles today, ten miles tomorrow, fifteen next week if you want. A mile for every drink you might have had that day. Etc, etc. hope that made sense
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Old 12-14-2016, 04:02 PM
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Its been two months.... kinda forgot about this thread.

The more I research and ponder this subject, the more I am convinced that endurance athletes aren't right in the head... and they are all perfectly okay with that. They're not normal, but neither were they as addicts.
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Old 12-15-2016, 03:49 PM
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As they say any idiot can run a marathon, but it takes a special kind of idiot to run an ultra marathon.
I didn't intend on running much more than a half marathon and a tough mudder. But the trail running community has been one of the most positive things that has come into my life since getting sober in 2 and a half years ago.

Hardcore runners are ready to run any time they can any day. I love it. Now when I need to get out, its no longer hey wanna grab a couple drinks (haha) in an hour, its hey want to go run wildwood or oak openings with me in an hour. All the conversations I had and plans I made with "friends" at the bar never amounted to anything. Now I run with sober people and have conversations and make plans that come to fruition.

It's hard to find that kind of activity, outside of drinking and drugging that gets people together for a common cause. Instead of getting all messed up I am setting my mind free on the trails for miles of therapy. If your body can handle it I totally encourage people in recovery to try endurance sports. And you don't need to run 50 miles with me, just come out and run 1 if that is all you've got, I'll run it with ya. We do this together.
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Old 12-20-2016, 05:37 AM
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Originally Posted by sean0621 View Post
As they say any idiot can run a marathon, but it takes a special kind of idiot to run an ultra marathon.
Love it!
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Old 12-20-2016, 07:34 AM
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Interesting thread. One question that comes to mind is: Are they running FROM something, TOWARD something, or just running?

By this I mean, the mind of an addict is often somewhat obsessive and/or compulsive. My wife is a perfect example. When she gets interested in something she can't do it half way. Like her drinking, it's all or nothing. Endurance sports can be the same way, but so can art or other hobbies or meditation or facebook or SR... So, the endorphin rush can explain part of it, but not always.

So, those who are just running are in the moment and doing it because they love it. It's their passion.

Those who are running TOWARD something are maybe wanting to be healthier and maybe make up for beating up on themselves in the past. At least, that might be how it starts. Of course, there is plenty of evidence that some endurance sports take their toll on the body, though in different ways than substance abuse.

It's those who are running FROM something that concern me most. Diving into replacement addictions can serve to avoid having to face the underlying issues that led to addiction in the first place. I have read that 80-90% of people who meet criteria for substance use disorder have at least one co-occurring mental health disorder, the most common being anxiety, depression, PTSD, and borderline personality. No offense to you runners out there, but Forest Gump comes to mind. He wasn't running for no reason.

So, whatever the replacement "addiction," I think it's important to slow down at times and cultivate awareness of what's really going on. In early recovery I was on SR a lot. Now I visit once or twice a day for a short time, and sometimes go for days without. I also meditate most days for maybe half an hour, but I'm not running away to a monastery or neglecting my responsibilities as a husband or employee.

It's about balance. I don't understand endurance sports fanatics, much like I don't understand extreme mountaineering. I think there is something to be said for the old concept of the Middle Way. All things in moderation. Then again, the world would lack a lot of great art and inventions if not for those who ignored that advice or were just plain manic.
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Old 12-21-2016, 06:45 AM
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Coincidentally, I was reading from a book by Sakyong Mipham this morning, and he was talking about running a marathon with a painful blister on his foot. First, he questioned whether he should continue running with the blister, and then stated, "I had to be sensible - but how sensible is running 26.2 miles? I decided to run on the blister so it would pop." Well, there you have it - from the mouth of a rinpoche.
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Old 12-30-2016, 03:56 AM
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Originally Posted by zerothehero View Post
Interesting thread. One question that comes to mind is: Are they running FROM something, TOWARD something, or just running?
I think that depends on the person. I have certainly seen people in recovery pick up running and try to make that their replacement addiction. I view it as part of my recovery plan. As I said the social aspect is outstanding, it eliminates the need to isolate.

However I still go to meetings, I am close to an Associates degree and Bachelors degree in Wide Area Networking and Computer Science and I will have all my certifications done in June. I meditate as well and I take care of my daily responsibilities.

Balance is the most important thing in recovery. But don't think that running long distances automatically throws you out of balance. It can for sure. I speak to many athletes who have struggled with this for sure. But for me it is the right thing to do right now.

When I need time for me, I take time, when my body needs rest, I rest, when I want to run, I run and there are always people there to run with me. And the people I run with are the people I go out and watch a movie with or go out to eat or travel/skydive/go fishing with...

But I for sure feel the itch to take things to the extreme, that is how a person winds up running a 100K Ultramarathon or as I did in the marines I benched 450lbs and deadlifted 585lbs.

But I make sure that my number one priority is balance, because ultimately I strive for happiness and healthiness not more void filling. I run more for the social aspect more than any other reason. I can't stress enough the sheer number of positive sober people that have come into my life due to trail running. Some of the best friendships and relationships I've had in my life.
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