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Why Running is the Ultimate Addiction Recovery Tool

Turns out, doing things you’re not always good at is a good thing

Lonna Whiting
7 min readOct 6, 2021

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Nine a.m. and it’s 80 degrees with an unseasonably warm and aggressive 15 mile-per-hour southerly wind.

I’m lacing up my Brooks Levitate 5s and yanking up my high-waisted Lulu pants, setting my Garmin watch to “Run.”

The GPS catches a signal, so I tap “Start” and slowly begin my daily run.

I have all the gear. The shoes. The watch. The expensive leggings and technical shirt.

What I also have: zero talent at running.

In fact, I mostly don’t like it, except I picked it up when the gyms closed down during COVID and I needed something to get the wiggles out. Something to accompany my third consecutive year in successful remission from alcohol use disorder.

I’ve hardly improved at running in that time, either. Most runners tend to increase their speed, lose weight, go farther more easily over time. Not me. Every single jog is a slog and an exercise in self-deprecating self-esteem.

We addicts like to say, “Take the sobriety tools that work for you and add them to your toolbox. Leave what you don’t need.” What do I see in running that has me keeping it in my toolbox, rather than setting it aside for something I find inherently easier?

I’m not good at running, and that is what makes it the ultimate recovery tool.

At best, I’m a 10:15-minute mile 10K-er — average. At worst, I’m a 13-minute miler derping her way across a river trail, sweating so much it’s almost concerning — and most certainly unsightly.

No matter how well or how poorly my running goes on any given day, I always find myself thinking the same thing:

Running shouldn’t be this hard. Why is it so hard? It’s just one foot in front of the other, over and over again.

One foot in front of the other until you hit a speed that feels right. A speed that allows you to create distance between the place you started and the place you want to stop. Everything…

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Lonna Whiting

Writer, Alzheimer’s Slayer and promoter of alcohol-free living