While I was at my luxury drug treatment center in Florida, I met Joe. Before he got caught in the web of addiction, he was a long distance runner and used to compete in marathons internationally. The more and more I got to know Joe, the more intrigued I became by the idea of finishing a marathon. I must admit, as first thought, 26.2 miles is entirely intimidating. And, it was hard to tell if he was just romanticizing the past, as many addicts do, and making the training sound more alluring than it really is.
One day I did more than just listen. I decided that it was time I voiced my opinion on his “stories” and stopped enabling his woe-is-me-I-miss-the-past” type of mentality. I asked him, “Why don’t you run anymore?” He never had a more complex answer than the explanation that drugs and alcohol made him fall so out of shape to ever run a marathon. To which I asked, “So why can’t you just start small? Why can’t you just start running for fun again, for yourself, without a finish line?” He pondered. He didn’t have an answer for that one.
So, after that, we made good use of the exercise facility that we had access to as patients of the luxury drug treatment center. It felt good to use muscles that I hadn’t used in years. I could feel the natural acceleration of my heart beat, the natural rush of endorphins pulsating throughout my body. It was exhilarating! I can only think to compare it to breathing that first breath of air after being submerged in water for a long time. After a few weeks of daily exercise, I knew Joe and I had found the key to our recovery. Being each others’ personal trainer/coach/motivator made the next few months of luxury drug treatment fly by. When it was time to leave, we made a promise to each other to reunite at the starting line of some local races.
I guess you could say that I found my new “high.” Running, whether it be in the sun, rain, snow or sleet, was better than any drugs or any drinks. And, finally, I was healthy. Training for a marathon has made me feel unstoppable. Working these twelve steps has never seemed so easy. Running keeps me on track mentally, physically and spirituality. These days, whoever I come across in my recovery, I recommend that they work the silent, invisible thirteenth step: training for a marathon.