Alcohol can be a big part of running-culture, with pub runs, beer runs, and post-race alcoholic beverages available, it may seem that all runners are drinking, but this is not the case. This week’s post features the stories of three steeplechasers, Myra Derbyshire, Paul Lively, and Coach Rob Prokop, who are embracing sobriety.
Myra’s Sobriety Story
- Age: 31
- Number of years (or months) Sober: 8 years
- When did you start running? Did you become sober before or after you started running? I was always an athlete in my childhood and into college, Lacrosse being my main sport which involves a lot of running and strength training. I tore my ACL my senior year of college, and had reconstructive surgery that same year. After that, I really started to lose myself and my identity and I struggled to get back on my feet. I spent my first year of sobriety really focusing on just staying sober and keeping to the basics. It wasn’t until my 3rd year of sobriety that I started to focus on my physical health and began my running journey.
- Have you noticed any positive impacts sobriety has had on your running? Yes! It is difficult to put into words truly how running helps with my sobriety because it is very complex to me. Running provides me with a sense of accomplishment, and gratitude for my life. Every single mile is a mile that I am grateful for, because there was a time when I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. My addiction led me down a very dark path, and every single mile, and day of my sobriety, is a gift. Joining the FSRC was one of the best decisions I made for myself, as it gives me a sense of community and an undeniably amazing support network!
- Do you have a specific way you like to “celebrate” after long runs/races that does not involve alcohol? I have run several half marathons, and 2 marathons and never had a drink afterwards! It doesn’t bother me as much anymore being around people drinking, I’ve done a lot of work on myself (still a work in progress) and I’ve come to accept that it just isn’t something I do! There is a lot of freedom in that. My favorite way to celebrate after a run… food and ice cream!
- What do you wish more people understood about sobriety? Sobriety is a very personal choice, and it doesn’t matter how much or how little you drank, what kind or how long you drank, none of that matters. All that matters is how you feel inside. Also ask for help! I would have never been able to get through these past 8 years alone without my support network carrying me through.
- Anything else you wish to share/have included? As hard as it was to make the decision to get sober at 23 years old, it was by far the most beautiful decision I’ve ever made for myself. Living in sobriety is the best when I am able to find the balance between my mental, psychical, and emotional health. So I’m going to keep running those miles, keep practicing self care, and keep my gratitude for this beautiful life! Thank you, FSRC!!
Rob’s Sobriety Story
Name: Rob Prokop
Number of years Sober: 1 year, 2 months sober.
When did you start running? 2001
Did you become sober before or after you started running? I became sober 22 years after beginning running.
Have you noticed any positive impacts sobriety has had on your running? I ditched alcohol and soda the same day. I have dropped a lot of weight and that allowed me to run longer distances much easier. This allowed me to burn stress in a healthy manner instead of choices I used to make (alcohol and excess emotional eating.)
Do you have a specific way you like to “celebrate” after long runs/races that does not involve alcohol? I like to spend time with my family having a special dinner the night after a race.What do you wish more people understood about sobriety? Sobriety and removing sodas from my consumption was HARD AS HELL at first. As headaches subsided and I replaced those things with healthier choices, I began to feel freedom and a sense of accomplishment that spilled over into many aspects of my life.
Anything else you wish to share/have included? Always know that I’m here to help you and to support you with any aspect of sobriety and wellness. Sobriety can be tough at first, and if you ever need a non-judgemental friend, I’m here for ya!
I get it completely.
Paul’s Sobriety Story
Name: Paul Lively
Number of years Sober: 15
When did you start running? 2013
Did you become sober before or after you started running? I was 5 years sober when I got into running.
Have you noticed any positive impacts sobriety has had on your running? So I’m an addict of all sorts, if it makes me feel better I want more of it. That is why I drank, one was never enough. I needed 30. With Running I get that same feeling, however it has no real negative effects on my life,it actually is a positive part of my life.
Do you have a specific way you like to “celebrate” after long runs/races that does not involve alcohol? Let’s be honest, running burns a ton of calories and who doesn’t love food. Hell, part of the reason I run so much is so I can eat. You can’t run away from a diet but you definitely can cheat. So race day or after long runs I treat myself. I love a huge breakfast burrito with as much delicious stuff as you can fit in it. I also love pies, that’s my celebration food.
What do you wish more people understood about sobriety? Sobriety can be very difficult at the beginning. A sober Birthday? A sober holiday? A sober vacation? Etc…. It really is one day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time. But with everything, time passes and things get easier to handle sober.
Anything else you wish to share/have included? If you ever think you, a family member, a friend has a problem feel free to reach out to me privately, I promise I won’t judge or ever tell anyone anything. You are not alone, there are a ton of us who know exactly what you’re going through as we’ve gone through it before.