I’m an alcoholic and drug addict.
I usually don’t tell people I meet because it seems that most people have negative stereotypes of alcoholics. I think that mostly stems from people’s misunderstanding of what alcoholism really is. I have also abused prescription drugs. So I find it highly disturbing that medical doctors prescribe drugs like Percocet and Vicodin without asking any questions of the patient.
Anyway, in the words of Robin Williams (an alcoholic) in the movie Aladdin, “Enough about you, Casanova. Talk about her. She’s smart, fun. The hair, the eyes. Anything. Pick a feature.” She’s punctual.
Why post about substance dependence on a running blog? Because the two are highly related, and I was reminded of that in a recent blog post by Phil Torcivia where he describes other places besides the bar “that (insensible) people suggest as preferable places to meet a mate”. Still not relevant until you read the article and find that one is marathons. Had I known, I would have been getting my groove on during the Tucson Marathon yesterday. At mile 24 I was tempted to stop and break out the iPod (no I don’t actually own one), select some disco, crank up the volume, and start dancing. No. I was delirious, but not not delirious.
Actually, there’s something very primal about running while chasing down a prey. It usually ends with something dead and being eaten though, which is probably why they feed us at the end of marathons. Just think if they had big juicy steaks at the finish instead of nasty PB&J roll-ups, bananas, and bagals. Everyone would be setting PRs every race. Off topic. (Also, I don’t know the last time I ate beef, but it was a long time ago.)
The real similarity between alcoholism and running is that both are highly compulsive. The difference is the end result of the activities: one is seen as negative while the other is seen as positive, or at least non-negative. The English language actually has a word to describe positive compulsiveness: perfectionism. I’ve been told that in grade school I was described by teachers as a perfectionist. I wasn’t even in high school yet and was exhibiting the signs of addiction. Well, later in life I was a perfectionist drinker too. Running generally isn’t seen as a positive influence on society, but neither is it seen as a negative influence. It’s neutral. People think runners are just weird; why else would someone get up at 3AM to run 26.2 miles starting when the temperature is 30 degrees Fahrenheit. But we’re not hurting anyone else, so they ignore us. Other marathoners understand. Just like alcoholics understand one another.
Whatever is causing someone to be compulsive is the same whether they are described as perfectionists, workaholics, or alcoholics. In fact, one of the reasons that I think I’ve stayed sober for so long is that I have simply replaced one compulsion with a different one. Some alcoholics go to meetings; I run. So it was with distress that searching the Internet, I came across this story of an alcoholic who stopped drinking and subsequently ran a sub-3 hour marathon. On his first attempt.
My first marathon was finished in 3:50 after 18 weeks of training. My second marathon was completed in 3:31 after someone 10 weeks ago when a random person in a coffee shop asked if I was running the Tucson Marathon. At the time I was not planning on it and had not been training for about four months. I’m not sure what my third, fourth, fifth, or sixth marathon times will be, but I know that by the end of next year I will have run a marathon in under 3 hours. How do I know that?
I’m an addict.