The Run: Absolution and Redemption on Foot

Uncategorized
| Summer
2023 |
Volume 2,
Issue 2

The Run: Absolution and Redemption on Foot

Once a form of daily penance, post-sobriety running is now an expresssion of self-understanding and personal determination in all the best ways. Writer Jake Barron takes us along on the process of self discovery in motion.

You burn off a lot of “fat”—both literally and figuratively—after you stop drinking. Off with the love handles, for many of us, sure, but off with a lot of other things too, inside and out. It’s a time of letting go, reassessing, and rebuilding in all aspects. As you take stock of what your life looks like without alcohol you instinctively start to separate the people, places, and things you’re going to keep from those to whom you’re going to say goodbye.

Pre-sobriety, running was my absolution; and the more there was to absolve myself of, the longer I ran. Many a night when I was drinking I wasted money, shaved years off my life, embarrassed myself and others, or did something objectively dangerous. And over and over again I told myself it was okay because I ran that day, or I was going to run tomorrow. My rationale was if I was running I must be doing things right. Running gave me amnesty. It allowed me to keep going, for better or for worse. Looking back, I liken it to putting a band-aid over a bullet wound. It let me go on just enough—feel mentally and physically just ok enough— that I didn’t have to change what I was doing. Holding onto this one “good” habit allowed (or, dare I say, encouraged) me to embrace denial as a virtue. 

Today, thankfully, I have much less need for absolution. But of the things I assessed to determine whether they should stay in my life, running was one I decided was well worth keeping.

Running still makes me feel physically and mentally better—today from a much healthier baseline—and serves me in moving forward with things that are much more positive than just holding onto bad habits. In its new form and purpose running has become a north star around which my new life orbits. 

The run: 

Four miles is my favorite distance. Four is long enough to be a challenge and long enough to open your mind. Three is fine, two will do in a pinch, and five is for when you’re training for something. Four is perfect. Today I will run four. 

I don’t set an alarm. I have kids so I wake up at the right time with no problem. I prefer running when it’s either freezing cold or molten hot—85 degrees and sweltering. I prefer running at 7AM in the goddamn morning, thank you very much. I put on whatever clean running gear and socks I can dig out of my drawer. I find my shoes—always the same brand, always the same model, and always the loudest, ugliest possible combination of colors available. I say goodbye to my kids and tell them to listen to Mommy while I’m gone. 

I put in my headphones, trot down the steps, breathe in a damp blanket of air, hit play, and begin. 

 

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