11. This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life — Annie Grace
week eleven — 41.6
To date: 374 KM
Normally I would have woken up this morning hung over. Not because yesterday was Saint Patrick’s Day. Not even because yesterday was Saturday. Normally I would have woken up this morning hung over for no other reason than because I drank the night before. But this isn’t about why I used to drink. This is about that I don’t drink anymore. Sometime last summer Robin AKA thetattooedteetotaler posted the cover of This Naked Mind to her Instagram. I put a copy onto my iPad and promptly forgot about it. And then a few months later I woke up, hung over, and decided that I don’t want to anymore. So I read This Naked Mind and I quit drinking. I don’t know if I could have done it without the book. I’ve “quit” in the past: I got most of the way through “sober February” 2017, but not as far through as 2016; I got a late start to “sober January” 2015, but managed to stretch it a bit into February. Each time I desobered with the intention of moderation, which would last a week or two. My last drink was on January 1, 2018. I’m not sure I wanted to quit entirely. I’m still not sure. I do know that I quit cold-turkey (not recommended given the amount I drank and for how long I’d drank) and had no side effects, and I have zero desire to have a drink. Zip. Nadda. Well, not no side effects. I used to be pretty easily irritated; these past weeks I have given few fucks about anything other than my relationships and my running. I used to have G.I. issues that I chalked up to diet and genetics; they’re mostly gone. I used to spend 10 hours in bed each night and was always tired. Now I get six or seven of restful sleep and feel fine. I could write a lot about this book, its affect on me, my journey, get all preachy, start using crap terms like “journey”…. I’d rather not. There’s one point in the book that stands out that’s worth putting here, one that I used to wrestle with a lot: Does the idea of never drinking again bother you? That question is like an onion. I used to believe drinking made me feel better. Now I understand that my drinking made me feel awful when I wasn’t drinking. There’s a significant difference there. Maybe I’ll drink again but I currently have no desire to. At all.
On the early evening of Saturday, May 6, 2017 I poured myself a stiff gin + tonic to keep me company while I made dinner. Then I opened a bottle of red wine to go with dinner (for the antioxidants obviously). The bottle finished I went to bed but couldn’t sleep. After tossing and turning for an hour or two I got up and poured a few fingers (fist?) of Johnny Walker Black, which I took to bed with a book. I finished (the blend, not the book) and finally fell asleep. A few hours later, I was at Queen Elizabeth Park. Three hours and 34 minutes later I was on West Pender just east of Bute crossing the finish line of my first marathon. I wanted to run 3:29. Maybe if I hadn’t had a dozen drinks the night before, and the night before that, and before that…I would have. I don’t know. But I’m going to find out. My body is finally getting healthy, although it’s not coming along quite as quickly as I had wanted. I was looking forward to a sober second look at the BMO Marathon, but this week I took stock of time and training, and decided to downgrade to the half. And I’m fine with that. I have two big PR goals for 2018, and clear eyes set on those.
9 thoughts on “2018 week eleven”
I’m incredibly impressed with your candor Todd. One word… Respect.
I think its time I re-evaluate my health. I made that my target this year rather than a resolution but have done nothing to further it. Not in terms of drinking. But exercising. My body has been ravaged with injuries and I can create an excuse not to exercise quicker than you can bolt off a starting block. My mom,who’s also suffered a number of injuries in the past, told me it was my only solution.
I just don’t know how…
Thanks Joyce. I wish that I could help with your exercise resolution but I’m not sure how. I started running for mental health, and fell in love with it. I don’t think of it as exercise. The idea of going to the gym or to the pool nauseates me. I think that my only advice is to find something that’s good for you that you will look forward to doing, or create a routine. Go for a walk after dinner. Walk part way to or from the office. Find a way to create incentive, and reward yourself.
Drinking made you feel awful when you weren’t drinking – that really gets to the heart of it. It’s not needing the drink (or smoke or toke or snort or online purchase or whatever) so much as it is not wanting to feel THIS way. Fortunately we can find better ways to not feel THAT way. I’m happy you are finding a good place.
Interesting story! Just out of curiosity, how much did your running improve once you quit drinking for a long period of time?
I have thought about this but I don’t really know. I was still relatively new to running and I am still improving a couple years later. I believe I have improved more as a result of quitting drinking but I have no way of knowing for certain. My preferred race is the half marathon. My last half marathon drinking was Copenhagen in September 2017 where I finished 1:38:40. My first half marathon sober was the Vancouver First Half in February 2018, but it’s a bit of an anomaly; I was injured going in and probably shouldn’t have raced, and I exasperated my injury during and probably shouldn’t have finished. Finish time was 1:43:04. My first half marathon sober and healthy was the BMO Vancouver in May 2018, where I finished 1:34:52, which was a huge leap in my mind at the time and I do give some credit to sobriety. A month later I went 2:30 quicker. I think I would have improved regardless, but I believe that sobriety allowed for more dramatic improvement. But my drinking didn’t really bother my running, per se. It could be that I improved because I was just a lot happier person not drinking anymore. Who knows. Thanks for your question, though, David. I hope I sort of answered it.
Thanks for the response! I only ask because I too am a runner, and have been grappling with the idea of quitting drinking for a long time – (never seems to last very long!). I run a 1:35 half, 19:30 5km and around 40 minutes for the 10km but would like to cut a couple minutes off of that. I find that often weekends become unproductive (hungover) and that doesn’t help training. Also beer packs the weight on! I’m running BMO full this spring so I’m trying to cut down, but you know how it is… Glad to hear that cutting it out helped your mindset and happiness which would have certainly had a positive affect on your running. Thanks again for answering. Cheers.
Couple things to unpack. If drinking is negatively affecting your training, then, well, I think you know what I’m going to tell you. You have a pretty huge thing that’s only eight weeks away. You might find prioritizing that goal helps with your other one. You might find that the book that helped me out helps you too.
Hey Todd – loud and clear! Training is coming along well. I’ll check out the book and keep you posted (we’re strava friends)