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How running 'helped me to reach my clean Sundays'

By Siobhann Dunn
BBC Scotland

image copyrightGetty Images

"On a Sunday, instead of lying on a couch rattling, I am getting up and preparing to be the best I can at something," says Ronnie Hart.

Ronnie, from Glasgow, is a former addict who has used running as a tool to help him towards recovery. Similarly, Iain Murphy has found inspiration through running to help him in his battle with alcohol.

Both men feel the challenge and peace of mind they have gained from exercise has helped them turn their lives around.

The drug-user

image copyrightRonnie Hart
image captionRonnie started abusing substances when he was 11 years old - but he is now clean and, thanks to running, healthy

Ronnie is a recovering drug addict who runs regularly because it makes him feel "alive".

At three weeks clean he started running while attending a Glasgow rehab centre and from struggling to run one mile within six months he was running 13.

"I ran the Great Scottish Run half marathon and my time was 1:46:50," he says.

"I was buzzing, a natural high, I did not know you could feel like that without drugs."

The natural high of running was different to the one he had been seeking since he was 11 years old.

After coming through a traumatic childhood Ronnie started "buzzing" solvent solutions from under the kitchen sink "like nail varnish and lighter fuel".

In adulthood this developed into a habit of illicit drug abuse and a vicious cycle of "playing a game of cat and mouse" with the drugs squad.

Ronnie says that "drugs stripped him of everything".

"They took my self-esteem, my confidence," he says.

'Running thoughts'

But after discovering he was good at running things changed for the better.

"It felt good, I was achieving something which I had never really done before," he adds.

Ronnie's experience has been one of going from where he used drugs to "block out" thoughts to one where running helps him see things in an "easier way".

"When I am running it gives me the time to think, process information and come up with answers and solutions to whatever is on my mind at the time," he says.

But he doesn't see himself as having replaced a drug addiction with a running addiction. "I don't think I have," he insists.

"You see drugs stripped me of everything and running has given me it all back."

Running from alcohol

For Iain, a Sunday would typically consist of "waking up with the fear of God, trying to piece together what I had done the night before".

Filled with fear and anxiety, Iain drank to "escape" what was going on in his head and once he started he found it hard to stop.

media captionHow running helped me beat my drug addiction

"In the latter part of my drinking it wasn't working any more and everything that was going on in my head was amplified and it really wasn't a good place I was in," he says.

Iain says he had reached the stage where he was tired of "drama" and alcohol-induced blackouts.

The father-of-one wanted to stop drinking and needed a focus, so he pulled on his trainers and went for a run.

"It wasn't long before I was hooked," he says.

'Physical change'

He challenged himself to run the Stirling marathon in memory of his late aunt, who had terminal cancer.

"My auntie Colette, who I was very close to, lost her long battle with cancer and I decided to run a marathon to raise money for the hospice who helped her through it," he explains.

He found a marathon training plan online and followed it for four months.

"Over the weeks, I saw not only a change in my mood but a physical change in my body and I was becoming fitter and fitter," he said.

image copyrightIain Murphy
image captionIain's said his biggest achievement to date was managing to run his first marathon in the Stirling in 3hrs 28mins

"I completed the 16-week programme and successfully completed my first ever marathon, which was a massive achievement for myself in so many levels.

"My running really took off after that."

'Good feeling'

Similar to Ronnie's feelings of self-worth, Iain is certain of the value that running has added to his life.

"Running and keeping fit is a massive part of my life now, not only to stay physically fit, but I find if I don't keep on top of running I don't feel as good mentally, which is vital for me," he says.

"There's very few times where I've pulled on my trainers and haven't enjoyed it."

Iain feels that part of what he was seeking from alcohol dependency is what running has now finally given him.

"The feeling I get from consistent running has gradually begun bringing me self-worth, self-esteem and dare I say it happiness," he adds.

Related Topics

  • Alcoholism
  • Running
  • Glasgow