I’m not sure this is beating addiction

After drugs and booze, an ultramarathon taught me how to love the mile I’m in
Breaking the cycle of my addictions was tough, but then I found inner strength by pushing myself to complete a 50-mile race

To a certain extent it appears to be a replacement of the addiction.

Physical activity does stimulate endorphin production after all.

32 thoughts on “I’m not sure this is beating addiction”

  1. I’ve never had an endorphin buzz from strenuous exercise. The only buzz I get is the feeling that I’m not suffering that when seeing athletes going through the pain barrier.

  2. Oh gawd! Can’t think of anyone I’d least like to find myself saddled with at a party. A complete, irredeemably, self-obsessed wanker. Do the world a favour & go back to the drugs & booze.

  3. She calls that “running?” I know some ladies drawing pensions who can walk 53 miles faster than that.
    A typical Grauniad “aren’t I wonderful” piece disregarding facts.

  4. @TG

    Same – yet there’s definitely such a thing as “runners’ high”.

    Not sure whether I’m immune to it, or the strain from exertion on my body just produces too much pain that masks it, or I never exercised in the “right” way – perhaps running the wrong pace or distance?

  5. @j77

    Isn’t “run” more about gait than pace? I can walk faster than some people run.

  6. Addition is normally associated with bad things. So replacing a bad thing with a good thing can be classed as beating addiction.

  7. Running a marathon is a good thing?

    Hopefully, addicted readers will see through the false dichotomy.

  8. @ MBE
    True, and I know a few guys who can walk faster than I can run these days, but we tend to talk of “running” and “jogging” normally being distinguishable by pace as well as gait.
    I honestly do not think that I could run that slowly – I think I might be able to jog that slowly when trying to keep down to someone else’s pace but my running gait requires a minimum speed. It is certainly much easier for me to walk at four-and-a-half mph than to jog, let alone run, at that speed.

  9. Dennis the Peasant

    Running a marathon is a good thing?

    It wasn’t for Pheidippides.

    Of course, the runners I’ve known never knew who Pheidippides was. They never seem to know who Narcissus was either.

  10. After much of a lifetime of strenuous exercise – all solely in the pursuit of earning a living (& for which I pay, every morning) – I can see nothing whatsoever virtuous in it. It’s rank stupidity. If you do something to the point where it’s hurting, your body’s sending you a message. You’re damaging it Stop. And I see little benefit from it. The people I know indulge in it complain endlessly about the injuries they sustain in the process. Som end up as virtual cripples. An \’ëndorphin high” is the body’s natural painkiller, sacrificing long term health for the short term gain of getting away from a lion. I don’t notice many lions about these days.
    If you want to be fit, ignore the output side & concentrate on the input. Don’t each so f*****g much.

  11. @BiS

    “concentrate on the input. Don’t each so f*****g much.”


    Your calorie input decides how much you weigh; your exercise levels decide what that weight looks like and how it performs day to day.

    Eat nothing and do no exercise and you will lose weight.

    Eat 6,000 calories a day and burn off 1,000 calories a day in exercise and you’ll put weight on.

  12. @ Dennis the Peasant
    I do some foolish things but I never fight a battle in heavy armour against a massively larger army before running a marathon. Pheidippides probably died as a result of blood loss from his wounds which would have been accelerated due to his higher heartbeat while running back to Athens.

  13. The only effort I’ve ever put into exercise is in avoiding it.

    I’m a big enough c**t. I don’t need to go out onto the street or into some sweat and steroid infested circus freak show to demonstrate this manifest truth (although a few wags will doubtless suggest that I’m enhancing my C status by posting this).

    Sport? Exercise? One of the joys of leaving school (more decades ago than I care to remember) was to finally be free of all that shite.

  14. But I’m confused. I distinctly remember the Guardian telling me that exercise makes you right wing. This Nazi should be deplatformed!!!!

  15. Dennis the Peasant

    John77 –

    That’s speculative at best. What isn’t subject to speculation is that he ended his first and only marathon by falling dead on the ground. Call me silly, but that – at least to me – makes embracing a run of 26.2 miles for good health and fun counter-intuitive, irrespective of attire and number of wounds.

  16. @ Dennis
    Pheidippides had a few days earlier run from Athens to Sparta, a much longer distance, to ask the Spartans for help against the Persian invaders and then run back to report that Sparta wouldn’t help. So it wasn’t the distance that killed him

  17. “Pheidippides had a few days earlier run from Athens to Sparta” – according to Herodotus, this is the run Pheidippides made, and the run from Marathon to Sparta (and subsequent death) is not mentioned. Later authors mentioned a Marathon to Sparta run but identified a different runner, then even later authors conflated this runner with Pheidippides.

  18. I took up doing triathlons at the age of 55 after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I really enjoy doing them and the exercise got me off the pills and means that I can enjoy a reasonably normal diet. I’m now sixty and have the body of a man half my age which is a nice bonus. Triathlon seems to be a good sport for avoiding the above mentioned injuries, presumably due to the mixed training it entails.

    I really get the part about hating having sports inflicted on you at school, my loathing of all kinds of ball games has lasted a lifetime.

  19. As to her reported speed- she claims to be eighth lady out of a field of 192. Not too shabby. I too know a retired lady who could do it, and does often enough, but she’s the exception not the rule. Don’t forget the 7500 ft. of ascent which effectively adds 13 miles to the flat distance, plus it’s on the country, not the road and nothing like track.
    However I can’t find her name in the results. Eighth lady came in in 10.32, ninth in 10.57, tenth in 11.00: so even if she was running under an alias it doesn’t fit.
    As to why to do it? To start with to prove yourself to yourself. Like any other challenge. Then maybe because you like the scenery and the atmosphere. And finally to meet up with friends with a similar interest.
    As to those put off exercise at school, that was me once. My school wasn’t interested in those who didn’t win prizes, so I basically said “same to you”. Only when I turned 40 did I discover I enjoyed running, and also that most running clubs appreciate anyone who tries and pitches in.

  20. Bloke in Lower Hutt

    I run ultra marathons a fair bit and I’m pretty good at them. In my experience there are 2 types of people that do them, 1 group consists of people like me that are relatively fast over long distances but not quick enough to be competitive at marathon distance so race ultras to be in with a shout of winning.

    The second group are the sort of people who are willing to put up with hours of abject misery so they can tell everyone on Facebook they are special because they can run a really long way. The athletic equivalent of people who sit in a bath of baked beans for 24 hours for Comic Relief.

    The size of the second group hugely outweighs the first.


    I don’t know anyone who trains for ultramarathons just to stay fit and if I did I’d tell them to try something else, there are so many easier ways to do that (I eat 3500+ calories a day, run about 75+ miles a week and have no social life)

    7,500ft is relatively flat for an ultramarathon of 50 mile distance – the Ultra Trail Snowdonia has 17,000ft+ of elevation change although admittedly is at the other end of the spectrum. I expect most have over 10,000ft.

    Having said that 11 hours is not too shabby for a first effort.

  21. Crazy stuff, I worked my way up to a half marathon over 18 months and that was tough enough.
    There’s swim-run events where they swim between islands, run across the island then swim to next island, 65km running and 10km open water swimming covering 24 islands on the Stockholm archipelago. You have to wonder how drunk people were in the pub to come up with the idea in the first place.
    I’ve seen versions of that where they swim-run using a series of lakes as well which seems slightly less crazy

  22. I sneeze in threes

    What a great article and with a twist in the tale at the end….. it’s a woman! Looking at the photo I wasn’t expecting that.

  23. I sneeze in threes

    I remember reading about a run to Dover, swim the Chanel then cycle to Gibraltar, finishing with a swim over the Straights to Africa. It may have been all bollocks of course.

  24. Pat
    “However I can’t find her name in the results. Eighth lady came in in 10.32”

    Yes Georgie did it, and i’d say that’s pretty good. Only disappointing that the G missed the irony. Race to the tower is sponsored by Heineken.

  25. Bloody hell. I felt old enough as it was, before reading superannuated annals of stretchy, crunchy limbedness.

    Stringy, sandal-wearing bastards. Get on the outside of a chicken Kiev and a bacon sammich, and do the World a favour. Add a side order of whisky.

    Crunchy old bastards.

  26. “You have to wonder how drunk people were in the pub to come up with the idea in the first place.”

    The idea for the Ironman triathlon was conceived over a bar room argument over whether swimmers, cyclists or marathon runners were the toughest endurance athletes. I’ve done one tri at this distance and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge but, as mentioned above, if you work full time, you have to sign away six months of your life to doing little else but training for it. I might do it again after I retire.

  27. @ Pat
    I once ran 10,000 metres on a track and decided “never again” – far far worse than 10km road or even cross-country. Secondly, I mentioned ladies drawing pensions who *walk* faster#; thirdly 7500 feet does not add 13 miles: the second time I walked up Ben Nevis I reached the top too early to have lunch from the pack I was carrying which also included my changes of clothes for a week.
    However I defer to Bloke in Lower Hutt who knows more about ultras than I and will accept that it’s not a shabby effort if he says so
    # I looked up Sandra Brown’s time for London to Brighton, 53 miles over the Weald and South Downs – 9 hours 4 minutes, and four other ladies (only one of whom was young) walked it in under 11 hours (the pretty youngster did 11h 06). Sandra Brown is exceptional, but I know a couple of the others and they are nice lasses who have stayed nice lasses into their 60s

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