10 WAYS RUNNING CAN JUMPSTART YOUR RECOVERY
Did you know that developing a running practice can jumpstart your recovery when you’re quitting drinking?
Running is a layer of support that helps you set goals, boost confidence, and fill your time with a healthy alternative in early sobriety when all you want to do is pour yourself a drink.
My guest today is Margaret Ward. Margaret is a mother of 4, a multiple marathon finisher, a retired chardonnay drinker, a life and sobriety coach and a former lawyer.
She’s been featured in Trail Runner Magazine and her main passions, beside her kids, is finding adventure through traveling and running around the world.
Margaret’s Recovery Run Adventures offers alcohol-free adventures to destination races in Iceland, Norway and Italy and more.
In this episode we discuss,
- The struggles of motherhood that can drive women to drink as a way to cope with stress, anxiety (+ boredom)
- The mental and physical benefits of running that will help you heal and recover from drinking
- How running helps you control cravings, especially in the beginning
- The ways that releasing energy through running will help you regulate your nervous system, control anger, and physically tire you out, helping you sleep at night.
- The ways in which running decreases stress, anxiety and can help you practice mindfulness
- How developing a small, consistent running practice can provide structure to your days in early sobriety, relieve boredom, get a quick win and boost your confidence
- The way in which running helps you become more in tune with your body
- Fun and exciting running adventures around the world in Iceland, Norway and Italy
10 Ways Running Can Jumpstart Your Recovery
- Running requires little financial commitment and you can jump in at any time. Just grab your running shoes and head out the door.
- Helps control your cravings, especially in early sobriety. When you run, your brain releases endorphins. Endorphins is a chemical released by your brain that triggers positive emotions. This is also known as the runners high.
- Running decreases stress and anxiety. In early sobriety, your stress and anxiety levels can increase. Running increases your heart rate which in turn changes your brain chemistry. Your brain releases an anti-anxiety neurotransmitter such as GABA.
- Moving your body allows you to practice mindfulness. When you run, you connect with your breathing and get into a state of flow. Running is a form of moving meditation.
- Allows you to set goals and see immediate results. Setting running goals builds confidence and it gives you something to celebrate once that goal is accomplished. Start small and commit.
- Provides structure to your day which is an important tool to have during early sobriety.
- Counteracts Boredom.
- Running is a natural way to release energy. Releasing built up energy helps regulate your nervous system, control anger, and will physically tire you out which will help you sleep at night.
- When you start running, you open yourself up to a whole new world. A community of women who will cheer you on and hold you accountable. Joining a local running group helps you establish connections with other women.
- Running provides you a great reason to stop drinking. You’re getting your body healthy. You are giving yourself a great tool to jumpstart your sobriety.
Links and resources mentioned
Connect with Margaret Ward
Find out more about Margaret’s life and sobriety coaching and her travel + running trips at
You can also get Margaret’s free guide, 5 Steps to Jumpstart Your Running and Recovery, at
Read Margaret Ward’s feature in Trail Runner Magazine.
Follow Margaret on Facebook at Recovery Run Adventures
Connect with Margaret on Instagram @recoveryrunadventures
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10 Ways Running Can Jumpstart Your Recovery With Margaret Ward
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SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Margaret Ward
Welcome to the Hello Someday Podcast, the podcast for busy women who are ready to drink less and live more. I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, ex-red wine girl turned life coach helping women create lives they love without alcohol. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was anxious, overwhelmed, and drinking a bottle of wine and night to unwind. I thought that wine was the glue, holding my life together, helping me cope with my kids, my stressful job and my busy life. I didn’t realize that my love affair with drinking was making me more anxious and less able to manage my responsibilities.
In this podcast, my goal is to teach you the tried and true secrets of creating and living a life you don’t want to escape from.
Each week, I’ll bring you tools, lessons and conversations to help you drink less and live more. I’ll teach you how to navigate our drinking obsessed culture without a bus, how to sit with your emotions, when you’re lonely or angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, how to self soothe without a drink, and how to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.
I am so glad you’re here. Now let’s get started.
Well, hi there. Today’s episode is about ways to jumpstart your recovery. And specifically, I’m talking with Margaret Ward about 10 ways that running can jumpstart your recovery.
Margaret runs a company called Recovery Run Adventures where she helps women train, travel and transform and it looks so cool. I’ve known Margaret for a number of years. She’s a mother of four, a former lawyer, a multiple marathon finisher, a runner, a retired Chardonnay drinker of life and sobriety coach, she’s been featured in trail runner magazine, and her main passion, besides her kids are fighting adventures through traveling and throughout the running world. She’s going to talk about ways that running can jumpstart your recovery, whether you’re thinking of drinking, whether you’re in those shaky first days of sobriety, or later in the process, you’ve quit drinking, and are now thinking about what’s next. and developing a running practice is an amazing way to jumpstart your recovery. And the way that Margaret breaks it down. It is really approachable. Even for me, I remember that I actually trained for a 10k in my first four months of sobriety and I had not ran in probably the previous five years. And it was really helpful with the discipline.
I mean, I remember running a mile in my first 5 days as part of a workout class. And I was saying to myself, okay, I can’t imagine how slow I was. But I was saying, Okay, I’m doing this, I’m running, and I haven’t had a drink in five days. And that was incredible to me.
So I am so excited to have Margaret on. Welcome.
Hi, Casey, thanks for having me. I got to tell you, you just talking about training for that first 10k. Like my heart started beating faster for you. And I get so excited for you. Because I know how that must have felt finishing that race like for the first time in sobriety. It’s, it’s something special that first race.
Casey McGuire Davidson 03:37
It was and I also remember because you know, you let everything go to hell, I stopped drinking on February 18. That’s right. I’m in 2016. And the race was on my son’s birthday, which was April 24. And I remember running it all by myself. And in the morning, I picked up the cake on my way home from the race. And I was just going super slowly. But I was feeling this immense joy and just thinking to myself, I now do what I say I’m going to do, which was incredible.
That is so powerful. That’s so powerful. That’s so true. It’s so true.
And one thing we were actually just chatting about. Margaret and I were, before we jumped on the call is, she was telling me about this project she’s working on that she’s so passionate about, which is stories from mom, she, Margaret’s been a mom for 26 years and have four children. And she’s writing a book about sort of the untold stories from the trenches of motherhood and just helping to share like in sobriety, in recovery in motherhood. You’re not alone. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Yeah, so I mean, I say I’m “writing it”, but I’m really curating the stories from other women. Because I know when I was a new mom, there weren’t any books of like stories from real moms out there, there were all the you know how to books. And I think it’s so important that we really hear from women. I mean, one thing I’ve learned from in recovery is how healing stories are. I think the whole reason I’m in recovery now is because I heard somebody’s story for the first time, and could relate to it. And I was like, Wow, there are other people out there that are like me that feel this way, and they’re doing so well.
And it’s so important to have those role models, especially in motherhood, when it is such a lonely time. And nobody talks about that. Nobody talks about how lonely it’s going to be, you know, we talked about feeding schedules, and, you know, going back to work, but nobody talks about the emotions that are attached to these decisions we make. And I think it would just be so helpful in healing for other moms to have a book like that, where they could pick it up and read somebody’s story and be like, me, too. Like, that happened to me. And it changed me. And we’re going to be okay, so I’m really, I’m so excited. I’m starting to get stories from women. And it’s just, it’s, it’s like feeling my heart, like, in a way I’ve never ever felt before.
Casey McGuire Davidson 06:18
I think it’s so important. And I am, I am so excited for you to do this. Because I also have to say that I know for myself, I know from hearing from 1000s of women, that drinking really tends to take off when you have kids, like if you tend to be a big drinker, if you love to drink like I did, like I know you did, once you have kids, you don’t have those other social outlets that kind of mitigated your drinking or, you know, I used to go to Pilates after work or yoga or guitar lessons. Apparently, I supported the entire service industry of Seattle, Washington. But, you know, it was how I kept myself on an even keel. And once I had my son, I was rushing home for him to pick him up at daycare after work. And it was even more humbling when I wasn’t working, because it’s so difficult to meet someone else’s needs 24/7, but we tend to drink a lot. And then we feel even more shame and even more. Not enough. And so it wasn’t until I got to sobriety, even though I was surrounded by girlfriends that I actually talked about the fears I had, the insecurities I had, how sad I felt how, how much I dreaded the next day, and it was drinking, but it was also just life. And it’s kind of amazing that surrounded by people because I was very social. We never talk more about them work was aggravating and your boss and your next vacation. And like kids being annoying, but not that not how I felt.
Yeah, no, I agree. 100%. I mean, there’s a big shame, talk about shame are in motherhood. I mean, it’s huge. And I think that’s what keeps women from talking so much is you know, they want to look like they have it all together, they’re expected to look like they have it all together. You know, we were talking about this generation of women that came before us that, you know, led the way so that we could have it all. And so we expect to then have it all, so we don’t let them down. But it’s an impossible thing to do. It’s an impossible thing to do. And it puts so much pressure on women, you know, to try and do it. And let’s talk about you know, the stay-at-home mom, who is suddenly alone, alone with you know, these little things 24 hours a day, you know, without support. I mean, she might not have family nearby. I mean, in the boredom, nobody talks about the boredom that’s associated with motherhood, there’s boredom, you know, and it’s okay to talk about it. You’re not a bad mom, if you’re bored, but that boredom can lead to Yes, and bad happens. I wouldn’t even call them bad habits, some behaviors that aren’t healthy, you know, such as drinking, such as overspending. You know, I mean, there’s so many things that we did, you know, women turn to because they don’t have a source to talk.
Yeah, and a lot of times, there’s a lot of tension in your marriage, especially when your kids are super young. Because I mean, if we’re used to being you know, you talk about this generation of women who often went to college, went to grad school, work jobs before they have children, whether or not they stay home. I only stayed home for 3 months with my first son. And by the way, that was difficult too. Because talking about failing at work and failing and home. Suddenly, if I wanted to go get a cup of coffee, I had to essentially ask permission. That’s not the right word. But I had to ask my husband to take my son, he I was like on him if he wanted to go play basketball because I’m like, you’ve been at work all day. I’ve been home with our son. I, you know, haven’t, you know, it’s difficult, especially when you’re on day, like, 16.
We have like fee playing nap, scream, scream, scream, repeat. And suddenly you go from this completely independent person who feels great about your capability to cope with life, to this humbling experience of not being able to make anyone happy in your entire life. So, it is pretty common to drink and to be like, okay, because guess what, when you drink, for better or worse, you can still be home and it sort of puts a bubble around you in it, it dulls everything and makes the time go faster. And you know, you it’s so common, it happened to me. I know it happened to you, Margaret. It happens to so many women. So the work you’re doing the book you’re writing, I think it’s amazing. I almost feel, I feel like it will help women who aren’t in the recovery circles who get all this support gets much validation that this stuff is hard, hear that too?
Yeah, I mean, yeah, I mean, so much. There’s so much we could talk about, yeah, how motherhood. I mean, it changes our roles, it changes our relationships, and the guilt that’s associated with that. Yeah, can be really damaging, you know, and not to say that motherhood is awesome. You know, I mean, I think that’s the point of this book, too, that all this can happen. And it can still be awesome. Amazing, you know, but it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Yeah, it doesn’t have to be perfect, and it gets you better. First, those first 3, 4years are just humbling. I know it’s hard later. But it’s less physically and emotionally draining and difficult. Even the wonderful parts. I mean, I, my heart just goes out to like, we’re in the middle of COVID. And my kids are 6 and 12. And trust me, that’s difficult, too. But my God, I have clients and I have friends who have 2-year-olds and 4-year-olds, and wow.
Yeah, I have no words that I just like they are they are my heroes. Yeah, for sure. My heroes, and I worry about them, to be honest. You know, I worry that they’re getting support. Because they’re not obviously they can’t right now. Yeah. Yeah.
Casey McGuire Davidson 12:20
Well, so I’m, I wanted to talk to you because when you launched this business, first of all, I went to your website, which is incredibly beautiful, and had total, I ran a 10k. I felt really good. Then life continued work, kids, starting my Coaching business, I have gotten out of running, I really want to get back into it. But you have these races that I know are on hold. But I mean, half marathons, 10 case marathons in Italy, and where else they look incredible for women in recovery.
Yeah, so the goal of my business Recovery Run Adventures is to have these adventures for women, their alcohol free adventures, so you don’t have to be in recovery from alcohol necessarily, you’re in recovery from something though, but they are alcohol free. And it’s to get women out of their comfort zones.
You know, I mean, though, all these three things will do that traveling, and encountering taking over something like a half marathon, you know, that you’ve never done before. I mean, there’s nothing like that. And so my idea is to combine all those. So our first trip is going to be to Iceland next August. And I, fingers crossed, it’s gonna happen, we’re proceeding as if it’s going to happen.
Yeah, so it’ll be up to 12 women staying doing great adventures during the day, you know, running will be included, and then we’ll end it, you know, the finale will be running this half marathon or 10k. You know, they can choose what, what level they want to want to do. But anyone can do it. I mean, that’s my I don’t want people to be intimidated by you know, a half marathon, because it’s so possible for anyone to do no matter what your level is. It is possible. It’s not about you know, a finishing time it’s, it’s about finishing a goal that you set out to do and feeling good about yourself. And that’s my goal. I want women to be empowered and to feel good about themselves. In something magical. I mean, you’ve done this Casey. When going on, She Recovers Retreat, something magical is when a group of women get together, taking on something together. It’s magical, and you can’t really put it into words, but when you’ve experienced it, there’s nothing like it. There’s nothing like it.
If you’re listening to this episode and have been trying to take a break from drinking, but keep starting and stopping and starting again, I want to invite you to take a look at my on demand coaching course, The Sobriety Starter Kit. The Sobriety Starter Kit is an online self study, sober coaching course that will help you quit drinking and build a life you love without alcohol without white knuckling it or hating the process. The course includes the exact step-by-step coaching framework I work through with my private coaching clients, but at a much more affordable price than one-on-one coaching. And The Sobriety Starter Kit is ready, waiting and available to support you anytime you need it, when it fits into your schedule. You don’t need to work your life around group meetings or classes at a specific day or time. This course is not a 30 day challenge, or a one day at a time approach. Instead, it’s a step-by-step formula for changing your relationship with alcohol. The course will help you turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life. You will sleep better and have more energy, you’ll look better and feel better, you’ll have more patience and less anxiety. And with my approach you won’t feel deprived or isolated in the process. So if you’re interested in learning more about all the details, please go to www.sobrietystarterkit.com. You can start at any time and I would love to see you in the course.
When it’s so powerful, and I never really did this until recovery, I mean, of course, I went on like girl trip adventures, places, but I never really took a trip or vacation time or money or time by myself without my kids until recovery. And, and I think that just having that to look forward to like, if it was me, I’d put it on my vision board, I put up the pictures of Iceland, I put up a picture of me running, or the woman I want to be running, you know, just thinking about it. And just envision that. I mean, I could hold on to that for a year as something that I think in sobriety, it’s so important to look forward to look forward to the amazing, beautiful, fun life, you’re gonna leave that’s more big and adventurous than you ever were when you were drinking. And so I love this idea. And I may even have to start running because I want to go. But it sounds amazing. So that’s awesome.
Yeah, it’s so important to have a goal like in sobriety, to have to celebrate the little milestones and have, you know, this big goal ahead. It’s so important. I know. I think I was 6 months sober. And I was like, Damn, I got to reward myself like, this is huge. Yes. So I looked online, I found a really cheap airfare to Copenhagen. And I went and ran by myself and ran a half marathon there. It was a tiny little local race. I’ve never been so scared in my life. And I’ve traveled alone, like a lot, but to go silver. And to a little local racer, nobody was speaking English. I was scared shitless and I almost turned around and went back to my Airbnb that morning. Now I was like, you can apply over here to check it out. And I went, and it was, it was a life changing experience. It really was. It was life changing. As I’m running around this city, with all the locals out there was maybe I don’t even know there was maybe 100 of it. In this race. It was for charity. And they’re all cheering us on. And I was like, and I’m sober. I want everybody to know,
Casey McGuire Davidson 18:10
like that ultimate. It’s an ultimate high. And I love that, that you did that. Because that’s so brave. And, and I know that travel was one of my I mean, it still is one of my great joys like I’m a huge homebody and a world traveler, like it is just my favorite thing in the world. And I know a lot of women like traveling sober. Traveling without drinking is something that’s, that’s scary. That’s a reason to keep drinking, I have this trip coming up. And you know, since I’ve quit drinking, I’ve traveled to Venice and to Croatia into Greece and Amsterdam, Hawaii and Mexico. And it is wonderful. Like everything you love about travel is still there. And it’s even more exciting. And you get even more creative and all the things I’m positive I’m going to do a whole episode about traveling. But I think right now, it might be too depressing, since all the borders are a lot of them. So we will hold that one. But I have the best advice on silver travel because it is lovely and so brave of you to do that.
Oh my gosh, I’m jealous of your travels that you’ve been on. Yeah, I’m that I’m looking forward to that episode. But traveling is a big trigger for a lot of people because they’re used to doing it a certain way which is, which includes drinking. You know, most people when they go on vacation, it’s time to drink, like I’m on vacation. And you know, let’s, let’s go for it. Let’s stay up late. And so they don’t, they can’t envision a way to do it without that. And so this is an easy entry to go with other women, you know, so there is no temptation for drinking because there won’t be any there and just see what it’s like, you know, and then maybe next time you’ll have the courage to do it on your own.
Well, and I know that. There are, I mean, speaking for myself, but I also work with a lot of women. You know, when people get to the point of needing to quit drinking or wanting to quit drinking, typically, they are sick and tired, right, the old phrase to compare to feeling sick and tired, and a lot of that is physical. And some of that is weight or just feeling good about their, their ability to walk upstairs, their ability to run down the street, their ability to keep up with their kids, muscle, all those things. And it is really important to fill up the time and feel like you are doing something when you’re not drinking that is more than I got through the last 24 hours, right?
So, we’re gonna talk about this episode is, is going to talk about how running can jumpstart your recovery and 10 ways that it can really help you. Of course, it helps you once you’re further along in sobriety. And of course, it’s good for you. There are a lot of women who drink before quitting drinking. But there are a lot who’ve gotten out of it and who’ve gotten out of any exercise because they’re hung over on Saturday mornings. So I love that you’ve put together the benefits of this, but let’s talk about it when you just take us through it.
Yeah, yeah, let’s start. So actually, I think early sobriety is the perfect time to start a running routine. Because, like, for all the reasons you said, You suddenly freed up all this time, you know, you are starting to feel better about yourself. So I would suggest to anyone in early sobriety, yeah, jump in now. Like don’t wait. Go full force right now, maybe not full force. But I think the number one benefit. Running in early sobriety, especially is that it’s gonna give you the most bang for your buck, right? I mean, you don’t have to pay any, you know, monthly fee, you don’t have to get into a car and go anywhere, you can literally just put on your running shoes, open the door and go out. Which is great. Because in early sobriety, you know, you might not know when you want to go run, you know, you might feel tired in the morning or something. So this, there’s no excuses, you can do it. Anytime you feel like it, you can do it when you’re feeling for you know, there’s no excuses anymore. And we want to make life easier for ourselves in early sobriety. Like, wait, why make life difficult? So running provides an easy way to feel good about yourself back. So I would say that’s the number one reason why to start now, don’t hold off, you know, you’re going to get a lot of bang for your buck out of running. I’m just going to preface the next couple of things I say with I am not a science person at all. Like, I avoided all science in high school, in college. I avoided it because I’m not good at it. So if I explained something that’s wrong, I know all the science people are going to come after me. But so I’m pressing it that I don’t know really when I’m talking about except for you decided to go be a lawyer instead. Right. But I, but I hear you.
But I do know, I do know, these are things I do know that running is going to help prevent craving from happening, or if they are happening is going to lessen them. And that’s because something happens in your brain when you run and it’s called endorphins. Okay, here goes all the science stuff. So what are endorphins, endorphins are chemicals that are set off in your brain. And they lessen the pain you feel and they make you feel good. Like that’s as sciency as I can get. Or at least they make you feel that way.
And so when you go for a run, you’re gonna feel good. And that’s why they call this the runner’s high, you know, so when you stop drinking, when you drink, you’re getting a little hit of dopamine, which is one of those endorphins. And that’s only one I know dopamine and serotonin, but the dopamine is the feel good one. So when you take a drink, typically, you know, your brain tells you this is feels good, and it releases that dopamine. So when you stuff, your brain is gonna want that dopamine still to go for a run. And you’ll get that but just in another more healthy way. That is Yeah, that is science. As I get there is a scientist though. John Ratty, and if anybody knows him, and I’m mispronouncing his name, tell him I’m sorry. But he’s a professor over at Harvard. And he studied mostly in a Ph. D. Kids, but he studied the benefits of exercise on the brain. So he did this study, and he put half of the kids on Ritalin and half of them he prescribed something called the lace them up here. And those kids would go run. And the brain had the same exact effect on the brain running and Ritalin. And then he went on to write this whole book that if you’re interested, it’s called Park. And it goes into all the details about what exactly you know happens to the brain when you when you exercise. And he talks specifically about trail running. Because with trail running, it hits the three major things, you’re not only increasing your heart rate, but you’re outside in nature getting the benefits from those that endure on uneven terrain when you’re on a trail. So it’s engaging your brain even further by making you pay attention really, to where you’re going. So those three factors just if you want, like I said, most bang for your buck, go out and go on a trail run, and you’ll get a real hit of dopamine. That was a lot.
What do you think about the difference between walking and running or hiking and running?
Do you know what I mean? Yeah, so as long as you’re increasing your heart rate. So that’s the next thing I was going to talk about. As long as your heart rate is being increased, you’re going to get the benefits of it. And they said that the most. They said, not me. But the scientists who know all this stuff said this. The best benefit is from a moderate level. So it’s not like you’re going sprinting you know going to get a sprint, I mean, you will get benefit from that. But if you’re going at a level where your heart rate isn’t increase at all, is not going to be that great of a benefit. The best is where you know, it’s a moderate exercise. And when that happens, your brain allows GABBA to be released and available to so GABBA is called the break of the brain, the breaks of the brain, if you know what I mean. So this is another huge benefit to running in early sobriety. Because I know I dealt with anxiety. I know you have. I know most people deal with anxiety, not just those who are in recovery. And so running because of that release of Gabba, I mean, it stopped sending anxiety, it stops that, I call it, I have a crazy brain. And I don’t mean that in a derogatory way at all. My brain just literally doesn’t stop at all. So running and getting that little hit of GABBA go down. We just like to take a breath, you know? Yeah.
Casey McGuire Davidson 27:16
Yeah. I mean, I remember just, I mean, one of the reasons that I advise to everyone that they download a sober sort of tracking guide, I love I’m done drinking other people, like, I have to look them up. There’s so many other ones, but they don’t only count days, right? You’re on day 29 you’re on day 30. But that also count, you know, money not spent calorie saved, bottles not consumed time not wasted. It’s similar to running. Because you are doing so much more with those days than just not drinking for 24 hours, you know that the health benefits the financial benefits, the productivity benefits, even if you’re just sleeping, sleeping is so good for your body are good. So it’s not you know, when you look and you say 13 days that feels so anticlimactic. But with running, to like, I ran, You know, when people can track right? So you run two days a week, three, four in a month, hey, I haven’t had a drink in 30 days. And I’ve gone on 10 months. I mean, that is an accomplishment, especially when you typically compare that to what you were doing. Previously, one of my clients went on more hikes in three weeks of early sobriety. She’s a hiker than she had in the previous three months. I mean, that’s just, you’re doing more things positive and constructive than just trying to wait out the days.
I bought that. I’ve never heard anyone explain it like that. And I just love that way of thinking. It’s such a more productive way of thinking then. Yeah, just counting days.
Yeah, I love counting days, right? I believe I’ve been to sobriety is super important. And you know, but I also think that that in and of itself is not you know, a lot of us women like to accomplish other things, right? You’re a mother, you’re raising kids, you’re doing so much in the world. We’re taught to get stuff done and multitask. So we want things to check off our list right getting through day one like I’m always like, every night you put your head in a pillow and he didn’t drink you get a gold star You are a gold star girl. And yet we also like to be like, I took a run I organized the house I did the dishes I ran to the sport practice, right like we want our checkmarks or green checkmarks to bed. I lived and died by my day counter in early sobriety.
Oh, I checked it three times a day sometimes, which now I’m like, do I think it was going to change? Like, I think that number was going to change that day. But it was for me. And I know this isn’t for anyone. But for me, it kept me accountable. And it made me feel so proud. Like, every time I saw that day count go up. I felt like a freaking movie star. Like I was just, I it really and now I haven’t checked it in, you know, a while, but I still keep it. Let me tell you, I so keep it going.
Casey McGuire Davidson 30:30
That is awesome. Okay, I know you have more tips or more reasons. Yeah. And ways that benefit you. So let’s go into.
Yeah, so this one kind of just piggybacks what you were saying is, it gives you a goal. And I think that, like you said, in early sobriety that is so important to have a goal. And this is an easy way to have a goal, and then celebrate a success. So by that, I mean, you know, don’t go out tomorrow on your first day, you know, not drinking and sign up for a half marathon, you know, next week, because you’re going to be disappointed, you’re going to get injured. If you haven’t, you know, the furthest you run is maybe a mile, let’s set the goal a little smaller. And so you can then enjoy the successes.
So, say you’ve never run before, and you want to start a running practice. Give yourself 3 days this week, say I’m going to run 3 days this week. And I’m going to run half a mile and walk half mile on those 3 days. And when you get to that 3rd day, celebrate the heck out of it, you know, and then the next week build off that say, I’m going to still run those 3 days, but maybe I’m going to run a mile, you know, in or maybe I’m going to increase my time that I’m going and I really suggest doing it by time in the beginning. You know, it’s a lot easier way to count your mark your progress than going in miles, you know, because it’s easy to get disappointed then if you can’t make that mileage that you set out. And then you feel bad about yourself, which is like the opposite goal of what we’re aiming towards. So start small, reward yourself, celebrate your successes, go out and you know, buy a new pair of shoes. If you’ve like, done two weeks of consistent running, you know, that you set out to do then go buy yourself a new pair of shoes, go, go get a massage, or let yourself have a bath in the middle of the day, you know, celebrate those. So because they’re so important to celebrate. And it’s such an easy way to see progress you’re running is an easy way to see progress, you’re gonna make progress. If you stick with it. If you set those goals, and you stick with them, you will see progress, I get it. It’s one thing I can’t guarantee much, but I guarantee you will, you will end up better at the end of the month. If you stick with a plan than you did the beginning. Even if it’s a little bit you will be better you will build endurance by sticking with it.
So I love that because I was gonna say you just you just brought back a crazy memory for me. When I was you know super early, I’m talking the first week, the first Sunday. I think I stopped drinking on a Wednesday just because long story could not remember the show as I watched the night before. And somehow that was my final nail in my coffin. So I stopped drinking on Wednesday or Thursday and started working with a coach and she talked about giving yourself sober treats every day. And like I was starting a new session of a workout plus. And so on Sunday, my sole retreat was to go get new running shoes. And I just remember going through the drive thru at Starbucks, getting myself a latte. It was kind of a rainy day it was February and going in to get your running shoes. And that was like my sole retreat on day four. And come and you know, my kids, my daughter was like not quite two. So I sat my car for like, way longer than I needed to at night in my driveway at the store because I was like drinking my latte and listening to the radio and just be like, Okay, this is my half hour today. This is my treat.
Oh my God, that’s a great story. That’s a great story. And we sometimes go out on a run and I have little kids at home anymore, but sometimes they just want a little free time. You know? And I’ll go out on a run and my husband and daughter joke they’re like so how far did you run? Did you run a half marathon cause you’ve been gone like two hours. I’m like, I literally went and got a cup of coffee. Yeah, yeah, not my car. Scroll through social media for a little bit and I actually only ran five miles.
Do you go somewhere away from your house to go running? You always have these pictures of you need the beach which kill me because they’re gorgeous. Yeah.
I have a couple of running routes that you know typically I do, depending on like the day in the schedule, but I do have a route. That’s the hardest route I do right from my house and it’s really hilly, but I try to avoid it and lately I’ve been avoiding it because there’s anything main pretty main road but I’ve gotten kind of freaked out because I do everything. You’re not supposed to do when you see a bear like you’re supposed to I know you know stay calm make doors where your hands and I freakin scream and I run the other direction which is not what you’re supposed to do. it’s a backroom but it’s a road that cars travel on. This is how bad our popular bear population is right now though, and I came around a corner and there were some ferns. And literally, Casey, no joke, like, 10 feet between us was a mama bear with her two cubs. That scares me because a mama.
Yeah, as you know, being a mama, you will forget.
Yeah, exactly, exactly. So I shouldn’t have done I turned the screen. I don’t know if I screamed. But I ran hightailed it and there was a garbage cans at the end of the driveway at the neighbor’s house and I hid behind the garbage cans. Like what was I thinking that the bear wasn’t going to see me like behind the garbage can scare some people off from running early sobriety build up your days, fears will not get you know, bears won’t get you right now. So I’ve avoided that yet. But there’s, there’s some beautiful areas, running areas here in Connecticut that you know, are very close to me that I’m really lucky to have that available. But I find that most… This is another thing that I love about running no matter where I go. There’s always running routes available. Now even in a City, you know, even my daughter and I traveled to Southeast Asia and in Chiang Mai. And there, you find running places, you’re just easily there’s always a running community, no matter where you go, there is a running community that will welcome you which anywhere in the world is which I love, you know, U.S. runners are pretty friendly people.
Casey McGuire Davidson 36:45
Yeah, which is another one of the benefits of, of, you know, running in early sobriety because it can be lonely. And I know a lot of people worry about, you know, losing friendships and not being invited places. And running, if you want it to, if you don’t want to, it can be a solo thing too, which you know, to provide alone time. But if you want it to, there’s a whole community that you can join, and they won’t care if you’re not drinking, you know, they will welcome you because they all have this common goal – to run.
Right now, it’s a little difficult to do that, you know, with Corona, but there’s still lots of running groups available, you know, that you can google online and join the community. And locally, there’s, I know, near me, there’s you just have to go to meetup.com, type in running. And you’ll find so many groups, you know, that meetup, you know, on the weekends to run all different levels, all different paces. And it’s just a great way to meet people and not feel alone. Because you don’t you shouldn’t be alone in sobriety. And you should know that there are, you’re not going to be alone. Like certain friendships might go away. And you might not be invited to certain things, but it’ll look different. And it’ll look great.
Casey McGuire Davidson 38:00
All right, what other things do you have to tell us about running and recovery?
Okay, let’s see. Another Biggie for me. And I think a lot of people feel this way too, is, I have trouble meditating. Like I said, I have this brain that really does not shut down. And I really want to start a meditation practice on one of my you know, things to check off, and I’ve tried. But if you’re like me, and you have trouble, an easy entry point to meditation is running. And here’s why. So, when you run, the first couple of steps always suck. I’m sorry, like, no matter who you are, how long you’ve run, they’re always going to suck. But after a while, no, usually by like, a quarter mile or you know, a few minutes in, you’ll start to go good. And it’s because you start breathing, and you have to breathe to run, like there’s no way around it, you have to breathe, you have to go in and out. And after a while, you know, your legs, start thinking with your breath. And you start thinking, you know, things, and you’re, you’re totally zoned out. And it’s called a moving meditation. And it actually works.
Now there’ll be some runs, where all of a sudden I’m like, oh, wow, like 15 minutes has gone by and I didn’t even realize it. And on runs that I have a hard time getting into that, you know, where are my Bryant brain is still going 100 miles an hour. I use mantras to get me into that zone. So my personal mantra I use a lot is my legs are powerful. My heart is strong, and my mind is free. And I keep repeating that over and over and over and over. And that helps, you know get into that zone. And it really does help I have something I want to read which explains it a lot better. This is from Chris for my McDougall’s book he has a book called Born to Run and this is this is what he says Relaxing off into the run in your body becomes so familiar with the cradle rocking rhythm that you almost forget you’re moving, you have to listen closely to the sound of your own breathing. And ask yourself, honestly, and often, exactly how you feel, what could be more sensible than paying exquisite attention to your own body. And I just love that because, you know, like we said, U.S. moms, especially busy moms, we are running through the day, we’re going from one thing to another, picking up kids dropping off kids making meals, and to give yourself the luxury of that time where you can actually tune into your own body and say, you know, what, kind of my legs feel today? You know, how my back feels. How am I earn, feel, you know, just to allow yourself that time to ask yourself those questions.
In some days, yeah, my legs feel like shit. You know, they feel heavy, they don’t feel good. And sometimes it’s important to listen to that, you know, and say, Okay, you know what, I’m not going to do the extra mile today, I’m going to slow down. I’m going to give myself that permission to do that. But running gives you that time and space to do that. And especially when you’re sober. When you’re sober, you can actually listen to your body, you know, because I ran when I wasn’t sober, and I didn’t listen to my body, you know. So now I’m really grateful.
Casey McGuire Davidson 41:13
yeah, yeah, I mean, I read your article in trail runner magazine, which was beautiful, and so well written. And my favorite quote, that you wrote, there was as a woman in recovery, I have rediscovered my relationship with running and its place in my life. Running has allowed me to redefine my ideas of self-worth. It provides an outlet far better than any wineglass.
Oh, that makes me want to cry. It’s beautiful. It’s beautiful. Thank you. So true, too.
Yeah. And I love when you also talk about sort of sobriety, and I know you’re a Coach, and work with women as I am, which I think is wonderful. You know, you talk about, you know, quitting drinking, as having a similar process for running, right, you just don’t wake up one morning and say, I think I’ll run a marathon today, so many women wake up, and they’re like, That’s it, I’m never gonna drink again, and then beat themselves up when on day two, day three, day four, their white knuckling it runs out and their brain takes over and says, this is all too hard.
Of course, it’s too hard. Like, I often tell women think about quitting drinking in the same way you do about running a marathon. caveat, not that I’ve ever done it. But like, your partner does not need to run a marathon with you, your best friend does not need to run a marathon with you. They don’t need to understand why you’re doing it in the same way. They don’t need to quit drinking with you or understand it. You need support, you find like-minded people who are doing this who’ve done it before, maybe you get a Coach, you join a group, you put together a plan, you break it down into manageable milestones. And at the end of the day, it’s something you’re really proud of, it’s something you’re doing for your health, mental health, physical health. But nobody wakes up says I’m going to run a marathon today, and then beats themselves up when they stop at mile two. I mean, if they do, that’s crazy, of course, you need to train and take it step by step for six months and be reinforced and get information on nutrition and supports and, and encouragement when it gets hard, like the same process when you want to quit drinking, because it’s not good for you. And if someone says, Oh, my God, why the hell are you running a marathon? That’s ridiculous. Just have a glass of wine. They don’t need to understand they’re not on the same goal track that you are.
Yeah, I make that comparison all the time. Because it’s such a good comparison, because the two really are the same, you know, they take the same steps. Yeah, to run a marathon takes a lot. It takes a lot, it takes a lot of training, it takes a lot of runs that you know, you go out to run 20 miles and you end up only running 10. And you know, and then you get back out there and you keep going you don’t give up. You know, you keep going just because you have a day where it’s stuck, you don’t give up, you keep back at it. And it takes nutrition and it takes accountability. It takes Yeah, it takes all those things. And that’s exactly you know, what sobriety takes? Yeah, it takes a lot.
And even as I’m talking to you about this, the thought of a marathon is so daunting to me. So I think I’m going to start with going out running, just putting my shoes on and starting. And I think I can only get maybe a mile. I can do three miles but like stopping every mile. So maybe trying to do that more often and building up and maybe a 5k or 10k distance will be enough for me because again, same way I tell women when they start like don’t think about forever. Like, set a goal like a 5k, which for me is like 100 days of not drinking, maybe that’s a 10k if I’m being honest, because that’s pretty big, and then break it down, you’re trying to get through day five you’re trying to get through day. 720 days is incredible. You’re a rock star. So in the same way, like running three miles without stopping, you’re effing rock star. By total effing rock star. Yeah, say fuck to your fuck Oh, thank God. I know, I was like, why did I even say that? I don’t know.
Oh, my gosh, she I know set your goals. Like I said, set your goals, you know, depending on where you’re at. And don’t try to compare yourself to somebody else. You know, and I fell into that habit so many times as a runner, and I had imposter syndrome. So bad, even though I had run marathons, you know, because I didn’t run a certain time or a certain pace, but I thought I wasn’t, you know, runner enough. And you can’t do that you can’t compare yourself to anybody else, but yourself. And that’s why I finally threw the watch away when I got sober, because I’m like, this isn’t the reason why I’m running. And it’s not good mentally to compare yourself to other people, you know, where are you? what feels good for you? And go with that?
Casey McGuire Davidson 46:18
And love it. I love it. So tell me about the Recovery Coaching that you do? What kind of women do you work with? Are they in early sobriety? Or do they know they want to use running to quit drinking or build up a running practice? Are they more running focused or more sobriety focus? You know, what? What’s your favorite way to work with women?
Yeah, with my Recovering Coaching, it really is based on sobriety, you know, and I work mostly with gray area drinkers, because that’s what I was. And I am a huge proponent of you know, getting off that elevator early that you don’t have to hit a rock bottom. Because I think for a long time, I, again, was comparing myself to others. And the image I had of what an alcoholic was, was not me, you know, it was portrayed in the movies as this person who’s down in the basement, this old man, you know, no, it wasn’t me. So for a long time, I kept saying, It’s not bad enough. You know, I can’t possibly have a problem. I’m not bad enough.
And the question I should have been asking me, and I think more I’ve been calling is the one who says this all the time is right. Question is, is it right enough? Like, do you feel good enough? Like, that’s the real question. And I didn’t, the answer was no, I didn’t feel good enough. So I love working with women who are even just over curious, you know, and maybe they do want to start taking up running and they’re drinking, you know, doesn’t really mesh with that. So, like you said, you don’t have to make some big pronouncement, you know, that, Oh, god, I’m an alcoholic, I can’t ever drink again, I’m going to give it a try. You know, I’m in a Navy training after this half marathon. And my goal is not to drink during the training, and see how that goes. And I love that because I think that is so empowering for women, you know, just to take a pull back and not let society dictate that you know what, I’ve got to be part of this mommy wine culture, and I won’t have any fun. And I won’t have any friends if I if I don’t partake anymore. And that’s just let me call it out. That’s just all bullshit.
Casey McGuire Davidson 48:23
Yeah, yeah. And I love I really like the idea. I love the picking a period of time not to drink setting the goal running for the period of time, that you’re not drinking, training is great. But I really do want to encourage women to while you’re doing that, also do some work around not just not drinking, because you’re running in the same way you’re not drinking because you’re doing a whole 30. But looking at why you’re drinking, what emotions you’re trying to work through developing new coping strategies, with that resetting your mind deconditioning yourself from the from the messaging that drinking is good and required. And you don’t have to do that with a Coach.
You know, you can do that with podcasts. You can do that with books on sobriety, Quit Lit, which I the podcast episode on The Best Quit Lit for Women, which is really helpful. You can do that through free private Facebook messaging groups, with a Therapist, or with a Coach, which is really personalized. And you get to work through your own limiting beliefs and your own roadblocks and stumbling blocks to not drinking so you have a reason and a timeframe to take alcohol into your life, which is, you know, I originally told everyone I was going doing 100 day challenge because I wanted to get in shape and I wanted to get healthier and my sleep was bad, and all these things. But, you know, they didn’t need to know that I was worried about more than the extra 20 pounds or whatever. It was or, you know, not being all in on my morning workouts. That’s what I told them. And that is valid. And that was a big part of it. But in addition to I’m doing whole 30, I’m running at 10k.
If your goal is to reevaluate your relationship with drinking, take that time to actually reevaluate your relationship with drinking with additional tools and resources, because it is a gift. And if you don’t work on your mindset, you will, you know, your best thinking will bring you back exactly where you are right now.
No, absolutely. I couldn’t agree. More. And I mean, that was the most important part of it, for me was uncovering, you know, the reasons behind why I was drinking and I encourage all my clients, you had to do the same thing. Take that time off. But yeah, really? start examining the reasons why you’re picking up that glass every night. You know, because that’s where the real work begins. Oh, my God, you know, for most benefits.
Casey McGuire Davidson 51:00
Absolutely. I did so many things to try to stop drinking. I think I told you this. But in the beginning of the year, when I quit drinking, and I quit drinking February 18th, January, I signed up for a running club because clearly, you know, I needed to get in shape. I wanted to get in shape. It’s the new year new you whatever. And I would, you know, there were Saturday morning group runs, and there were Tuesday night group runs. And I would come home on Tuesday night, after running, say three miles, two miles, four miles, whatever it was, and drink a bottle of wine at 8pm. Like we got together in the evenings after work, and I would still drink a bottle of wine. So it was like, okay, clearly joining a running club is not enough to stop me from downing a bottle of wine. But um,
yeah, so I got your B, I got your B. Do you have for an Iron Man? I signed up for an Iron Man because I thought that would get me to stop drinking. Yeah, here’s a little, it didn’t.
It didn’t work. Yeah,
I mean, it kind of did. Because it was the last summer before I finally stopped drinking, and it was on my lap. It was on my last 100 mile run. I just am remembering all the hundreds.
Casey McGuire Davidson 52:16
You didn’t just say 100 mile run. I never run 100 mile bike ride. Okay, still, but I was like, you’ve got to be kidding me. That’s insanity.
Really was insanity. And the what was more insane is thinking that it would get me to stop drinking. You know, that’s more insane. Because that last 100 mile bike ride. You know, there’s so I had these clipless pedals, you know, so that you can, you don’t have to, it’s easier to pedal. And I was so exhausted and so tired. And my body was so done, I literally just came to an intersection and just fell. I just like top of I couldn’t my brain wasn’t functioning enough to tell myself to unclip from the pedals. And I just fell over and I ended up tearing my meniscus. And it was 3 weeks before the Iron Man, so I was out. But it was that was I was done drinking like that. That was an all of a sudden, that was a click. I was done. My body had had enough. And I was like this is it. So I mean, I guess it eventually did work. But yeah. Yeah, no, all these little tricks we try to get it did doesn’t work if you know.
Yeah. But if you make the commitment that not drinking is the foundation of everything you want in life, which is so true. I mean, it just is it is the one thing that you don’t realize that it’s holding you back and sabotaging so much of your progress. If not drinking is your foundation, then starting a running practice working with a Coach.
For me, going to my 5:30 workouts, um, you know, talking to a therapist, all those things are layers of support that will help you stay the course and navigate the inevitable sort of bolts in sobriety where you want to go back to drinking or the triggers the roadblocks, all the things, having that consistent forward progress, having the fresh air, endorphins, just making yourself tired with exercise, you’re able to sleep at night earlier. So you’re not like wandering around your house and going to your kitchen where you typically open the bottle of wine. You know, at the end of the day, having a schedule to run or running clubs so that even though you really want to drink what you need to do is eat an apple with peanut butter and get out there. And if you are committed to not drink, eat and have support. Maybe you won’t drink like I did after.
Yeah, no, no, no, totally. Yeah. I mean, everybody needs a full toolbox. Right? I mean, is one tool within that toolbox? Yeah. And if you use it properly, it’s you’re going to benefit from it.
Casey McGuire Davidson 54:59
Yeah, and right. I need to add running to my toolbox because I’m not going to my morning workouts with the people I love. We’ve been trying to do it over zoom. And I have to say that I’m worse than most in actually showing up. And I do need more tools just to manage feeling cooped up to manage getting some solo time and some endorphins away from my children, you know, to get healthy and move my body. So you are inspiring me.
I wanted to give you a shout out on your site, you have a fabulous, free download. It is 5 Steps to Jumpstart Your Running and Recovery. And can you tell us a little bit about what’s in there?
Yeah, so this is just for anybody interested in getting sober who’s interested in starting a running practice but doesn’t know where to start? I mean, so these five things are kind of like your roadmap on how to do it.
Casey McGuire Davidson 55:55
Great. Great. And so you can go to Margaret’s website, her name’s Margaret Ward, the website is recoveryrunadventures.com.
I will put that link into the show notes of this episode. So you can find it really easily as well as a list of the 10 benefits are running to jumpstart your recovery that Margaret mentioned on this call so you can find that all there. And Margaret, what are the best ways for people to get in touch with you? Is it your website?
Yeah, you can go on the website or I’m on Facebook. You know Margaret Ward on Facebook. I’m love to talk to people. I love to connect to people they can private message me I’m always available. Wonderful.
Casey McGuire Davidson 56:40
Thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it.
Yeah, this is fun. Thank you.
So thank you for coming on here. I couldn’t appreciate it more.
Thank you for listening to this episode of The Hello Someday Podcast. If you’re interested in learning more about me or the work I do or accessing free resources and guides to help you build a life you love without alcohol, please visit hellosomedaycoaching.com. And I would be so grateful if you would take a few minutes to rate and review this podcast so that more women can find it and join the conversation about drinking less and living more.
ABOUT THE HELLO SOMEDAY PODCAST
The Hello Someday Podcast helps busy and successful women build a life they love without alcohol. Host Casey McGuire Davidson, a certified life coach and creator of The Sober Girl’s Guide to Quitting Drinking, brings together her experience of quitting drinking while navigating work and motherhood, along with the voices of experts in personal development, self-care, addiction and recovery and self-improvement.
Whether you know you want to stop drinking and live an alcohol free life, are sober curious, or are in recovery this podcast is for you.
In each episode Casey will share the tried and true secrets of how to drink less and live more.
Learn how to let go of alcohol as a coping mechanism, how to shift your mindset about sobriety and change your drinking habits, how to create healthy routines to cope with anxiety, people pleasing and perfectionism, the importance of self-care in early sobriety, and why you don’t need to be an alcoholic to live an alcohol free life.
Be sure to grab the Free Sober Girl’s Guide To Quitting Drinking right here.
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