Staying Sober in a Work Hard, Train Hard, Play Hard Kind of World
"I don’t drink." It can feel strange declaring those words in a culture that chases finish lines with celebratory beers and where boozy brunches are standard. It’s even stranger declaring them as someone who once loved to go out and drink and dance while my favorite “work hard, play hard” anthem blared from the speakers. Trust me, I know. I’ve been there. But I’ve also ventured through what I thought would be a brief experiment in sobriety and learned to shift my focus on the intoxicating strength that comes with crushing athletic goals.
I’ve been sober for almost seven years, and I’m happy to say I continue to abstain from alcohol in a time where it seems cocktails are getting craftier by the minute and everywhere you look you’re being handed a beer or a bottle opener medal at the finish line. The first few times that I told anybody “I don’t drink” it was met with an inquisition. I explained how I was training for a goal race and I wanted to remove distraction and anything that could be causing my performance to suffer. The reality was I couldn’t justify balancing my crazy training schedule with going out and getting borderline blackout. I couldn’t make sense of why I was eating well and training so hard, but ultimately failing at being as healthy as I could. It is exhausting to train for a marathon- it’s near impossible to try to balance a heavy training load with heavy drinking.
I’d like to tell you that as soon as I stopped drinking I became this ridiculous elite athlete who you’ve already heard of but didn’t know was sober, but that’s not the reality. I’m actually slower now than I was during my days of chasing hard training with drunken nights, but that’s due to a shifting of priorities.
So why do I stay sober, even after all this time? Especially if it hasn’t skyrocketed my performance? Well for starters it is a lot easier to get up for a long run when you weren’t out drinking the night before. There’s less stiffness in my body, better quality sleep, and less risk of dehydration. And that’s life and training. You never know what the one thing that is going to totally improve your performance will be. But the more I’ve gotten into this endurance athlete thing – I realized that chasing PR’s is not always all it’s cracked up to be when I have refocused my goals to truly enjoy what I’m doing all of the time. And it’s a lot easier to do when I’m not fighting off the fog of last night sins.
After six plus years of choosing to be sober, sometimes it gets difficult to still feel like the outsider. There is surely a place for alcohol in our culture, but it’s been refreshing to see the emergence of craft non-alcoholic brews for those of us who still like the taste. And other options at the finish line that cater to other indulgences. For those of us who are the person to say - “no thank you, I don’t drink”. For ourselves. For our long run tomorrow morning. For those friends and family members who battle addiction and can’t choose.
The longer I stayed sober, the better I felt. The bloat and fog goes away almost instantly. But the mental clarity and realization that you’re consciously choosing to do something that will make you feel better comes over time. And boy is it powerful. I started to realize that the longer I am electively sober, it became less about something I did, and more about something I was. Sobriety isn’t necessarily a plan for everyone, and that’s ok too. But the next time you are training for a lofty goal, and need a little extra push, try swapping the booze for a seltzer for a few weeks. Who knows- I just may see you at the finish line going for celebratory donuts at the next race!
Written By: Kristy Wang, Tri Sirena Siren Luminary
Follow Kristy on Instagram @runningkween
Have something you would like to contribute? Let us know in the comments below!
This blog was created for informational purposes only. It's content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or online.