Addicted to Running: How 4 Runners Beat Their Demons

Need a survival strategy to face your demons and leave bad habits behind? Four runners show you how becoming addicted to running literally saved their lives.

  • Nobody wakes up and decides to use drugs and alcohol as a coping strategy for life.
  • It happens. One drink at a time. One high at a time.
  • And then one day, it's an addiction with a long list of destructive consequences

Some never recover.

Some spend a lifetime going from one relapse to the next.

And some find a way to beat those demons, keep going, and even THRIVE.

In this article, you'll meet 4 runners who used running to beat some of their biggest struggles.

Running helped Suzanne Swanson lose weight, quit drinking, run 17+ marathons, and she's still going.

"Put on your running shoes and go."

That's what Suzanne Swanson thought when she hit rock bottom after a long battle with alcohol.

She needed a simple strategy to do things differently and measure progress...

  • How do you measure your progress as a runner? 
  • Do you count miles, pace, calories, or days? 
  • How about mailboxes? 

Learn about Suzanne's unique running strategy that ultimately saved her life:

Here's her story about becoming addicted to running: 

There was a time when Aaron Clineman felt completely alone. Getting sober and discovering running changed everything...

What’s it take to build confidence and become a better runner?

You could say Aaron Clineman got an early start on this. 

But not in the conventional way like:

  • Team sports
  • Cross country
  • Fun runs, or...
  • Working with a coach

Instead, his training ground to build confidence started on day one…born to parents addicted to drugs and alcohol.

His one goal: SURVIVE.

He had to figure it out the HARD way, but becoming addicted to running, strength training, and healthy lifestyle habits ultimately saved his life. 

Here's what happened... 

“If you feel like you’re going through hell, don’t stop.” —Keith Callaway Jr.

Keith Callaway Jr. was addicted to drugs and alcohol for more than two and a half years. 

He finally reached a tipping point, and he knew he only had two choices:

  • Get clean and sober, or...
  • Die a drug addict

Trying to get clean was an uphill battle with weight gain, depression, and the craving to get high.

But when he got an endorphin rush on a run, he became addicted to running...and taking his life back one step at a time.

Here's what happened...

When Leah Staley started drinking to calm her panic attacks and dull the physical and emotional scars from a near-fatal car accident, she knew she needed to make a change.

"You'll never be able to run again."

Doctors delivered the devastating news to the young 16-year-old Leah Staley after a serious car accident.

She worked through the injury after surgery and physical therapy, but it left scars inside and out.

A few years out of high school, she began drinking.

  • A lot.
  • Almost every day.
  • It was a way to calm the panic attacks.
  • But she knew she had to find a better way to manage the day to day. 

Here's what happened...

Are you addicted to running?

Maybe you're addicted to running because you love things like:

  • The runner's high
  • Chasing PRs
  • Competing in races
  • The benefits of running for the mind and body

Or do you have bigger reasons to run? Running can literally save your life like it did for these four runners.

Why do you run?

Tell us about it in the comments.

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Evan Jensen
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SANDY, Oregon
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I help RUNNERS reduce injuries, fix running form, run longer & faster by strength training without running ragged. I'm a NASM...

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