Club Soda member and parkrun UK volunteer Tamara shares her story of addiction followed by recovery, using exercise and fitness for motivation and being part of a community.
I feel pretty nervous sharing this but, with gratitude, am compelled to write a bit about me and what parkrun has done for me. Being a recovering addict and sometimes in the past having fallen back into my addiction by relapsing, I can now say that parkrun has played a massive part in my recovery.
Before joining parkrun, I used to do a few runs on my own, but they were sporadic and not structured. I wanted to improve my fitness and be part of a community, so parkrun seemed like a good idea, especially since there was one so close to my house! My first two parkruns were in 2012. Although I enjoyed the run, I didn’t come back until two years later when I decided to give it another shot. This time I met some wonderful people who were friendly to me from the onset. We went for a coffee after the run and just had a nice time. This made me want to come back the week after, and before I knew it, parkrun was a regular feature in my weekend calendar – not just the run, but the coffee afterwards too!
I’ve made real friends who I can chat to without the use of drugs or alcohol and I’ve had real laughs and felt real emotions which, to be honest, I’ve never felt with my non-running friends before. I’ve discovered that I can have a fulfilling social life without these substances. I’ve learnt that addiction is not a way of life; if anything it has stumped my personal growth and has stolen my freedom, all of which I thought it was giving me.
Through running on a Saturday morning, I’ve made friends with other runners who have given me hope and pushed me to do 10ks, half marathons and my first marathon this year. I’ve found love and support, instead of lying in bed every Saturday morning suffering from a hangover of some kind. It has made me get up and given me a positive purpose and great endorphins to start my day on a positive note, rather than lying down helpless and wasting my precious life away.
I no longer blame other people for my addiction and know it’s up to me to change – I am responsible for my own life and I only get one shot at it. It’s great to be part of a community that are generally kind individuals who help and support each other. I now know I was slowly killing myself and I don’t want to die! I am taking it one day at a time but happy to have parkrun and new found joy in my life.
If anyone is struggling with something similar, please do not despair! There are loads of support groups, or you can speak to a professional and obtain the correct advice and help. You too can turn your life around for the better!