• Samuel Gegen

Sobriety: An Invitation to all things possible. Meet Vince!

Updated: Dec 25, 2019

Running into Sobriety.

Instagram: imvincerightnow. Sober Date: 01.01.2019

People always ask me for advice on how to get started on running. I always reply with a very simple, “Just start! Don’t make it complicated. Throw on some shoes and RUN.” I would love to say my journey to running was that easy but I would be lying. To be completely honest, becoming a runner was never the goal and it started two years ago when I was running for my life.

In February of 2017, I was getting out of my car when I was held at gunpoint. There were four men, all pointing guns at me. I dropped my keys and ran as fast as I could. I felt the guns still being pointed toward me as one of them started my car. They got away and totaled the vehicle. I was completely wasted from partying with friends that night and didn’t see them following me home for over a mile. 


I moved in with my parents a few weeks later because I no longer had my rental car and I was out of money. A costly divorce and partying every single night emptied my bank account. Suddenly, a thunderstorm became a hurricane. I was getting blackout drunk every night to sleep and cope with this new life. I would go to work at 7 a.m. and arrive back home around 4 p.m. to drink all night until I fell asleep. This went on for almost a year until October when I heard Iyanla Vanzant say on her Ted Talk: “Nobody is coming to save you”. Those words hit me like a ton of bricks. Nobody knew I was struggling with alcohol addiction. Nobody could help me put down the bottle or make the choice. I was drinking a bottle of wine plus multiple beers every night. I was hiding it well and that was the terrifying part. In fact, I had struggled with alcohol for over five years and didn’t admit it to myself or anyone.


That November, I made the decision to limit my drinking to weekends only. At the same time, I got a free entry for a 5k. On one of the first sober mornings, I struggled through the race. My body was in shock. It was my first time running since being held at gunpoint. I watched the half marathon runners finish after me and was suddenly inspired. I decided that morning to work toward a half marathon to keep myself from drinking 


I knew that I had to change my eating habits of Chinese food and Burger King every night to something sustainable. I did a round of Whole30 to help mask the drinking and discovered I am Celiac with a dairy allergy. I had been killing my body with gluten-filled beer every night and had no clue. My joints were no longer swollen and I didn’t have chronic brain fog anymore. I could suddenly run significantly better without pain.

In April of 2018, I ran my first half marathon with a finish of 1:49. In November of 2018, I ran my first full marathon at the same place that I ran the 5k a year before. I have now completed three half marathons and will run my second full marathon this fall. All of this is so exciting to me because it is just the beginning of a passion and way of life. I don’t look at running as alcohol replacement because running gives me everything alcohol never could; clarity, an escape, stress-relief, confidence, joy, and healthier coping skills. 

In the past two years, I’ve learned Sobriety is not the answer to happiness. It is the invitation to all things possible. I have started my sobriety over three times since January of 2018 and that’s something I happily own. I have learned through running that sobriety is a marathon. Take it by mile by mile and give yourself grace. Accept the encouragement from spectators and drink all the water. There will be slips and falls but you always push on and head toward the next mile.

I am a firm believer that sobriety is something you must do yourself but you also can’t do alone. I failed the first two times because I traveled alone. The best thing I did was follow people on Instagram that helped me feel less alone. I am lucky to have met Sam Gegen (@samuelgegen) who inspired me to walk away from the expectations of the gay party scene. I am also so grateful for Laura Mckowen (@lauramckowen) and her words and vulnerability in recovery. Everyone’s journey looks different but we’re all just walking each other home. 


Sadly, I don’t have any advice on how to get started with running because I’m still figuring it out. But I can give you solid advice on how to get started with sobriety and it’s quite simple: Just start! Don’t make it complicated. Throw on some shoes and RUN! 

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