If you’ve just finished Dry January, a big congratulations is in order. If you didn’t quite make it 30-days dry, don’t beat yourself up. It’s not an easy task to disconnect both your conscious and unconscious mind from the idea of drinking.
It was about three years ago, in February 2020 when my dread first set-in. I had tried and miserably failed at Dry January. In previous years, I scoffed at the idea of skipping booze for a month, but adored the idea of dieting, detoxing and deadlift-ing my way through the first month of the year. I was in denial, which was extremely obvious once I made a serious attempt at being ‘dry’ for the first time. The realisation I was barely able to control my drinking anymore scared the sh** out of me.
February became a reckoning time, both that year and the year after once I was truly on the path of an alcohol-free lifestyle.
As you may have found out yourself, cutting out alcohol even for a short amount of time has incredible benefits. Research shows even one month of being dry has positive impacts on your health for the rest of the year. Clear head, calm emotions, more energy and less chaos are just a few of the immediate effects you can feel and see. Now that Dry January and, perhaps, Shaky February, are over, it’s time for you to do a bit of a reckoning of your own too. Is that beer or glass of wine after a hard day worth it anymore?
As runners, you’ll know the feeling of the well-worn path in the shape of your regular route, the one you can run on auto-pilot day-in and day-out that never surprises you. Dry January is kind of like that extra mileage you decide to squeeze in mid-route and it feels uncomfortable and new. Your neurons want to get you back to autopilot, but you know you need the extra miles. In this case, you might recognize you need to cut back or cut out alcohol, but your mind will work against you to get back on the well-worn neural pathways it has developed over the years.
February is not the finish line, and, on the first day of March, we know you’re not finished training. Even if you stay on your regular route, keep extending that mental mileage throughout the year by remembering how great you felt in January. Was February improved? Remember: You are much stronger now, and the mantra “mind over matter” literally means everything. Just like running, the more you practise not drinking mentally, the easier your mind will adapt to the idea. One day your new route is going to take you completely off your ‘regular’ path and you’ll be running fartleks in a whole new direction.
Cheers to all of you, happy March—you got this—and many happy miles!