Community Reader Stories from Dry January

    Reader Stories from Dry January


    We recently reported on the Dry January phenomenon, giving up alcohol for the month of January. One astute reader had issue with the piece. “Feeling a need to drink or wanting to drink alcohol is not a habit. It’s an addiction, which is very different from a habit. It’s actually a medical condition,” one reader wrote. “You classify “drinking in moderation” as healthy. You’re 100% wrong. Alcohol, by definition, is a poison. Drinking any amount is unhealthy for you and is one of the number one causes of death, linked to many issues and is one of the leading causes of cancer.” The message from this reader was clear: alcohol is nothing to take lightly.

    Alcohol is certainly a personal issue and each individual has their own beliefs and responses. We heard from many readers after posting our story, and heard responses running the gamut. Some responses were funny. Some were serious. As a whole, the responses were almost entirely mixed.

    “Dry Martini, dry white wine, dry [brut] champagne ….. what other form of dry is there?” asked one reader.

    “As long as alcohol is in moderation—like everything—it’s fine. Live and enjoy life,” one reader said.

    “I don’t hate myself enough to go through a pandemic and be dry at the same time. It’s hard enough,” said one more.

    Of course, the opposite side of the spectrum was also heard from after posting our story. It was impressive, given how soaked our culture is, including the running culture, with alcohol messaging. Some of the comments against booze included these.

    “Kinda haven’t stopped having a dry life—not for moral reasons. I just figure: if I’m going to have that many empty calories, it’s going to involve chocolate, caramel or ice cream instead,” wrote one reader.

    “I do Dry January and Sober October every year. Always feel so much better,” one reader said.

    “Sober 7 years!” one reader said. “My first half marathon when I was two years sober, and started running when I was one year sober.”

    “I have now been sober for 10 years. It started when I was training for a marathon and noticed that my legs always felt a little fresher when I went without alcohol. Time just went by and I never felt like drinking again!”

    Many runners talked about treating alcohol as a reward after a workout or a race. A reward for their training. How many runners enjoy a beer with their Sunday post-long run brunch? Plus, many races have a beer sponsor and some even hand out beers to finishers after their event. There are races in Las Vegas. Run clubs built around beer. And the Harriers, described as a “drinking club with a running problem.” Beer and running go hand in hand. Or do they? My friend Byron Jenkins wrote about his relationship with alcohol.

    “Liquor never caused me to miss a day of work, be arrested or hospitalized or earned me a DUI rap. Still, I was keenly aware I was using booze as a crutch in far too many life situations,” he wrote. “Too often liquor was a handy release, a stress relief, a feel-good potion on Friday and Saturday nights and on almost all social occasions. Self-aware of its adverse affects on me, I’d lost track of how many failed attempts I’d made at cutting back.” Eventually, Jenkins quit alcohol, cold turkey. The way he did it might sense to many type A, all-or-nothing runners.

    “American journalist John Drybred wrote, “For those who are given to excess, abstinence is easier than moderation.” Cutting it out altogether, then, was my only way forward,” wrote Jenkins. “All or nothing. The date I did it, May 28, 2018, will be etched on my memory for the rest of my life. How did I accomplish this feat, quit consuming alcohol altogether after using it for so long? I don’t know. I just spontaneously decided—and fortunately had the mental fortitude to back my decision—that, at age 62, it was time to remove this millstone from my neck.”

    Jenkins runs marathons at 65-years-old. He says, “Halting the consumption of all that beer, wine and whiskey had to happen if I was ever going to get seriously fit. If I kept drinking booze I would never again drink from the fountain of youth.

    It’s interesting to consider the role alcohol plays in running culture. Both as a motivator but also as a hindrance. One runner described her drinking like this: “I’m enjoying “Damp January,” a significant cut back, but I don’t beat myself up if I have a Friday glass of wine.”

    Not beating ourselves up, I like the sound of that.

    Wishing you all safety and health.