Runner’s World+ member, Shayna Christensen, sat down with deputy health and fitness editor, Mallory Creveling to talk about the turning point in her life that led her to sobriety. A runner before she stopped drinking, she also shares how her new relationship with alcohol has also shaped a new commitment to running.
Runner’s World: Thank you so much for being here with us today and chatting with us about your relationship with alcohol and how that’s affected your running and your life. Can you talk a little bit about what made you want to stop drinking and what changed in your relationship with alcohol that made you want to stop?
Shayna Christensen: You know, alcohol and running have been—this sounds so strange, put side-by-side like this—but have been the biggest part of my world since I got out of college. So right out of college, I didn’t know what to do after college sports, so the cheapest thing to pick up was a pair of running shoes, and I had, luckily, a support system through friends that wanted to join me in doing, at that time, marathons and half marathons. [Running] served as an outlet for me socially, but also mentally and physically. It was just such a great balance.
My life with alcohol was throwing that off and started affecting, now, my biggest outlet in life and enjoyment. Some days, I would even be drunk trying to run three to eight miles on that day, which, I don’t know how I did that. It was getting to the point that, physically and mentally, I knew that I couldn’t do this. Runs were not my safe place anymore. I couldn’t use a run to clear my thoughts.
What made me stop drinking, really, was me. I was tired of battling that everyday battle. I didn’t feel good at all and the runs weren’t that magical fix anymore. So, I really knew that I was destroying myself. I was destroying every part of my life that I was enjoying or used to enjoy. The year of 2020 was the pandemic. My father passed. And I have a sober date of 5/11/2020. So it really was digging down deep and having to take care of myself to be able to have a balance anymore.
RW: And how did you actually quit drinking? What were some of the steps you took to make that happen?
SC: I felt like a piece of crap. I finally got to the point that [I felt like] no one needed me in this world, I did not belong to this world. I was the only person. So, I was going to leave this world. And I remember my husband saying, “Hey, you should try this chat line.” And I’m old, so I’m …….