Learn whether being addicted to triathlons and ultra-marathons can help you overcome your addiction to alcohol and drugs. Find out what former addicts say about replacing addiction with “healthy addiction” like athletics and see if you can apply this to yourself.

Here are the pros and cons of swapping addiction with triathlon and ultra-marathon:

See how David Clark transformed from an alcoholic to an ultra-marathon runner with one run!

“At 34 years old, weighing 320 pounds, with high blood pressure, heart problems and on the road to diabetes, I was hopelessly addicted to alcohol. Every day was a struggle to keep me from losing my sanity” says David Clark, a 40-year-old former alcoholic who successfully overcame alcoholism with the help of running.

Everything was going downhill for him because of his alcohol addiction but in the middle of his heartache and pain, he just woke up one day and decided that he wanted to just go out of the door and run. It was an ordinary morning just like the rest of the mornings when he would wake up as an alcoholic, but that day, he made a decision that changed his life. So, he saw himself dumping his booze down the drain and heading out the door to go for a run.
He recalls that running for the first time in years was actually a horrible experience because he felt that he was about to throw up and he only managed to run for a short distance. But his first time didn’t discourage him. Every day he would run a little bit more than the previous days until he realized that he was no longer craving for alcohol. He took it one day at a time.

Running helped David clear off his mind. His body also changed. Now he runs from 25 to 100 miles. He didn’t aim for 100 miles on the first day. Rather he focused one step. He stayed in that moment until he finally got his sobriety and finished long races.

David advises alcoholics not to wallow in addiction but to get out there, get moving and don’t stop until they become sober. He said that the road to recovery, like running, has high points and low points. But what’s important is that you won’t quit on yourself and you should give yourself a chance to enjoy the beauty of life once again.

Can exercise work wonders on the mind and body?

Exercise can help people trying to regain their strength and energy. Running clears your mind as well. You can think about all sorts of nice things, and take it as an opportunity to have wonderful reflections.
When you are running you’ll realize that you can rarely think about anything negative. It’s probably because your body is on the move, you’re aiming for a distance and your mind is benefitting as well as your body. Cycling builds strength and shapes of your lower body,
swimming sculpts your upper body and running strengthens and develops your muscles.

Training for the triathlon and ultra-marathon also means that you don’t accept lower standards for your fitness. You don’t settle for a fat belly, aching bones, and muscles when you move around, or a sick body. You do your training every day until you feel energetic and powerful.

Triathlons have one of the healthiest and fittest bodies in the world! They also look and feel younger than the rest. Just imagine how a 60 something-year-old man can join the race when some teenagers can’t even
do a 200-meter sprint.

If you want to join triathlon or ultra-marathon you have to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet like fruits, vegetables, lean meat, and fish. You avoid alcohol, drugs and sleeping late at night. You must not overeat or spoil yourself in lots of less-than-nutritious foods because you will feel dull and tired during your workouts if you do so.
If you are an addict, you tend to neglect your body because everything revolves around our drug use. You see less of yourself and more on drugs. But the moment you swap your addiction for a healthy habit like doing ultra-marathon or triathlon, you would wake up realizing that you’ve missed a lot when you were an addict.

How this suicidal addict turned to an Ironman with one decision

“The same tenacity that I put into destroying myself I just needed to switch it into repairing myself,” says Todd Crandall, a former drug addict turned into a triathlon athlete who competes at the Ironman Boston. Todd’s emotional issues started when his mother, a drug addict committed suicide when he was three years old. From then on he felt that he was not good enough and he hated himself so much though he couldn’t understand why he felt that way.

Todd started drinking alcohol at the age of thirteen. When he turned sixteen he was already using cocaine. His first time using it in the school’s parking lot changed his life. He thought that what he felt when using cocaine was what he was looking for in his life. So, by the time that Todd reached senior high and he was already considered as one of the best hockey players in his team, the addiction started destroying him.

Todd used cocaine everywhere-when he was playing and while riding on a school bus. Soon after, he got kicked out of the team and began a long descent to using cocaine, crack heroin and alcohol. He got jailed, he was homeless and he thought of committing suicide.

In 1991 his dad confronted him and asked him to go to rehab. He didn’t want to give up drugs so he told his dad that if he’s going to get the heroin out of him he’s going to kill him. After hours of talking to him in tears, his dad wasn’t able to persuade him.

Todd’s turning point came after two years when he was arrested for DUI for the third time. He was holding his beer and he finally realized that he doesn’t want his addiction anymore. He said, “That’s it. It’s over. I’m going to put my life back together”. After that, he attended recovery meetings, went back to playing hockey and finally found a sport which is as intense as his addiction-Triathlon.

On November 16, 1999, Todd Crandall first made it to the finish line. Yes, from a suicidal alcoholic and drug addict to Ironman. From that time, he continued joining the Ironman. It was a huge leap from helplessness and despair to actually swimming 2.4 miles, riding on a bike at 112 miles and doing a 26.2 marathon run for the Ironman. It may sound like an addiction for a purpose, but for whatever it’s worth, swapping his addiction for a triathlon is an inspiration.


Triathlon and ultra-marathon are not for everyone. Some drug addicts need to undergo detox to deal with withdrawal pains. Others need medical help especially when complications of drug use like heart disease, kidney disorder, and other conditions already hit them.

Many drug addicts and alcoholics also need time to heal emotionally and physically. That’s why drug rehabs often introduce exercise gradually. It’s because exercising after long periods of inactivity, can make your whole body sore the next day.

Drug addicts with frail bodies must start with light exercise. Moderate exercise also works best for those who had been into addiction. Their body function and processes had been affected by toxic substances from years of using drugs and alcohol. So it will be wise to introduce an exercise regimen that their body can gradually accept and adapt for the long haul until they are back in shape.

Important note: Swapping addiction for another addiction is not advisable. People need to get treated from the inside, deal with the root causes of addiction and learn how to live a sober life, instead of just swapping their addiction to drugs and alcohol with another addiction. That’s why HIR goes to the root of addiction and carry on with their individualized treatment programs.

The HIR Way

Some people think that becoming an athlete after recovery means that you haven’t overcome addictions yet. But, in truth, it is one of the many ways to maintain your sobriety and proof that you are already physically and emotionally fit to stay sober.

If you want to overcome addiction and get back in shape, you can attend a recovery program that is especially suited to your physical needs. Hawaii Island Recovery offers programs that will help you deal with the stress in your life and get rid of the emotional baggage that’s been causing your addiction and the struggles that you’re dealing with because of using them.

HIR believes in Physical checkups first before doing exercise. Remember that drug addiction results to a great amount of self-deprivation and later malnutrition. The addiction treatment team shall consider your health first and slowly introduce a suitable exercise program for you, along with an individualized program for your addiction.
“I want to tell you about a very special program here. It’s special in a variety of ways. We can individualize our program because we only have 8 clients and 8 beds. We can pay attention to what the person’s special needs are”, says John Hibscher, the Clinical Director of Hawaii Island Recovery.

In the same interview, Abby, a former HIR client who has now achieved her
sobriety with the help of HIR treatment program says, “One positive thing about HIR is that it’s more of a private intimate setting. You have more personalized individual therapy and they get to focus on you”. HIR offers Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or EMDR to help clients discover, face up and overcome their traumatic situations.

HIR has topnotch facilities in this breath-taking and relaxing environment which is conducive to physical and psychological healing. This premier residential rehab has a spectacular oceanfront, surrounded by lush mountains. HIR is carefully nestled at the beautiful island of Kailua-Kona, a lively seaside town which is located at the center of Kona. It is home to important historic sites, shop-till-you-drop shopping, and mouthwatering dining.

Alcohol Addiction Rehab

This addiction treatment rehab provides individualized addiction treatment plans, medically supervised detox and withdrawal and anxiety treatment. HIR has individual and
group therapy, holistic therapy and life-changing experiential therapy with wild dolphins.

Call us at (866) 491-8009 so we can help you find the most suitable program for your immediate recovery from addiction!