“Training helped me build myself back up and get myself motivated again.”

These words were written by a Strides in Recovery team member, a week before the 5K that the group had been training for. After 3 months of regular walk/runs with her fellow residents at a Los Angeles addiction treatment program, she was asked how this training helped her in sobriety. The benefits of regular exercise with a group are many, and they can be different for each person.

When I first started running as a teenager, I wasn’t even thinking about building myself back up. I was already pretty healthy. I was only thinking about what I wanted to be like when I hit 40. I looked around at the adults in my life and decided that I’d rather grow up to be energetic and fit like my uncle than overweight and chronically tired like so many of the other adults in my life. What was the difference between my uncle and those other adults? Uncle Bill ran regularly. I asked him to take me along on his runs.

The more I ran, the more I realized it offered so many other benefits beyond gaining or maintaining physical health. At that time in my life, I was that kid in the class who didn’t fit in. I was alone. I was unhappy. I turned my anger and frustration inward; and it ate away at me. Running was my way out. I became part of the running community. I found a group where I fit in. I discovered an outlet for anger and frustration. I learned that running always helped those feeling melt away, and that I always felt better afterward. I felt connected and empowered. Running built me up emotionally.

The author of the quote has over a year of sobriety now and is still going strong; and she credits much of her success to exercise. When regular exercise built her back up, she found motivation. For me, running provided connection and empowerment. What can regular exercise with a group do for you


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Leslie Gold

Leslie Gold, Founder and Executive Director of Strides in Recovery Leslie is an RRCA-certified running coach who specializes in training the newly sober. As a volunteer at a residential addiction treatment program, she has coached hundreds of people in early recovery across the finish line of the Los Angeles Marathon, more than any other coach in the country. Years later, many of the participants still credit the group training and life lessons learned as critical to their long-term sobriety. Inspired by these success stories and numerous testimonials about the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual benefits of training for a challenging endurance event with the support of a team, Leslie started Strides in Recovery. The mission of this non-profit is threefold: 1) Bring running/walking-based relapse prevention programs to more recovery communities 2) Strengthen and grow the community of sober runners/walkers 3) Educate addiction treatment providers about the healing power of goal-oriented group training Prior to starting Strides in Recovery in 2018, Leslie spent three decades leading clinical and financial performance improvement projects, implementing decision support solutions, and generating analytics for hospitals and health systems across the US. She holds an MBA from UCLA and a BA from the University of Virginia. She regularly runs 40-50+ miles/week and has joyfully completed a 50K, 9 marathons, and numerous shorter distance events. She is also an avid cyclist.

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