Quit Smoking, Start Running

By | February 16, 2016

Want to Quit Smoking?

Have you tried everything to quit smoking?  Been there, done that and much much more.  In my decade or so of smoking cigarettes I have had about 30 quit attempts.  Some of them lasting days and the longest one lasting about a year and a half but I have tried everything from vaping to patches, pills and all the weird voodoo stuff you could imagine.

Running can improve quit rates drastically

Running can improve quit rates drastically

After attempting to quit smoking numerous times I realized a few things.

  • Each person will have a different experience quitting smoking.  What works for one person may not work at all for another.
  • Each time you attempt a quit, even for just 1 or 2 days you learn something new.  Think of it ask quitting school.
  • Treat quitting smoking like you are quitting heroin or a recovering alcoholic. Most people act like its not a big deal at all and end up underestimating how hard it will be to quit smoking.
  • Vaping is meant to be a temporary crutch, not a permanent solution.  check out SideEffectsOfVaping.Com
  • You will be angry, you will get mad for no reason so let everyone know ahead of time that you are quitting and it will take a good month until you level out.
  • No alcohol for 3 months at least from the initial quit date.  80% of my relapses were with drink in hand.
  • Change everything about yourself.  As a non-smoker your life will be different.  Your routines, habits, wants, needs, thinking etc.  Everything will be different.
  • Deal with smokers.  Don’t tell people not to smoke in front of you.  Let them and learn to deal with it.  You need to resist even the strongest of temptations to make it last
  • Don’t quit for someone else, that will only cause you to hide the habit.  Quit for you.
  • Wait until the time is right.  Don’t quit before finals, quit during summer break.  It will ruin your summer most likely and you will be a lonely pariah but you will live 10 more extra summers because you won’t be dead!
  • Get other habits.
  • Eat whatever you like.  Reward yourself by devouring a pizza, eating a cheesecake, drinking a 2 liter slurpee.  Whatever you eat is still better than smoking, it will help make you a bit happier for a period of time and get rid of that oral fixation you crave for a moment in time.  After the 3 month mark you can start easing yourself towards healthiness.

How did you Quit Smoking?

Myself, I quit many times.  As of now I am about a year into my most successful quit yet.  Everytime you quit smoking you learn something new, you learn a new coping technique, you learn what to expect from your body in terms of symptoms and mental state.

My previous quit attempt was my longest and most successful out of all 30 or so attempts in my life.  I ended up quitting for about a year and a half and the most valuable lesson I learned is that just like an alcoholic or heroin addict you will never have control over your habit.

When you watch shows like House of Cards and see people who smoke 1 cigarette a day in the evening you start thinking that you can do it too.  This was my downfall on my previous attempt.  I assumed that after one and a half years of smoking cessation I would be able to have just one cigarette and all would be fine.  Wow was I wrong.  Whatever happened, I woke up in the morning with a pack of cigarettes with 2 left.

The average successful quitter takes 17 attempts to quit for good

The average successful quitter takes 17 attempts to quit for good

A main thing in life and when you are really attempting to quit is not to look at every failure as a failure but rather a learning experience.  When you fail don’t learn anything from the process, then you really fail.  When you fail and learn something you are just practicing or educating yourself.  I learned that even after one and a half years of abstinence I had no power whatsoever.

I already knew how my body reacts, I already knew at what point I would become stable and in general I learned a lot after attempting so many times but that previous lesson was one that really showed how fragile all your hard work is.  It only too a few minutes to erase a year a half of hard work and I was not going to let it happen again.

This time I decided to wait a couple months before I try again.  I was really busy with work and the first month of quitting really takes a toll on you.  I set a quit date for about 3 months down the road.  After about 1 months a driver ran a stop sign and t-boned my car.  I only had 1 way insurance or basic insurance so I was left without a car until the insurance company was finished with their investigation.

After about a week or two I got a letter from the insurance company telling me I was not at fault and my rental car would be covered as the inspector comes to value my cars damage and so on.

After about 2 weeks of having the rental car, my car was deemed to be a total loss by the insurance companies appraiser.  They offered a lowball amount which is normal for a first offer but I decided I would get top value for my car.  I had a break from work coming up for about 1 month and was not in a rush to get a new car right away.   The stars seemed to align. I now had no car, where I loved to smoke, no work for the next month and there seemed to be no better time to stop smoking than now.

I set a quit date for the next day.  I have attempted quitting many times before but this time just felt right.  Since I had no car I decided to start running to get around everywhere so I downloaded Runkeeper, which is a run tracking app and also has some pre-made training programs.  I tried the 5k program.

The next day at 6 p.m I had my last cigarette and about 20 minutes later I went for a run.  I ran about 1 kilometer and started coughing uncontrollably and threw up!  How embarrassing.  I didn’t complete my recommended distance from Runkeeper that day but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.  I kept at it and within about 5 weeks I did my first 5k run in good time too.

Starting out will be rough, but gets exponentially easier within weeks

Starting out will be rough, but gets exponentially easier within weeks

I continued to sequester myself away from society for the rest of that month while I was going through my ups and downs of smoking withdrawal and I watched a lot of T.V, whenever I was angry or sad I went out for a run and coughed less and less each time.  I started to actually feel good when I went for runs instead of sick, out of breath and tired.

I ended up purchasing a stick shift car to keep my hand busy and not think about cigarettes, I spent time teaching myself how to drive that thing and still didn’t smoke through the stalling and puttering of that car.  But in the end whenever I felt like smoking, I went for a run.  I wouldn’t carry money on me in case I pass a corner store and had an urge to fall back.  I just ran.

After running every time I had the urge to smoke over and over again I now run 5 kilometers a day and 10 kilometers when its nice out, I go hiking and I am smoke free for about a year now.  I have no intention of going back to smoking and this has been the easiest quit yet.  After I got the hang of driving stick and don’t stall all the time anymore I took up the guitar.  I’m about 6 months into that now.

Bottom line, change your life, don’t give up, learn from your failures and just start running

When people ask me if I quit smoking cold turkey I tell them “No, I run”.

If you have any questions, ideas, or tips of your own let us know in the comments below!


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