Saved by running
Being an overweight 40-a-day smoker and hardened drinker that managed to run just 100 meters Rory Coleman decided on January 5, 1994, to live the rest of his life to the full, nicotine- and alcohol-free.
In just three months he lost three stone in weight and ran a half-marathon, going on to complete his first full marathon later that same year.
When he ran the London Marathon in April 1995 Rory enjoyed the experience so much that he ran another marathon the following weekend, and the one after that.
24 years later the British runner still lives up to his New Year’s Resolution of 1994. The races just became longer and the terrain tougher.
Rory has completed over 1,000 marathons, participated 14 times in the challenging Marathon des Sables, and put 9 Guinness World Records on his name.
Other challenges include his 1,275 mile ‘London to Lisbon’ run for Euro 2004 (43 ultras in 43 days).
Last year when Rory was struck down with Guillain-Barré Syndrome and was paralyzed from the neck down, running saved his life again.
“I’m sure it was my running resilience and fitness that first got me walking and then onto completing a further twenty-three marathons to get me to the start line of the Robin Hood Marathon ready for the 1000th’, he says
Rory describes his life adventure with ups and downs in his book A Rebel and a Runner.
In 2013 Rory ran 28 marathons in 28 days to support the UK government’s stop-smoking campaign ‘Stoptober’.
Stoptober is a 28-day long event that’s held each October to encourage and support people to stop smoking. Public Health England created the annual campaign and continues to fund it, but it’s spread to other countries around the world as well.
The idea is that participants pledge themselves to not smoke during the 28 day period, with a mind to giving up altogether.
According to Cancer Research UK, tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the world, causing at least sixteen different types of cancer. There are a vast number of health benefits to quitting smoking, and research has shown that if you can stop for 28 days, you are five times more likely to be able to give up smoking for good. There is also evidence that ‘social quitting’ i.e dividing to quit with others, increases the chances of permanently quitting smoking. Stoptober provides the support and resources to help people do this.
During Stoptober, there is free support on offer to help people quit including stop smoking medications, Facebook groups, an app and face to face support from local stop smoking services. Since the launch of Stoptober in 2012, it has supported over one and a half million quit attempts and is the largest and most popular mass quit smoking event in the UK.
Although Stoptober is a campaign in its own right it is now part of the wider British One You program.
One You is the PHE program that helps adults across the UK to make small changes to their lifestyle that can have a big impact on their future health. In addition to encouraging people to stop smoking, One You also tackles other everyday habits and behaviors such as eating too much unhealthy food, drinking more than is recommended and not being active enough.
Stoptober encourages as many smokers as possible to prepare to quit from 1 October by taking part in the campaign and utilizing the range of free resources and support available, to make it through the 28-day smoke-free journey.
Run to Quit
Walk or Run to Quit is a Canadian 10-week training program that will help you quit smoking and will also teach you how to run 5km. Exercise has been shown to be a very successful tool when trying to quit smoking. It helps with cravings, withdrawal symptoms and weight gain. The program can be attended with live meetings at the Canadian Running Room store locations or virtually at any place.
The program deals with the smoking addiction by connecting smokers with other smokers and with non-smokers.
Jennifer Jeaurond had tried everything to kick her 23-year tobacco habit: hypnotherapy, the nicotine patch, a craving-reduction medication and even electronic cigarettes. Nothing worked… until she signed up in 2013 for a pilot study by the Canadian Cancer Society and the sporting goods retailer, the Running Room.
Attending the weekly Run to Quit sessions with other smokers made her feel not so alone as she struggled to overcome an addiction that had its roots in her first cigarette at age 14. She and several others in the class formed their own early-morning running group, motivating each other as they prepared for a 5-km race.
“You build healthy connections and therefore you don’t need that chemical hook anymore,” Jennifer said. “Because we fell in love with the sport of running, we could not keep up our habit of smoking.”
29 percent of the almost 70 participants reported not smoking for the previous 30 days at a six-month follow-up.
The pilot study was so successful that the program was continued with support of the Public Health Agency of Canada.
How to Start a Running Regimen After Quitting Smoking
Steps to Manage Quit Day
Quitting smoking: 10 ways to resist tobacco cravings
Running together to quit smoking
Founder running store and former smoker teamed up with Canadian Cancer Society
Go Sober for October if you want to give up drinking this month
Also published on Medium.