By Megan Black
Earlier this year Men’s Journal featured a piece about rapper Eminem and his battle with alcoholism and prescription drug addiction. Interestingly, the Grammy-winning rapper credits running to aiding in his recovery. Eminem was logging two daily running sessions, totaling 17 miles a day to lose weight, increase endorphins and ease his chronic insomnia.
In 2007, Eminem overdosed on pills and was admitted to the hospital, tipping the scales at nearly 230 pounds. He had gained weight after years of alcohol abuse and taking Vicodin as well as Valium, leaving a hole in his stomach. To avoid severe stomachaches, he was constantly gorging on unhealthy food. Since leaving rehab and taking up running, his weight has dropped down to 149 – a whopping 80-pound weight loss!
The rapper claims, “it’s easy to understand how people replace addiction with exercise. One addiction for another but one that’s good for them. I got an addict’s brain, and when it came to running, I think I got a little carried away.” Admittedly, it was too much on his body – specifically, his hip flexors – at the beginning and he has since taken a more moderate approach by combining both cardio and strength training.
What’s so interesting about Eminem’s story is the frequency with which former addicts turn to running during rehabilitation. Upon leaving rehab, the rapper claimed that he was in desperate need to lose weight and figure out how to function soberly. This common theme has been explored in many publications and journals, all of which have found a unique aptitude that former addicts have for exercise – specifically, running. They have developed the perfect toolbox: from tolerance for mental and physical distress, stamina to single-minded focus. Former addicts have all the tools to channel their former dependence into a new and healthy lifestyle.
Men’s Journal sheds much-needed light on the mind-body connection and emotional benefits that running poses. All too often the health and fitness industry focuses solely on the aesthetic rewards that running offers (read: “How Running Will Help You Shed the Last Ten Pounds in Just One Week” or “How Running Can Get YOU a Victoria Secret Angel’s Body”). There’s no denying that the health and physical advantages that come along with running warrant attention. But just as important (if not more so) are the mental benefits of lacing up your kicks and heading out the door. While many of us may not be recovering addicts, running offers an exceptional outlet for managing mental health, and for that, Eminem’s story is extremely refreshing.
As a runner, music helps to create a mind-body connection, one that will keep you motivated enough to kick it when you’re feeling kicked. Check out the latest iRun playlist on RDIO, inspired by Eminem and tell us what tunes are you running to.