LauraMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 25-Apr-17 16:27:22

"I'm a recovering alcoholic, but I'm also a marathoner"

14 months ago, Kathryn Blackburn was on the verge of losing her children and her life. On Sunday, she ran the London Marathon

Kathryn Blackburn

Posted on: Tue 25-Apr-17 16:27:22


Lead photo

"Just how many ‘rock bottoms’ does one person need?"

Every inspiring story on addiction and recovery generally features some reference to hitting 'rock bottom'. But what constitutes rock bottom?

Might it be when your daughter leaves home aged 15 and refuses to come back unless you stop drinking?

Might it be when the police are called to your home over concerns for your mental health and you miss being sectioned by the skin of your teeth?

Might it be when you are caught popping open a bottle of wine at 8am?

Might it even be when your brother tells you to get help or he will make sure social services are called in to safeguard your youngest child?

Just how many 'rock bottoms' does one person need?

My name is Kathryn and I'm a recovering alcoholic, with over 14 months' sober time.

As of last Sunday, I am also a marathoner.

I never admitted to myself that I had hit rock bottom. I was dragged into sobriety kicking and screaming. Even after my brother's warning, I kept missing GP appointments for blood tests. I lied about my drinking right up to the moment I turned up for the first appointment with a detox worker on 12th February 2016, having taken my last drink two days previous.

I used to spend a lot of time drinking. I drank to medicate the emotional pain of a psychologically abusive relationship. On the inside, I was a broken, depressed person willing herself to die by the bottle. On the outside, I was just about functioning - I held down a part-time job, made sure the kids were fed and clothed, did the school run and all the housework.

On the inside, I was a broken, depressed person willing herself to die by the bottle. On the outside, I was just about functioning.

'Functioning': that fine line between having it all - and it all falling apart.

I had flirted with fitness campaigns on and off for many years, even to the point of qualifying as an instructor, but each campaign failed when drinking got in the way. By February 2016, something deep down was screaming 'shit or bust, mate'.

And so I set out to fill my drinking time with something else. My eldest daughter had returned to university, my youngest daughter had left home yet again on the back of the impact of my drinking and my sobriety had bought me some time with my youngest son whilst my brother watched over me like a hawk.

Sometime in early March 2016 I started running - at first, the Couch to 5km on the treadmill. I downloaded the app and did what the lady’s voice told me to do week by week, minute by minute, easy mile by easy mile.

Given that a diet of wine and Haribo hadn't done much for my supermodel physique, I also started to watch what I was eating, but with the focus being on nourishing my broken body and soul rather than the numbers on the scale. Within six months I had dropped over 40 pounds. Some time around then, I ended up with a place to run the London Marathon.

It would be disingenuous of me to suggest I simply pulled a marathon out of the bag, because I didn't; I trained, and I trained hard. I overcame the challenges of single parenting and caring for my mum to fit as much training into school hours as possible. Whilst other marathon trainees suffered the slog of the long run on Sundays, I did mine on a Friday. I can't say my young son particularly enjoyed joining me on his bike whilst I ran, but he became a motivating influence that defied his young years.

Let's face it: I had done drinking incredibly well for many years, and so became quite determined to do marathoning equally well! But my race had become about so much more than running: this project had pretty much saved my life, put my family back together and fixed the pieces of a completely broken soul.

And so it came to pass that at about 9.45am last Sunday I found myself packed like a sardine into a red starting pen at the London Marathon. My youngest daughter posted on Facebook gushing with pride at how far her mum had come. My eldest daughter would be tracking me on the marathon app and periodically posting my progress to social media.

Never underestimate the capacity for forgiveness that is borne out of unconditional love. In the very same way we mums forgive our little darlings pretty much every error of their ways, those little darlings have the capacity to forgive back. This is something I'll never take for granted again.

(Oh, and I crossed the finish line a sober and very happy marathoner in 4 hours, 37 minutes and 12 seconds. Not bad!)

By Kathryn Blackburn

Twitter: @KBsArmy

megletthesecond Tue 25-Apr-17 16:36:28

Well done! That is seriously impressive smile .

canihaveanewname Tue 25-Apr-17 17:26:15

Well done smile

TheSnorkMaidenReturns Tue 25-Apr-17 17:32:17

Well done, very inspirational flowers.

hayli Tue 25-Apr-17 17:43:16

rarely it is that I cry. overwhelmed and beyond happy for you well done flowers

HopeClearwater Tue 25-Apr-17 18:22:21


Am married to an alcoholic (who also runs).

Good luck to you on your journey.

junebirthdaygirl Tue 25-Apr-17 18:22:45

That is a fantastic achievement. Well done to you and to your family. Very inspiring.


Brokenbutbreathing Tue 25-Apr-17 18:48:45

Incredible story, huge huge congratulations, and thank you so much for sharing x

AgentCooper Tue 25-Apr-17 18:51:26

You are awesome flowers

PickleSarnie Tue 25-Apr-17 19:11:22

Bloody well done x

PickleSarnie Tue 25-Apr-17 19:11:23

Bloody well done x

BlackDoglet Tue 25-Apr-17 19:14:15

Inspirational story. Well done you 😃

umck2014 Tue 25-Apr-17 19:22:30

Well done! This's an inspirational story. flowers

almondfinger Tue 25-Apr-17 19:22:46

Good woman, well done you. Wishing you continued sobriety and good health. x

Shockers Tue 25-Apr-17 19:26:23

I have nothing but the utmost respect for you and your family.

I also have tears in my eyes.

skislope Tue 25-Apr-17 19:29:08

Well done! That is a truly amazing achievement x

snorymcsnoreson Tue 25-Apr-17 19:32:56

Wonderful. Congratulations flowers

Alexandra87 Tue 25-Apr-17 20:20:38

Well done for all you have achieved flowers

Mammyofonlyone Tue 25-Apr-17 20:22:54

Amazing, really amazing

usernamealreadytaken Tue 25-Apr-17 20:37:25

What an amazing and wonderfully honest account. You have come so far LauraMumsnet, and you are so brave to share your story. Your eloquence in verbalising that which we all take for granted, the reciprocal capacity for forgiveness, is lovely to read. I wish you every success for your future; for sobriety, for running, and for continuing to put your family back together.

Squeegle Tue 25-Apr-17 20:43:14

Well done 👍🏻. My children's dad is a drinker too, he like you used running to help in closing the door. It is a major challenge, you must be so proud of yourself.

LuxuryWoman2017 Tue 25-Apr-17 20:44:30

Fantastic and inspiring star

ClopySow Tue 25-Apr-17 20:44:36


scoopmuckanddizzyrollytoo Tue 25-Apr-17 21:17:34

Just amazing, and you have a good brother there 😀

eyespydreams Tue 25-Apr-17 21:30:43

Oh, you! Great story, massive well done! LOVE recovering alcoholic stories.

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