To start training after alcohol addiction

Hi there, rather unpleasant to exhibit such disgraceful episode of my life, but there was a reason. Finally, I found the strength to conquer my addiction and largely due to my family’s and friends’ support, and motivational articles on AddictionResource.
I’ve been clean already for 6 months. Now I plan to start a new life with healthy habits. I’m 23 and I never trained before, but I want the sport to become an important part of my life. If somebody can advise me how to start, that would be great.
Any tips for beginners will be appreciated.


Although this is a trainer road forum I’d personally not think about training, numbers and plans etc. Get yourself a bike that fits, I’m sure you’d get help from a local bike shop, go 2nd hand if needed. If you’re planning on road riding, get some half way decent kit, you don’t have to spend a fortune. Helmet, bib shorts, jersey, base layer, shoes and socks to get you started and get outside in the fresh air. Explore new roads, build your fitness then think about what you want out of cycling. Just for fun, racing etc.

If you’re after structure then absolutely get that Trainer Road subscription because it’ll be well worth it!


After you get some miles under you and some base fitness, talk to your shop and find a local group ride. For me that was a game changer. The social aspect of riding is great. You will find many different types of group rides ranging from shorter social rides to much more aggressive weekly “race pace” rides. I would suggest a shorter social one to start, learning the basic of group/paceline riding and dynamics.

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A quick note of caution: The culture of many cycling groups involves alcohol. I’ve met a few cyclists who were in recovery and it wasn’t a big deal (nobody would pressure them if they passed on stopping at the pub or whatever). But if your recovery is recent, be aware that group riding can be a stressor.


It’s unfortunate and I completely agree. If you get strong and decide to start to race, some of the races promote beer as a “perk” to all the finishers. Seems backwards to me that a sport focused on healthy lifestyle would do this but it’s the world in which we live I suppose.

You should follow Lionel Sanders’ story. He was an addict and used triathlon to help turn his life around:

The Lion

Cycling can be an addictive sport and I would say is a healthier alternative to other forms of addiction. Use it to better yourself and it will definitely pay dividends. Buy a bike, ride it a lot. Long rides will definitely give you a lot of time to reflect and honestly can be very cleansing to your mind. I think you will enjoy this new journey. Enjoy the ride.


There was a Youtuber who used cycling to beat alcohol addiction. ‘Dark’ something, couldn’t track down the account now when I looked but if I remember it I’ll post it up.

From what I remember on an episode he made about it all, it looks like it was the numbers and technical side of cycling that hooked him. That side of things really does get addictive if you’re into it and have an addictive personality.

It would be nice to just go and get a bike and ride it around, but if you love the technical side of cycling and the structured training and all that then dive right in and let it hook you and change your world.

Good luck with sobriety. I smoked for 15 years and was always worried about having to live the rest of my life without a cigarette. Didn’t even seem possible. Like I was destined to relapse because smoking was inherent to life itself.

A lot of balls of course. After a while it’s weird to even think about having a smoke. There’s not an iota of temptation at any time. I feel sick when I smell smoke on someone.

I drank heavily too as a teenager and in my early 20s. Since around 17 to a year or two after uni. It was also like inherent to life. Inherent to socialising and enjoying yourself.

Now it’s rare for me to drink, just don’t feel like it. Wasn’t something I tried to give up, I just got bored with it and found other things I liked doing more.

Wish I was you age when I found out about structured training and road cycling. To me a bike was for commuting to work. Too expensive to really get into. Didn’t even have a helmet when I was in my 20s. Most punctures I fixed flatted again within an hour, just no clue, but now YouTube and internet etc. It’s all there for you! Jump right in, good luck!


Great job dude. My path to cycling was similar. Yes, the culture can be a bit beer heavy, but you won’t need to look far to find people who don’t drink, either for performance, recovery, or both. Cycling has become my community (very important) and my structure for life.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time in AA, and call me crazy, but cycling can work in a similar fashion. While it is not a complete substitute for working recovery, here are some examples:

-Cycling is something much bigger than me. It has taught me more than i can mention, and usually puts the ego in the right place (higher power principal)
-There are numerous opportunities to help others. Volunteer at a race, say hi to the new guy and make him feel welcome, spread the knowledge, etc.

Again, not an outright replacement for more conventional 12 step/counseling/etc, but since you mention you have a solid 6 months, perhaps you are ready to start branching out and practicing the principles.

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Best of luck to you in recovery. Random thoughts to help get started riding

  • get a bike, good shorts and helmet
  • start with platform pedals and get clipless later. There are a few threads here on starting that journey
  • Ride.
  • increase time and or miles slowly - an hour to 1.5 can be a lot.
  • take time off between rides as you get started. Every 3 days, every other, 1 back to back day over the course of time
  • Ride with other people
  • eat and drink while riding
  • don’t worry about buying everything you first year. It will come overtime
  • as your bike allows, try different types of riding. I started with parks and paths, then mountain, then road, then track, and now a lil of it all
  • Ride again
  • read a lot of cycling websites and magazines - good to give you something ‘else’ to do.

If you are thinking of using a TrainerRoad and a trainer do a low volume plan, don’t worry about missing or modifying a workout. You are here for something greater than the plan itself


First of all, you should emphasize the social aspect: find a group to ride with. In your situation, I reckon you would want some new friends with whom you have things in common other than alcohol. @bolithoa covered a lot of points here, so I won’t repeat what he wrote.

So let me focus on gear, and I start by saying that you should not overemphasize gear at this stage. But nevertheless, let me give you some starting points: as far as road bikes is concerned something like a Cannondale CAAD12 with a Tiagra groupset is a great starting point in case you want to get a new bike. If you opt for a mountain bike, get a 900-1,100 € class hard tail. You should have a look at the used market, too. Before you buy, though, make sure you know your frame size. I’d test ride a few bikes in different sizes if I were you.

It has a great frame, and you can upgrade this bike to something that you can competitively race in. Get a pair of house brand bib shorts from Wiggle, a jersey and a helmet. I also prefer to ride with gloves, but that is a matter of personal taste. You should also get shoes and clipless pedals.

And as far as trainers are concerned, I got myself a used trainer for less than 200 €, although it is completely dumb as I have a power meter on my bike (another 300 €).

If all of that sounds like a lot of money, it is, start with the bike, helmet, pedals and shoes. And then add the rest as you can afford it. And it is less money if you consider it an investment in your health.

  1. Being comfortable on a bike is important: So, a bike that fits and a bike fit will help. Two different things mind you. For example, I can fit on a 56 or a 54 but my fit to each is identical.
  2. Find a group or frequent some group rides and make some new riding friends. Finding a riding parter(s) that have similar goals is a huge motivator
  3. Goals are important. Realistic at first until you know a bit more about yourself. Something like finish XXX Granfondo in 5 hours.
  4. Equipment can get out of control expensive. You don’t need the latest and greatest bike with top shelf components. Aluminum frames these days are awesome. Shimano 105 and or SRAM Rival (both 3rd tier) components are super good and relatively cheap. People love to upgrade this and that but, in reality it’s just spending a bunch of money for not that much performance increase. Things not to worry and go cheap on are saddles, shorts/bibs and shoes. Being comfortable is the goal. The used market is huge but, being a regular at a local bike shop has it’s advantages too.
  5. “Training” following plans/structure/coaching etc…can be and is confusing at first so don’t worry about it at first. Just ride you bike a lot and have fun. Ease into the training thing when you think it’s right. You’ll make huge gains for a while by simply riding a bit.
  6. “Nutrition”…talk about overly complicated. Eat whole food, more veggie and fruits, lean meats. Cut back on simple carbs/white carbs and eating late.
  7. Be awesome to mechanics. learn from them and start investing in your own tools to be able to work on your bike. It’s therapeutic.



This is a new phase of your life and it deserves something to memorialize it.

So go bike-packing across the country for at least 1 month, or more if you can manage it.

When you get back, then start thinking about training and life-style.

Good luck dude. You’ll find that a fairly (strangely) high proportion of us who do endurance sports have had previous problems with alcohol or drugs or various types of bad life experiences. Have a look at the Slowtwitch forum as well as that is a lot of triathlon & cycling, running etc. Maybe the restless, addictive mindset lends itself to the focus and challenge and awesomeness of training to get faster and faster. You don’t need to think of yourself as an alcoholic cyclist or recovering addict or whatever for the rest of your life, just think of it all as a phase of life that you don’t do anymore and have zero interest in going back into the dark parts of. Look forward, not back. It is very possible to go the rest of your life without thinking of alcohol or ever having to drink again. I have managed for 14 years.

You’ll find cycling training addictive and fun and healthy and great in many ways. Enjoy the process of getting faster and learning more and more about it. Get the TR subscription as it really really works and riding fast is so much more fun than riding slow. Listen to all the podcasts and learn everything you can. It’s fun.
Cycling, especially, has such a rich history and culture as well as all the technical bits of bikes and going faster on them. It’s a wonderful subject to immerse yourself in. Watch the summer’s racing and gradually learn the nuances of what is going on and the epic nature of the sport’s great riders and their races. There are a lot of great books (my favourite is The Racer - by David Millar) and even some films here and there.
But just get out on your bike and ride. (And be aware that you might have a set back here and there - falling off, minor injuries, punctures, broken bike bits - none of this matters, it’s only bumps in the road)

Lastly, let your version of cycling evolve and do what works for you. Personally I Never ride in groups because i’m just not a chatty sociable person, i like my own thoughts. So don’t feel bad if you try a cycling club and hate it.

Go for it. Enjoy it!!


What an amazing community here; I couldn’t have wrote any better advise.
Congratulations on your achievements. I’ll be thinking of you the next time I’m pushing as hard as I can and feel like giving up.


First of all congrats on getting sober. I have been in your shoes before and now how it feels going through early sobriety. Cycling was and is a part of my recovery and has helped me tremendously throughout the years. If i where you i would just focus on having fun and maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle through cycling. After a couple of weeks of riding you might set a goal or register for an event. Setting a goal or registering for an event will keep you motivated with you’re training and the feeling of reaching your goal or completing an event will be priceless. Like other members have posted several endurance athletes have been where you are before. Get out and ride and interact with cyclist in you’re area and you will surely encounter cyclist that have recovered from addictions. It took me a while but after a couple of years i have met manny of them.

Im sure you’ve been told that in order to overcome addictions one has to let go of “friends” that where part of you’re addiction. Anyways, you more than anyone else knows who you should be hanging out with and who not to hang with. I found that through cycling i was able to meet tons of healthy likeminded individuals that are passionate about life and cycling. Get a bike that fits and just start pedaling, when you are ready sign up for a trainer-road account buy a smart trainer if possible and start a structured plan, before you know it you will be hooked.

Best of luck to you!

Firstly congrats on getting sober. I wish you always stay like this … As an addiction counselor I know how alcohol can spoil our health , social life as well as professional life… Few years back I worked with an organization which helped people addicted to drugs and alcohol. Therefore, I am strictly against alcohol. Because it has multiple hazardous effects on our body. No doubt drink occasionally doesn’t affect your body in a bigger sense, So, I have a humble request to all members, if anyone is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, then try to get rid of this habit asap… In a recent survey of USA, I found more than 30% of cases came from NY.

Very informative and active community. I have gone through this. Now I’m totally fine, work out daily, read self-help books like My Shovel: Karen Sue, think and grow rich, etc, spend time with my family. Now realizing life is very beautiful.

I’ve nothing to add because theres already some great advice here, but I would like to say congrats to the OP.

Well done pal.


Big congrats on identifying a problem and taking the initiative to resolve it. Beyond all the gear I recommend finding a friend or group to ride/train with. Not only will they show you the ropes, but keep you on track on days when motivation is hard to come by.

In Northwest Ohio there is an organization called Racing for Recovery. I have heard nothing but good things. It was a guy who had derailed his life on drugs and alcohol, he is now doing Ironman Triathlons. He is helping others do the same.

Congrats on your sobriety and prayers for you that it continue.

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