How Running is Helping Me Quit Smoking

Benya Clark
3 min readApr 2, 2019
Photo by Jenny Hill on Unsplash

Running and smoking cigarettes — I’d be hard-pressed to find two more diametrically opposed habits if I tried.

And yet, for several years, I’ve done both.

I’ve been an on-and-off smoker for over a decade, and an on-and-off runner for the past few years. Normally these habits haven’t overlapped, but occasionally they have, even for months at a time.

I’ve found myself coming home from a long run, my heart pounding, only to immediately light a cigarette. I’ve stood on the porch sucking down smoke and nicotine as the sweat from my run was still dripping to the ground.

I don’t have the words to describe how foolish I felt. (At least I never smoked during a run.)

These habits both represent what I want to change the most about myself, but in opposite directions. I’ve struggled for a long time to give up cigarettes, while at the same time working hard to run consistently.

I’m proud to say that lately, I’ve been experiencing success in both directions — it’s been nearly two months since I stopped smoking, and I’ve been running fairly regularly for about a year now. (Although, I did have to take a month and a half of that off for an injured leg.)

Don’t Use Bad Habits as Excuses



Benya Clark

I’m a lawyer turned writer from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, and more. Subscribe to my weekly newsletter at