Running helps Austin man through drug addiction – Spectrum News

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Like so many others, Shawn Livingston’s life changed on Sept. 11, 2001. He watched on TV what happened that day and it altered his path in life.
“I kind of knew at that moment I was just floundering in college. It just wasn’t for me,” says Livingston.” So, I decided to enlist very shortly after that and ship off to boot camp.”
Livingston joined the U.S. Air Force Reserve, but while training one day, he hurt his back. He tried to push through the injury, but one morning woke up and couldn’t sit up in bed. He said the doctors at the time did what they thought was best and gave him painkillers.
“I took them and it was like a Band-Aid. It masked the pain,” says Livingston. “I’d keep refilling the scripts and running back out there and it was just beat down, beat down, beat down. Towards the end of the tour, it was to a point where I could barely move.”
When Livingston returned from Iraq, he went through withdrawal from the painkillers.
“It’s pretty undescribable the feeling you get when you are in withdrawal from these pills,” says Livingston. “You want to jump out of your skin. Words can’t even do it justice.”
He got to a point where he felt like he needed medication just to function in daily life. But when he couldn’t get pills anymore, he turned to heroin. 
“It was as normal for me to wake up and shoot heroin as it is for everybody else to wake up and brush their teeth,” says Livingston. 
His addiction to drugs led him to getting arrested and eventually serving time in jail. It was there he decided he wanted to make some changes in his life.
“I just remember being in county jail, getting ready to go to prison and saying I don’t belong here. These were not my people,” says Livingston.
As part of his hopes for recovery, Livingston signed into a 6-month treatment center in Austin. It was in Austin, where this Ohio native found a running group and a new outlet in his life.
“One of the most powerful groups of people I’ve ever met in my life in the running community,” says Livingston. “It all saved my life.”
As he got more and more into running and enjoyed it, Livingston gave trail racing a try. He found a local woman to train him and they set off on testing his ability.
He first ran a 10K and then a 30K, upping the distance as time went on. Not only did Livingston enjoy running, he found out he was good at it as well and kept pushing himself. He has now competed in 100-mile races and qualified for some of the biggest events, like the Western States Endurance Run. 
“I just sit there flabbergasted, like how did this happen to me? How could all this bad stuff end up having this positive effect in my life,” says Livingston. “I’m very sorry for the people that I hurt in the process, my family and friends. But I definitely know now that I had to go through everything that I did to be who I am today.”
Livingston is not only competing in trail races but also training others in the gym and works helping folks with drug problems. His story was also turned into a documentary called "100 Miles to Redemption."


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