My friend said I should write a blog post about my running story. so here goes.For as long as I can remember I have loved running. As a child I would run to school, to the shops, anytime I had a chance to run I would. I would often try and race my dad and sister even though I could not keep up. At school I loved athletics and cross country and competed a few times. Being a runner was part of my identity. I never trained seriously or joined or club, I guess I was scared of failiure.If I didn’t set myself expectations to be good then I would never have to meet them. Sometimes I regret this but in a way it gives me the freedom to run simply for the love of running.
In March 2014 there was a festival of running in my town with races across the 5k,10k and 21k distance. I desperately wanted to run the 5k at least but at this time I was deep in an eating disorder and my parents said I had to get to a healthier weight first. I went and watched instead and was inspired by the runners determination. The atmosphere was buzzing with adrenaline and even though I wasn’t running I loved seeing people cross the finishing line and the support that people gave each other. What else struck me was that everyone was different sizes,there was no one body type. You didn’t have to be skinny to be a runner and run well. I decided that in 2015 I would be healthy enough to run.
March 2015 I ran the 5k race after a bout of food poisoning in 21 minutes. I was thrilled and wanted to enter more races. I realised I loved running more than my eating disorder and I wanted to run for the right reasons and not to lose weight.In july I ran my first 10k,the womens running 10k in 41 minutes with not much training.Long distance is the best kind of running in my opinion.Once you get past the 5k mark it is so much easier. I feel like your mind goes into this happy meditative state and you no longer feel like you are dying haha.
I started running more frequently in December 2015.In January I started running with a local club on Sundays as they did longer runs in preparation for a local half marathon/marathon I remember one time it snowed and we did 15 miles!I couldn’t believe it! Running felt amazing,natural and at this time quite easy. Its nice to run with others too.
My dad also started to get into running and we both ran a very hilly 10k race which was one of my favourite races to date. I cannot put into words what it feels like to feel powerful when running and realise you can keep going long after you feel like giving up. I think running has a lot of parallels to eating disorder recovery.
I remember being quite hungover after a party when running this race haha!
In February I got injured.Doctors said it was a torn meniscus which would take 6-8 weeks to heal if I stopped running completely. I remember being so sad and disappointed as I had been training for a half marathon in March.You kind of sometimes don’t realise what you take for granted until its gone. People would say “oh it’s just running” but any runner will tell you it is SO much more than just a workout.
I was out of running for 3 months, though I tried to run a few times which looking back probably just prolonged the healing process. I kind of lost a lot of motivation in terms of fighting against the eating disorder and began purging/binging more and more frequently.I guess I had used running to manage food/emotions/weight and now I didn’t know how. I maintained my weight mostly during these three months so only about 2 friends knew. On May the 2nd me and my dad both ran a half marathon. I wasn’t meant to run it due to not being able to train because of the injury but my knee felt fine after a 5k race the previous day and my dad said I could always pull out if I couldn’t finish and so we both ran it.It was the most amazing experience running amongst like 2000 runners and I was so happy to finish in 1hr 43 minutes. My poor dad was pretty exhausted but finished with a pretty good time too.
After this I ran three 5k/10k races however they really didn’t feel that good as I was not well physically. I really wanted to run, I loved running but it didn’t feel easy or as enjoyable anymore. I missed a few races and got asked by fellow runners why I wasn’t running.I am pissed off at the eating disorder for taking away something which I loved so much and I regret that I let it get to that point.
In July I went to the Swiss alps with my parents and the Swiss alpine festival of running was taking place. I entered the 10km and it was super tough, I have no idea how people did the 78km!That was my last race before taking a break from running.
I returned to the UK by myself on the 9th of August whilst my parents went to Poland for three weeks. My reasoning was that I wanted to be in the UK for A-Level results day.This is partially true although mostly it was because I was scared of seeing family,scared of managing food.I was just not in a place where I could manage having no control over food,timings and being around people all the time.I felt really bad for this as I didn’t see my grandparents this year and I know it meant a lot to them for me to go to Poland. If anything is a reason to recover from an eating disorder being able to spend time with family/friends is.
Binging and purging took over the rest of the summer.I wasn’t running as that would have been stupidly dangerous and I didn’t even want to run. It wouldn’t have been enjoyable or safe.To be honest I don’t remember a lot from that time.
Those three weeks that I was in the UK by myself were absolute hell and hands down the worst three weeks of my life. I know I bought it upon myself but I literally could not stop and was so out of control. I am beyond grateful to the few close friends who knew and were there for me.
In September I started to get help for my eating disorder. As I am doing well eating and weight wise I have recently started to include some runs into my week.No more than 5k but it is still a start. My fear was that when I start to run again I would have no fitness or not be able to run.
But the thing is Once a runner, always a runner.There is no better high than coming home from a run and stretching out and smiling.When you cannot do that you realise it even more.The thing is you don’t have to be out on the roads running in order to be working hard. During rest and recovery you are also working hard, just in a different way.It takes time to build up speed and fitness again but that’s ok.
When I run a half marathon or marathon in the future I hope to raise money for a charity so then it is helping a good cause too. I also want to be a good role model. No longer do I want to be the underweight runner as I think this can send out a negative message.I don’t want to be a bad example and instead show that you don’t have to be thin to run fast. I also hope that my parents don’t have to worry anymore that running will have a bad affect on my health.