I have been wracking my brains for something to write about so I thought I would do a post about kind of my journey/thoughts on exercise/running and recovery and also being accepting of where you are in your journey.
One of the things I have struggled with is accepting that I had lost fitness due to not running and being ok with it.I stopped running completely mid August due to simply not having the strength or motivation. When I committed to recovery in September I decided to stop running until my periods had returned and my eating was more stable.To be honest it wasn’t hard for me to stop running. It was kind of a relief. For the first two months of recovery I struggled a lot with binging and gained weight really rapidly. One of my fears was that the weight gain would slow me down and that when I went back to running I wouldn’t be able to do it anymore. To me running was more than just a workout, it was a release and also a big part of my identity. But giving up running for sometime gave my body a chance to heal and also made me realise that my relationship with exercise was not entirely healthy.
I had been ill on and off since January and was working about 60/70 hrs a week in February so I didn’t really run much throughout those months. When I tried to run I simply didn’t enjoy it.I didn’t do well at races and had to stop and walk in a 5k.It was like all the passion and energy I used to have for the sport had gone.
The truth is a eating disorder puts a lot of strain on the body. Purging flushes your body of electrolytes and nutrients and you also get zapped mentally. It takes time to rebuild your strength both physical and mental. Through out recovery the body goes through so many changes. What I am learning is that you need to be patient. I am also learning to accept that I will not be the same person I was before or during my eating disorder; and that is not a bad thing. Although an eating disorder is hell recovery from it can give you a unique opportunity to grow and learn more about yourself. All clouds have a silver lining after all.
I ran a 7 mile race last Sunday and was part of me was disappointed for not placing in the top three but another part acknowledged that what is most important is going out there and trying despite fearing failure and disappointment.
It may sound silly but sometimes my head tells me I am “too fat” now to be a runner or “not good enough” and I know that is completely irrational as everyone can be a runner regardless of size. But a big part of identity for me was that people thought I was just naturally skinny due to running and not due to an eating disorder.I think the thought that thinner=faster is something athletes may struggle with, particularly long distance where it is often seen as the norm to be very lean. However being underweight and a runner is not sustainable in the long run and will just result in lack of energy, burnout and numerous health problems not to mention increased risk of injury. One of my motivations to stay a healthy weight is to be a good role model and show that you can be a healthy weight and to prove to myself you do not have to be thinner to be faster.
I may not be nowhere near as fast a runner as I was in the summer and that can be hard to accept, but I am a firm believer that each set back is a set up for an even bigger comeback. Slowly I will get my fitness back and this time I will have a healthy body and mind too. Being recovered from an eating disorder will be a far bigger achievement that a 1st place at a race.
I have a 5km race on Sunday and then a half marathon the next day,and work in between!I haven’t ran further than 12km since august so I am a bit scared. I am worried of not doing as well as last year,worried about not finishing, being a failure e.t.c but another part of me wants to let go of these fears and just enjoy the race. Regardless of what times I get this is another step in the journey to gaining fitness back and learning how to exercise in a healthy way.Sometimes you have to step back and look at the bigger picture. Will one moment in time define me?No,so it is not worth stressing over.
I have also been thinking about starting training with a coach but then I am not sure if it is worth it as I go off travelling in 9 weeks time for two months. I am also scared of training seriously due to fears of failure. One of the quotes on a race number I have is “the probability of success is difficult to estimate, but if we never search the chance of success is zero” .Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith into the unknown as you are more likely to regret the chances you didn’t take than the ones you did.
To finish off I would like to say thank you to those who read my blog! I have received some really nice comments and emails and it is great to hear some people have found some posts helpful. Hope everyone has a great weekend!