Since I (sort of) established a bit about my eating disorder and my goal of recovery in the previous post, I wanted to talk about the other part of the blog title, “Running to Recovery”.
I run. A lot. I love it too. Which is ironic given that in high school I only took part in P.E. because it was mandatory- I even took my second required P.E. class online to get out of running and exercise.
In early 2012 I had a really bad bout of insomnia and the slightest inkling to go run- such a foreign feeling at the time- so I did. I was overweight, couldn’t run for but 30 seconds and figured it would exhaust me enough to sleep so at 3:00am-ish I went out for maybe 20-30 minutes and ran/walked. I hated it.
And then the next night the same thing. I, again, hated it.
It was then that I decided that even if I hated it I was going to aim to run the 5k on Thanksgiving- the Turkey Trot and see if I liked it. I continued to hate it and had an on-again off-again relationship with running. Then in the fall 2012 I started having GI issues- like such severe pain I can’t even express it in words after i ate. So I started eliminating foods to try and figure it out. When that didn’t work I went to a doctor. Long story short, they couldn’t figure it out and a year of medical drama and mystery illness flare ups, hospitalizations, etc. ensued. Ultimately I was diagnosed with a GI disorder that is said to be chronic, but thankfully, not life threatening. Well, I guess that was until it led me down the eating disorder path…
But anyway, Thanksgiving came and that Turkey Trot- yeah, that didn’t happen. I hadn’t even attempted running since the medical issues sidelined me and for at least 4 months before that because, well, I live in Florida and summer sucks. And when I woke up on Thanksgiving I felt a bit of disappointment in myself. I just thought there was no way I would be able to go out there and run with “real runners” at a 5k because I “knew” I’d be last and be made fun of. I now know the running community is much more supportive and amazing than that and that shouldn’t be a fear for anyone who runs. But, back to the story, I now had motivation to complete my goal and I had my mom drop me off about 3.5 miles from our house. I knew there was a path along a road that was marked for 3.1 miles b/c it was frequented by runners so I went out and figured if I could run the 3.1 miles in 48 minutes or less I would sign up for the Feb 2013 Disney Princess 5k (yeah, back before runDisney events sold out in 2 hours). I finished in 46:52 and was elated. I actually went home and signed up immediately.
When February arrived I was excited, we checked in at Disney and went to the expo. And that’s where my running addiction boomed. I saw all the vendors, runners of all sizes and oh my gosh ALL THE SHOPPING!!!! And in the moment with all the hype, I decided I was going to run a half marathon.
And I did. In January 2014 just less than a year after my first 5k, I ran my first half marathon at Disneyland. In February 2014, my first challenge race, the Glass Slipper Challenge (10k plus half marathon or 19.3 miles in 2 days) and on October 12, 2014 I jumped to becoming an official marathoner at THE Chicago Marathon.
So, why did I continue running? Well, shortly before the Disney 5k and just a few months after my GI issues had started my family, and myself, noticed I wasn’t getting better and I was still having major issues eating, getting sick, etc. I was hospitalized 2 times during the spring of 2013 but I always kept running and my goal of a half marathon after that first race expo and it somehow always kept me motivated to keep trying to eat, to keep trying to get better, to not give up hope. It worked too, especially through the worst of it. And, for me, it still does.
Now that this GI disease has also led me to an eating disorder, I still find that when I am going into full blown restriction and purging even the tiniest nibble of food that knowing I have a long run coming up helps me reason that I should eat. Even if I am not successful, or not very successful, I can still feel that part of me that knows I should and that is comforting.
However, it is also part of the reason I am petrified to seek help. I don’t want the doctors to take the running away and quite honestly, I know they will.
See, running is the only constant I have had, it has pulled me out from the deepest, darkest moments of my life and given me hope back when I had lost it all. It gives me time to reflect, think, plan and to see what this eating disorder is doing to me. It is on a run that I realized my fear of food- which stemmed from the GI disorder- had now morphed into something much worse. It was on a run that I decided to tell an old friend about what was going on with me. It was on a run that I decided to keep trying to eat and not give up when the doctors said this GI issue is most likely chronic. Running is more to me than just shoes, gear, and medals. It has become an outlet, a way of life and made me part of a truly amazing community of people and honestly, I know it will get me through this ED too.