A Runner’s Life Without Running in Eating Disorder Recovery

I still love to run. I often think about how fast I used to be–how wonderful it felt to float across the ground, how much I enjoyed the freedom, how excited I felt to race, what a joy it was to help out my teammates while racing. I know I just can’t go back to it for a while. Even when I do try interval training once in a while or simply go for a run, if I know the distance or time I get down on myself, or get so competitive that I think about how I could restrict again or purge and how good it would feel to reach the top.

Whenever these thoughts flood back into my mind, I remind myself of where I am in my life: happy and fulfilled at last. As much as running adds happiness to my life, it also has an element of madness, and I do very well without running, as I’ve come to find out.

I will always miss running as fast as I used to. I will always yearn for that euphoric joy. But I know that when I ran that fast, it was really the only area of my life that brought me happiness. At this point, it is too risky to be competitive, and simply exercising too much causes the eating disorder that lurks beneath to surface.

Benefits of Low-Key Lifestyle

A life without running does have its perks. I’m not as hungry as often (since I’m not burning as many calories), which makes me less self-conscious about how much food I eat in front of others. I don’t binge as often either because I can go longer periods without eating and not feel ravenous. I also have embraced my body a lot more because I no longer solely view it as an instrument for running fast.

friends

I find myself more daring–I can stray away from my previously strict schedule, I can participate in activities that may risk a little injury (even the smallest things like a blister or scratch on my foot caused great distress for me in the past because it might mean a day off from running), and I allow myself to eat other foods because I don’t feel the pressure to eat “purely,” or eat as few calories as possible. And even though I allow myself to be much more fluid with my food choices, I do not do it in an unhealthy way–I eat some treats without going over the top.

No one tells you how much grieving there is in loss, and I have certainly had a long grieving period. I am still sad over the loss of running, but the tradeoff–having my life back–is well worth it. Running will always feel like a long-lost friend, but I know there is potential for it to return to me (healthfully) in the future.

2 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I stumbled upon this blog randomly. I am an alumna who spent the years at Aquinas in recovery from anorexia. I just wanted to let you know that I found this blog to be very brave and I wish you success in your recovery.

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