Book Review: She Was Once a Runner

I came across the book She Was Once A Runner about half a year ago and recently read it a second time. This memoir, written by an anonymous author, details a collegiate woman’s experience during her sophomore year on a Division I cross country team where she was encourage by both her coach and parents to lose weight. Additionally, she was influenced by her teammates who also dealt with eating disorders. It was interesting reading about an experience with eating disorders in an environment where it seems eating disorders were enforced on the collegiate cross country and track team. Meanwhile, my eating disorder was mostly influenced by the pressure I had on myself.
I thought the memoir was well-written. The dialogue flowed and the plot moved along at a strong pace to keep me engaged. The author remains anonymous so as not to point fingers at anyone specifically. In this way she isn’t writing the story to blame anyone in particular, but to show how this is not happening at just one college, but colleges across America. Reading a lot of online running forums left me to conclude that many people, especially other collegiate women, could easily relate to the story.

It’s an unfortunate situation, but I’m proud of this author for stepping up to the plate and exposing the ugly truth behind some collegiate distance running programs. As Camille Herron states in her recent blog entry about leaving a mark in the world with running, I feel that that NAIA (the association/division my school runs for), in exemplifying Champions of Character and striving to develop the runners for the real world, there seems to be many runners who leave the program continuing to run rather than being burnt out and injured. I do not mean to say that most Division I or II schools result in a dire outcome, but the pressure put on many of the athletes, especially to lose weight, can result in permanent damage physically and mentally. The Silence of Great Distance was also an insightful read showing the impact of pressure on women athletes and weight, especially at the Division I level.
As I continue to work on my own book on this subject, I thought it would be helpful to read all the different eating disorder and running books out there. This one was definitely a favorite, and I hope to spread the word about it because not only was this book a good read, but the topic needs to be open for discussion and awareness.
Meanwhile, I work on my experience–in the form of 421 pages at this point! There is still a lot more revision to go, but here it is all printed out:
Look at that beauty! All 421 pages printed off for further revision ...

Credit to my wonderful mom for allowing me to use a whole carton of ink (plus some?) and 400+ pages of paper.

About Rachael

Rachael Steil is a graduate from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts. Steil an author, speaker, and a recipient of the Spirit and Outstanding Runner award for the Aquinas College cross country team and has received 6th place All-American accolades in cross country as well as 7th place in the NAIA track nationals.
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11 Responses to Book Review: She Was Once a Runner

  1. Dean M says:

    Have you heard or read anything concerning male athletes and battles with eating disorders?

  2. Melanie Brender says:

    Loved the picture at the end of all of your writing so far. I know it’s a lengthy process, but PLEASE let me know when your book comes out! Proud of you, girl!

    • rachael says:

      Thanks Melanie! Ah I hope I see you sometime soon, maybe at a track meet this winter or spring? And I will definitely let you know. :) Thank you so much for the support and encouragement! Good luck to you!!

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