I’ve always had a passion for running, competing in school competitions and events from a young age. Running was something that I was good at, you know, like really good at, and it worked wonders for my confidence. When I started secondary school, I was quick to get heavily involved in athletics and cross-country events. I also keenly joined my local running club with my dad, regularly competing against other clubs in cross-country running, track running and the occasional high jump and long jump which I certainly didn’t have a natural flair for, to say the least. I loved race days; mainly because it was a guaranteed fun daddy-daughter day out with yummy picnic food and various games to keep us entertained throughout the day.
When I was growing up, I remember older girls telling me that I would eventually hate running, that I would lose any enjoyment of it but that just never really happened I guess. Actually, my love for running has just seemed to grow year on year. In the last few years or so, running has become a sort of therapy for me, giving me the time to sort things through in my head. Throughout secondary school, however, running wasn’t something I was always able to do. From about the age of thirteen to seventeen, I suffered from anorexia nervosa, and depression then followed as a result of this; as my weight plummeted and my mental health deteriorated significantly, my parents and health professionals combined, decided that I was not in a fit state to do any kind of exercise.
This fucking broke me at the time. Exercise was just so important to me; it was probably the closest I ever got to feeling freed from the constant nagging of anorexia inside my head at that time. Anorexia had taken everything that was mine; my thoughts, my body, my self-confidence. Running was the only thing I felt I still had left and I just couldn’t believe anorexia was stealing it from me too. When my weight was too low and I wasn’t cooperating with my recovery, I wasn’t allowed to run for a year or so, and fucking hell was that a hard time for me to say the least. In hindsight, however, I’m relieved I wasn’t allowed to run back then; not only would it have been dangerous for me physically but I also fear that my anorexia would have otherwise twisted running into yet another calorie-burning device which it had never been for me, nor I ever want it to be for me.
On top of that, the lack of running was definitely a big motivator for my recovery. I knew that as my weight increased, so did my chances of running again. When I was finally allowed to exercise again, I was actually slightly wary. I really doubted my ability to just simply enjoy running without the constant thought of calories and my weight and the effects on my body, but it just came back to me so naturally and effortlessly thank god.
Since my return to running since my anorexia, I haven’t competed as such, but I normally run every morning. It’s just the fucking best way to start the day, clearing my mind and setting me up for a good day ahead, I love it. It’s always my first go-to technique if I ever start to feel a bit down or am stressed with university work and it’s yet to fail me so far. Running will always make me feel better, and the routine of running every morning serves dividends for my mental health. When I was eighteen I ran my first marathon in London for ‘Mind’ charity; I raised a load of money for mental health which was wicked and raised even more awareness through my honesty and openness about my own struggles which was such an experience in itself.
Since London, I’ve run two more marathons and I plan on running one a year for the foreseeable future. Again, I love the structure and the routine of training for four months, I love feeling fit and strong in my mind and body, and it’s always bloody rewarding crossing that finish line after months of early mornings and gruelling hard work. Running for me is a blessing. It’s always been there for me through all my self-doubt and mental health issues and it undoubtedly helped me out the other side of my anorexia. I’ll always be grateful for running in my life and will never underestimate its ability to make me feel better.
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Untill next time, Reb.