8 July 2014

Jog on

"I run because it makes me happy, reduces anxiety and helps my recovery...and definitely not to burn calories...."

How many times have we heard this from someone trying to recover from anorexia? I am guilty myself of spinning the line on more than one occasion. I'm not being a hypocrite here, just being honest - I've lived this 'phase' of recovery. But luckily for me and my health I called my own bullshit on running, before I wound back completely at square one. 

Yes, okay, I abused exercise during my crash, burn-out and free fall into my illness, and some people didn't, and never have. We are all different on different journeys, yeah, we know that. But I really can't get my head around just how many recovering anorexics claim that they've some how miraculously snapped out of calorie-driven, low weight, walk-anywhere-to-burn-10-calories frame of mind  into 'running brings me freedom' state of peace and tranquillity in the space of weeks. If you have, gosh, I'm all ears. 

I'm sorry, I just don't buy it. You're HONESTLY telling me that on your 5, 10 or 25k runs you don't think about calories, losing 'just a little bit' or the fact that you know the training run you're doing at your 17.5BMI is burning, oh, roughly say, 356 calories? (More if you take the route that's slightly uphill?) Lets be honest, we both know you're not eating and EXTRA 356 calories to replace that energy you've used either are you? 

It's not only the inner monologue, but the comparing and competing ones too. Correct me if I am wrong, but anorexia is a tad competitive as illnesses go, isn't it? Don't you think I'll take your 5k Color Run and raise you a Great North Run comes into it too? Your 'recovery buddy' runs a 10k and you sign up to your local half marathon? Coincidence? 

I know I do it. I know I see 'friends' post pictures of their trainers, medals and finishers tee's and think 'Sarah you lazy bitch' get your trainers on and go and beat them. Show them you are harder, faster, stronger, better...do it, you can do it. But then I shake myself. I am in recovery. Not recovered.

I am okay with my truth right now, I'm glad I found it after a dabble at running more often. Trust me,  I'd love to be out there, pounding the pavements with you, running races and you know what? When I do run, I can run. I used to run  - fast. I will also run again, October actually, but this time I won't train alone and I will be replacing every last calorie I burn with each step, I've learnt the hard way how anorexia can ruin running. Twice.

But actually, back to honesty. I know my truth right now. I know when I run I eat less, because I feel like I should. When I run, I don't replace the calories used during said run. I take too much notice of times, calories burnt, splits and what distances others' are doing too. 

Everytime I see your training run, your race day pictures or your 'I'm super-recovery girl' now posts, I don't push myself to compete with you any more. I sit back, and remind myself of my truth and hope that you listen to yours too. And listen hard, before you run straight back to the eating disorders ward, with the others who thought they could jog on with anorexia as their coach. 

NB* This isn't to say some people CAN'T run healthily and fight off the 'anorexic coach' during recovery. Some people do, but we will all know our own paths and truths. I know mine, I'm still looking for a new running coach, any offers? 


  1. Very close to home - I definitely need to re - evaluate. Thank you for your honest reflection xx

  2. FUCKING BRILLIANT. I'm guilty of this in the past, and anyone who says they aren't are lying. Running can bring freedom but also weight loss, and like you, I learnt the hard way so stopped. Not worth dying over, thanks xxx

  3. This really hit home. I went through recovery multiple times in the past five or six years, and was on the right track - for the past few years my eating has been great and in part I credit running for that, because the better I ran, the stronger I felt, and therefore I felt like I could fuel my body with whatever it needed without feeling guilty. However, a relapse at the beginning of this year (which I am still struggling with at the moment - though things are getting better) made me realise how my frame of mind with running had changed, and I'm currently running to burn those calories so that I don't feel quite so awful at the end of the day and it has made me regress into a calorie-counting exercise-mad woman again. If I miss a run now I feel like I have to deprive myself in other ways and become very aggitated. I guess the positive side of things is that I can see that this is what I am doing and know that it is wrong, but at the same time I still don't feel inclined to snap out of it yet. I'm sure I will soon though, because I know health is too important to waste. X