A list of reasons of what running has given me isn’t why I’m here today but that’s a post that will stand alone one day. One thing that particularly stick out in my mind is how much running has given me a sense of control and that stems beyond just having a plan.
I spent a lot of today getting caught up on some instagram accounts I follow, blogs and other sites. It seems last week was National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) week. And while I’ve never formally been diagnosed, a lot of these stories and issues were ones I spent a lot of my younger years dealing with.
As a teenager, I was never severely underweight, but I was just below the average. For this reason I don’t think I ever stuck out, which made it so I could easily blend in with the crowd, counting my 750 calories for the day without anyone noticing. I never really talked to any professional about this but my guess is it was something I had control over. Teenage years are some of the most care-free times we might ever have in our lives but they’re also full of confusion. I think I had a combination of a desire to fit in, feeling used by friends and people I dated, always being average in sports even though it was obvious I was working harder than a lot of people who were better than me, a lot of things I didn’t exactly have control over (other than the working harder thing which might not have paid off in the short 4 years of varsity sports but I believe it has played to my advantage in the long run).
So the one thing I had was how I looked and by coming up with this “magical” 750 calorie count a day, I saw the awkward weight I had at age 15 slowly start to drop, little by little. I was able to fit into my friends clothes that were at least 4 inches shorter than me and MAN, that felt good! But inside I remember feeling hollow and tired. It was exhausting counting everything, feeling ashamed when I’d go just 20 calories over, avoiding going out to eat with family and friends, eating the same foods every day, going to bed so hungry at nights, getting excited about things like being able to see a big gap between my pants and my lower abdomen when I laid down at night, the distorted feeling of excitement as I lay on my hip bones when I was on my stomach.
My relationship with food would flip with years to follow, I’d have a good few months where I’d eat right but wouldn’t see results quick enough, so I’d limit myself, which would just make me feel terrible, which would follow with months of emotional eating. It wasn’t until about two years ago when I really started taking running (more) seriously that it’s clicked.
Running has allowed me to see the importance and value of food and a healthy eating regimen. By healthy I don’t mean a salad at every meal, a green smoothie for breakfast and eating perfect (although some days that’s not uncommon), but eating and eating ENOUGH. When I eat enough for my body I perform so much better on my runs and in races and that is the feeling I live for, that is the feeling that sticks with me for days on end, not the feeling of “oh my gosh I can fit into size 0 jeans again.”
Finishing a marathon, 50k, 50 mile and soon doing Georgia Death Race (68ish miles with 40,000ft. of elevation change)..that feeling is unlike anything. You can’t help but be proud of yourself, to feel so accomplished and to praise your body for everything it is and what it did to get you to that finish.
With the never-ending market of diet shakes, weight loss pills, all things people have come to me asking about, I try my hardest not to laugh at how ridiculous they all are, because I’ve been there, but those won’t really help you. I never push running on anyone but to me it’s such an easy way to simply see the value in food and your body and to feel what you, what we, are capable of. If we nourish, we flourish. Seems simple enough.
Whatever you’re training for in life, all I ask is that you feed yourself to that finish and then, feed yourself even more.