While I was in college I developed an adoration for running. I love how I feel when I move my body. I love sweating, I love the release of endorphins, and most importantly, I love that I love it. While, admittedly, there was a correlation between exercising and my eating disorder, the sport has also helped me through my recovery process. For me, running is my chance to therapeutically escape. It's the time I get to be alone with my thoughts, feelings and emotions. During my runs I process and evaluate the words and actions of others and myself as I vent (yes, I actually vent to myself). Put simply, running is me time.
Throughout the last several months I have worked hard at gaining not only the weight and physical strength but also the mental strength and endurance to run a race. The Broad Street Run was my chance to fight for what I wanted most-- my health. It was one of my main motivations to overcome obstacles, battle fears, and work towards life without ED. As I have learned, there was more to recovery than conquering fear of certain foods. There was the fear of not finding a job, of never moving out of my parents' home, of failure, of being unworthy of love, and of rejection-- all or which transposed into my runs. Once I could comfortably run 5 miles in decent time, I was terrified of adding another mile. I was insecure and afraid I couldn't do it and often struggled with my thoughts and (ir)rationalizations. But keeping that race in mind (and knowing how badly I wanted to accomplish my goals) I looked beyond the fear and ran the extra mile anyways. I struggled every week when I thought about adding another mile or increasing my pace. Self-doubt was (and still is) my worst enemy. Consequently, that insecurity transposed back to food. I underestimated how much energy I was actually expending and during the last month of training I (subconsciously) lost weight.
Last week, my team confronted me about the slight backslide, which left me in a state of shock, excruciating emotional pain, and anger. Knowing there was nothing I could do to change what happened, I learned a lot about my motivation and willingness to recover. I would not let a number on a scale prevent me from achieving my goals.
The past few months have been exciting and progressive, although, this past week has made up for the absent anger, frustration, disappointment, and guilt. Once I was told that my weight was below my healthy range I had to reconsider running the Broad Street Run. Ultimately, I decided to withdraw, just one week before the race. There was no way I could run the 10 miles without daunting feelings of guilt. With every mile passed I would have let down another family member, friend, or member of my team-- because running is more than winning a race. It signifies a personal story of growth and development because the ultimate prize is the feeling you get when you cross the finish line. There is no way I want to feel anything less than proud when I am finally able to cross that finish line for the first time.
I know there will be plenty of races for me to train for this summer, and I am thankful and blessed to have doctors, family, and friends who keep me motivated during this time. I can honestly say that this week has shown to be especially challenging. I am struggling with intense feelings of remorse, regret, and guilt but I am also trying to remain motivated to move forward. I have come a long a way since last fall and refuse to slip backwards, as I have not the smallest inclination to revert back to old habits. It is true that I am in a healthy, happy place and continue on the upward trajectory of recovery. I suppose what remains frustrating is the fact that I had neither an intention nor desire to lose any weight and was actually proud of myself for being able to withstand the mental and physical endurance to run farther and faster.
I need to write this post because I feel it is the only way I can finally accept what happened and move on. I've not only beaten a dead horse or two, but I've also hurt myself. Instead, I must use this incident simply as another experience to learn from so that I am stronger (mentally and physically) and wiser in the future.
"You have a choice. You can throw in the towel, or you can use it to wipe the sweat off of your face."