As some of you guys may know, I’m an on-again-off-again runner. A little over three years ago I was training for my first marathon with no prior racing experience. Running that entire marathon was kind of a turning point in my life. It was proof that with the right approach I really could achieve things far beyond my imagination–until that year, the thought of running any race, let alone a marathon never crossed my mind.
I have since then done various races including 5ks, 10ks, adventure/obstacle courses, fun runs, and half marathons. I even trained for another marathon last summer only to burn out at mile 11.
One thing I was really looking forward to doing, as a runner, was a long distance relay race.
I found out about Hood to Coast before I moved to Oregon (weirdly enough) from Blonde Ponytail. I realized pretty much the second I read about it that it was something I wanted to do. So when I got the chance to join a team here in Portland, I jumped at the opportunity! Luckily my team actually got chosen to participate (apparently it’s a raffle type set up), and I was officially signed up for HTC in November. Come January we were assigned our legs, and I began working on a training plan.
Little did I know that about a month later this would happen. And that transitioning to exercising out of love, rather than hate, for my body would be a much harder, longer journey than I anticipated.
The four months between that post and now, have honestly kind of been a mess. After that post, I wasn’t really sure how to move forward. I stopped working out because I was scared I was working out for the wrong reasons. When I did eventually start running, only one or two of my runs actually brought me joy and peace of mind. I used to run because it was incredible to be able to run farther and father, faster and faster. But then, when I trained for the Portland Marathon last summer, I lost a good amount of weight (unintentionally and in a super healthy way). And then, when I started running again this spring, that weight loss was in the back of my mind on most runs. I found myself worrying about how to maximize my weight loss instead of focusing on improving my distance and pace. So instead of letting myself eat whatever I wanted/needed (as I did last summer) I was suddenly extremely worried about what I was eating again, I was restrictive, I was fueling myself properly, and I started binge-eating regularly again.
I realized I couldn’t keep running and still achieve my greater hope for this year – to have a normal relationship with food.
Yesterday, after a few weeks of avoidance, I stepped down from my Hood to Coast spot. To be honest it was hard and embarrassing and I felt like I was really inconveniencing my team. It’s one thing to step away from a race because of injury or illness, but stepping down for something like this felt (and still feels) like a lame excuse.
Earlier this year, when I told my HR representative that I’ve suffered from depression since my pre-teen years, she said something that greatly relates to this. She told me just because depression isn’t a physical disease doesn’t make it any less harmful.
I think the same thing applies here. If I were to run with a physical injury, even a mild one, odds are I would create more damage. No one would expect me to do that, and I would feel no guilt for dropping out as a result of it. If I were to continue running knowing how it affects my disordered eating, I would only exacerbate a problem that I want so badly to resolve.