How Running Saved Me From My Eating Disorders - Laura's Story

28 Feb , 2021

How Running Saved Me From My Eating Disorders - Laura's Story

How Running Helped Me With My Eating Disorders

I have thought about blogging for several years, I’ve drafted my thoughts down, the highs the lows, my rambling running mind, however I’ve never put my words out there. Out there in the big wide world!

I would take a step back and think, 'Laura your passion for running will not be of much interest to others'. Then Be Defiant approached me to ask if I would be interested in writing a blog post on how running has helped me with my eating disorder recovery. I jumped at the chance, and then I sat down and thought now where do I begin... 

An Introduction To My Running Journey

Woman In Blue Running Attire Sat On A Landmark

I started running later in life, I avoided PE at school, I felt very uncomfortable in my PE clothes and would do anything to get out of class. I left school in ’99 and for the next few years I become heavily involved in the clubbing world, I even flew for a fortnight holiday to Ibiza and stayed 6 months. I came back from the white island and thankfully put my big partying antics to bed.

It wasn’t until my late twenties when I began running, and back then it was only a few miles a week, until I was approached by someone that I used to go to school with, while out running in the local park, he suggested I try the local running club.

On my 30th birthday I was a proud owner of my first pair of running trainers, I was a member in a running club and had entered my first marathon.

My Eating Disorder Story

My circle around me was happy that I had developed such a passion for running. What many didn’t know was that I was in a daily dark, consuming place with an eating disorder and to begin with running was another way for me to burn off the food I’d consumed.

From my late teens I had a very unhealthy view towards my body which became worse as I got older. When I was 20, I tried to eat as little as possible until one day something clicked and I thought I can’t carry on like this, and this is when I developed a very destructive relationship with bulimia, which has continued until quite recently.

A Woman Standing On Top of A Rock In Front Of Hills Wearing Running Shoes And Long Socks

In 2017 I became a service user at First Steps, an eating disorder charity based in Derby, this was my first step in my recovery. Over the past three years I have tried counselling, meditation, group sessions, medication, and I can honestly say it has been the most difficult journey. There has been many tears and relapses along the way, however I am now out on the other side and running has played an immense part in this. 

In all honesty my relationship with running is quite different now to even just a couple of years ago. I went through a stage where I was so fixated with speed and pace, I ran some good race times however I began to put more pressure on myself to become quicker. I thought ” I need to be lighter to run faster”... this inevitably added more fuel to the fire with my evil ED best friend. I was in a particular bad place while training for Berlin Marathon in 2015, I would restrict food intake in the week, run my long runs at the weekend, then refuel but this almost always resulted in relapse. I was purging days before the marathon when I knew that I should be fuelling, resting and preparing for the 26.2 mile race.

Berlin was such a tough run for me, I suffered for months after that marathon with various ED related physical and mental health issues.

I am now three years into my recovery journey, and I can honestly say I would be lost without running, I have a much healthier view towards my body now, our bodies are wonderful. I never appreciated what my body could do until recently.

I am no longer concerned about speedy running times, I instead enjoy running that bit slower but so much further, I know that I can now run further because my body isn’t breaking down anymore. I know that I need the fuel to enable me to run high mileage weeks. 

I channel my feelings into running, I don’t punish myself for what I have eaten or think that I have run far enough today to now treat myself to food.

I enjoy the journey, I soak up my surroundings while I am out, I appreciate every mile. I am so grateful to be able to lace up and run. 

I even stop to take photos, which is something I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing when my eyes were continually glancing down at my running watch to check pace and splits. 

Running has saved me time and time again, it has been paramount in my recovery and it still is. 

A Woman Wearing Leggings & A Sports Bra In Front Of Countryside Views

What does Eating Disorder recovery mean to me?

Recovery is knowing that there will be some days that are harder than others, but I now have healthy coping skills that I can put into practice.

Recovery is to volunteer at First Steps Eating Disorder Charity

Recovery is my own voice being louder, stronger than my eating disorder voice which is so quiet that I hardly hear it now.

Recovery is not feeling guilty for every meal I eat, to enjoy food, knowing that its fuelling me for my next running adventure.



Laura’s Instagram

First Steps ED (The ED Charity that Laura works with)

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