Remember when running was punishment?
Remember when I hated life going up and down on the stairmaster?
Remember when exercise felt like torture I would have to endure for the rest of my life if I didn’t want to be fat?
I do. It was that way for me until I was about 27. For someone who started “working out” regularly at the age of 14, that’s a lot of years to hate it.
I remember waking up the morning after a terrible binge and forcing myself to power walk for miles because running made me feel to floppy and disgusting. The regret and out of control I felt those days was intense.
I remember the very first time I decided to use exercise as a punishment control mechanism. I was at my friend’s 13th birthday party. After almost everyone had gone to bed, I had the novel idea that I could eat more cake and ice cream.
The option to give myself more became a new thing around that age, when parents weren’t around to dictate your dessert servings. So, I got it out of the refrigerator and proceeded to eat two more huge servings. I was in a numbed haze after than and that’s when it hit me — I will work this off tomorrow. I will run 2 miles – no 3, no 4, no 5 –I will run six miles tomorrow and that will get rid of this cake and ice cream.
I was almost 14 years old and suddenly the urge to get to the gym as soon as possible was palpable. The next morning, my friend’s mom made us a breakfast of pancakes. I was terrified of them. No thanks, I said. I’ll just have skim milk.
Unaware of how unhealthy I sounded at the time, I proceeded to tell my friend’s mom that I had eaten “so much” last night and was going to the YMCA today to run six miles. She seemed concerned but I didn’t realize it until later.
This was the summer it all began. The same summer I’ve already told you about, when I went overseas and irrationally thought I was gaining weight when I wasn’t. The food, the exercise, the restriction, it all went hand in hand.
That’s why today, I value my love for running and exercise so much. I never knew there’d be a time when it wouldn’t feel like pain, when it wouldn’t be associated with my eating disorder.
I never realized I could work out to be strong, not just to burn calories. Sometimes, when I feel like I “have to” exercise, the painful memories return. It’s like returning to those days when it was punishment for the lazy, selfish, fat person I considered myself to be.
Today, I appreciate capacity to run. I am in love with how it makes me feel, how it inspires me, how cool it is to find other people who understand it too. When I don’t wake up and work out first thing, it’s like I’m missing the friend I start my day with.Coffee can never take place of an endorphin rush full of sweat.
One reason I love marathon training is because I’m NOT doing it to maintain my weight or burn calories. That’s an added bonus but…when I go on this 10+-mile runs, it’s for the love of the run, for the training I need to prepare. It’s hours on my legs that don’t have one bit to do with burning of last night’s dessert. There’s so much freedom in that for me.
I say that I’ve found a freedom in running. That is true, though it kind of scares me. I mean, what if running were taken away from me? Any other runners ever have that fear? I do.
But then I know that freedom is at my every finger tip. I just have to choose it wherever I am. If someday I can’t run, it doesn’t mean my freedom is gone — I just have to find it in another spot. Until that day comes, I’m happy having it right where it is…tucked in my Mizunos down a long stretch of road.
Running is a fantastic to way in shape but you pick up muscle strains or tears along the way. An experienced physio in sport can help you can back in shape quickly so you can find yourself exercising again. More information can be found out at one of the private hospitals in Manchester in the UK.