I first started running towards the end of 2019. Up until that point, I had endured an unforgiving battle with an eating disorder – having left university at the age of 19 after being diagnosed with anorexia. I needed something to channel my negative thoughts into, and running soon provided that outlet.
My first run was neither successful nor fun – I took to the treadmill in loose-fitting loungewear and had no real concept of proper running form. Within 10 minutes of gentle jogging in the confines of my parents’ barn, sweat was collecting on my forehead and my breathing was heavy with unfamiliar exertion. Despite the discomfort that came with that first run, there was something about the sense of achievement that came with pushing myself that motivated me to carry on.
Within 4 months of gradual endurance building, I had signed up to my first 10K race in Manchester. Within the 2 months that followed, I was signed up to run my first half marathon. The training was by no means easy, but the physical pain of those early runs far outweighed the mental pain of an eating disorder. As my determination to outperform each new run grew, so did my want to want to fuel better for success.
Today, running is more to me than I could possibly ever have imagined when I first set foot on a treadmill 4 years ago. It is the reason I gladly set my alarm for 5:30 wake ups on a week day before work. It is the serenity of getting outdoors and logging miles before the world has woken up. It’s the sense of community, new friends, and the anticipation of RunThrough race weekends. In many ways, running it was has saved me from the all encompassing darkness of a mental illness.