When Hollie reached out to me to write an article I immediately had to write something up. Though I have been a few years removed from my “demons” they will always be there. I’ll give you a little bit of background about me though.
I am a 26 year old runner. I’m 5’5 and 118 pounds. I’m now married and am holding down a full time job. I guess that is all you really need to know for the story.
It all began in college. I was a runner and had the dream of running at NCAA nationals. Though I was a D3 runner, my zone was pretty tough competition and on a cross country course you had to be running 5:50 miles. I was at the cusp of this and running 5:55 miles on difficult courses. I had been doing everything my coach wanted me to do. I had logged miles, perfected my speed work and my body felt as it should (it was sore on cue and I had fresh legs on cue). I was never underweight and at that time I weighed 125 pounds.
125 pounds is not underweight for my stature and I had very little muscle. I was a typical cross country girl. I was built like a rail or a middle school aged boy. I had a little bit of insulation but not too much. Since I was doing everything else my coach asked and not breaking through my plateau I started to diet. Not in a very restricting way but in a way to come down to the lowest possible weight for my height. (112 pounds). I would still be in the “healthy” category. I didn’t want to drop weight too quickly because I feared I would lack energy for running. I just wanted this weight at the regional competition and then I would go back up. I didn’t care about weight to look good or because I had poor body image, I wanted a lower weight to be faster. Of course I did this all behind my coaches back. I don’t know if he would have agreed but I didn’t want to rupture our relationship.
For the first few weeks it went according to plan. After about a month I was 118 and I felt stronger than ever. I also was getting faster and everything felt easier. Then in the second month I started to take everything for granted. I thought losing weight was easy and I was starting to miss eating more junk food. It wasn’t that I ever ate a lot of junk food to begin with but mentally I felt like I was missing out. I wanted more food and I began to crave everything I wasn’t eating.
One day I was at the grocery store picking up a few things and I thought the fresh baked cookies looked really good. I bought two of them and headed home. I ate them both on the way home in the car. It wasn’t a big deal at all. I was treating myself for such a great workout, treating myself because I hadn’t for a while. Just treating myself. I hadn’t avoided treats at all and treated myself a few times throughout my month of “dieting”.
But when I got home I immediately felt guilty. I felt like my world had come crashing down and I began crying hysterically. Everything had gone wrong and I wasn’t going to make it to nationals because of these cookies. My day was ruined. What happened next doesn’t even make sense to the outside eye but I went back to the grocery store. I bought a dozen cookies and a cookie cake. Roughly 3000 calories and I devoured it all in the car. I couldn’t stop myself and it was like I was addicted and someone was forcing me to eat this food.
I didn’t vomit or puke it up. I never suffered from bulimia. I suffered from binge eating disorder.
I have never had as low self esteem as the morning after and feeling bloated and asking myself what did I do? I weighed myself and weighed 126. Did I gain 8 pounds in one night? Impossible. My workout that day suffered and I couldn’t even hold a 6:30 pace on the track (which is huge considering I was able to normally hold 5:30 pace for 400 repeats). Within a few days my weight and body went back to normal and I stopped weighing myself daily. I was back at 118.
That must have been a trigger of “oh you can do this and stay at that weight”. I ended up binging 2000-5000 calories several more times during the season. I couldn’t force myself to throw up. So I sat in empty parking lots cramming as much food into my stomach until I couldn’t anymore. Once I felt sick I went to bed. It gave me the same similar high that running did.
I decided not to weigh myself the rest of the season. I felt my self esteem going downhill quickly. I felt lethargic half the time at practice. I couldn’t tell anyone. I wasn’t weighing myself because I was always bloated from binging. I figured if I did what I did my very first binging session and ate well the week before regionals I would be fine.
I would make it nationals and feel great.
I don’t know what oblivious world I was living in though. I began weighing myself during the week up to Regionals. My first weigh in I was 138. 138?! I had never weighed that much in my life. I figured it was water weight and bloat. The day of regionals I weighed 133. That doesn’t seem like a lot but I had gained 14 pounds in a month and not realized it. I had simply thought it was water weight.
Regionals came and I ran a 5:58 paced race. I missed nationals by roughly 25 places (in a 300 person field). I ran a slower pace than the very first race of the season. This was an extremely flat and fast course on a perfect day. If it had been the first races conditions I would have ran closer to 6:10.
After that race and several cries I realized I was not in control of my life. I decided I was never going to binge again but that was short lived. I binge ate off and on for 2 years until I was 25. I told no one. I lived alone. I was in a viscous cycle of binging and then dieting. I cycled weights from 120-140.
I wish I could tell you about a magical moment I had to stop. The moment came when one day I decided I was done with this aspect of my life. I wanted to get my life into control. I had said that multiple times but for some reason this was the time. So at age 25 and one month I stopped. I haven’t binged since and I never want to again.
After a few years of poor runs and even poorer self esteem resulting, I’m finally able to run and enjoy myself. I’m finally getting the personal bests that I sabotaged myself from the last few years. I am the person I want to be. Though I was never officially diagnosed with a problem, it’s obvious that I had disordered eating that led to a 3 year eating disorder.
Where am I now?
I am currently training for 5ks to redeem myself from my college days. Not a day goes by I don’t regret buying those cookies and opening up that door. A door that I could not overcome until I grew and became more confident in myself. Though I regret it, I know it helped me grow. I am a happy, successful person and can say that I have truly never been happier. I am glad I made the promise and followed through of never binging again.
I often think about eating cookies and cake but right now I fear that one cookie by myself will lead me down this path. Instead I go out to eat and get dessert with friends. When the meal is done, we leave. I haven’t been triggered since although I haven’t put myself into situations that I feel I might be triggered.
I hope no runner or person every struggles through this. Thank you for reading my story. Thank you Hollie for putting this series together and running for this cause. Every small amount of money raised counts and is used, just as every small amount of awareness is taken by someone and used. So thank you and have a Happy Holidays.
Three and a half years ago I had a meeting with my cross country coach. It was my first season as a runner and my first time running more the 20 or 30 miles weekly. It was early September of 2010 and I was enjoying running more then ever. (At least I thought…my love for running continuously grows).
Little did I know how much that meeting would change and sculpt my running mentality. It’s a running mentality that I still hold near and dear to my training. My coach at the time told me to run everyday, don’t worry about pace or distance just run. Discover something new about yourself and your training each day…Maybe you don’t like a certain running path, certain shoe, are you an arm swinger, can you solve your life issues during a simple run. Just run. Run 30 hours in 30 days. That averaged to one hour a day of easy running or 2 hours one day and off another day…I didn’t know that this was typical of a base building period. This is what people do before speed workouts. This is why people fall in love with running.
Either way I did just that and ran 30 hours in 30 days. Since I wasn’t worrying about distance or pace (and it was long before I owned a GPS watch) I didn’t get injured but I grew as a person and a runner. It really began my lifelong passion of enjoying running.
Throughout my three years of running that is what I have done. My daily runs have no exact rhyme or reason. I don’t plan to do an exact mileage. If I do 10.567 versus 10.5 who cares…and it even goes the same way about mileage. I have a goal range every week I would like to hit but nothing that makes or breaks me. I just enjoy running and racing serves as the only time I truly care about pace and time.
So how does this relate to my normal Sunday training post?
In the last week I have truly wanted to get back into running but I have lost sight of this mentality. I’m already finding myself gunho on improving my shorter distance times and gunho about becoming a better athlete. It led me to pull a muscle in my knee a week ago.
When I decided to run last Sunday in the state park near my house it was 23 degrees. Long story short my muscles never warmed up and the next morning I woke up with a throbbing knee. I thought I had either pulled, strained or torn the muscle. Since I assume all worst possible scenarios I assumed it was a tear. Then with ice, rest and salt baths…it just went away two days later. It has felt fine since but it has made me realize that I need to ease back into running and not stress about pace or time.
For the next month I am going to do something I haven’t done since of just enjoying my runs and letting my mind wonder. I’m going to consistently start logging miles and start to rebuild that base. Running is such a freeing and liberating journey and I would like to get back to that worry free journey.
Questions for you:
Do you like base building?
Are you currently being coached?
This race was exactly what I thought it would be. After two months of not doing low 6 minute paced runs or races (my last was the 8k that I broke my arm) and also driving 1200 miles, I was not expecting a PR. What I was expecting was a nice shock to my body and that is exactly what I got. I had toyed with the idea of doing a half marathon instead on Sunday, but decided that was a terrible idea since my body might not recover before the marathon. Plus, I wanted to start getting some faster miles in as my body goes into taper mode. It was actually difficult to know there was a half marathon in the area and I wasn’t doing it.
So the race itself:
I was happy to stay with a good friend of mine Laura and we got to the race in enough time to warm up together, grab our race numbers and get ready to go. It was a “low key” Atlanta race which meant there were only 200 or so people. Not my definition of low key but I was happy for lots of people. It was roughly 100 old people and 100 high schoolers. Look us oldies out of high school go.
The first mile started in an open field and we funneled down onto the course. I felt like I was really moving and didn’t feel as stiff as I thought I would. I realized rather quickly that I was pretty far in the back of the pack. I was discouraged but just mentally told myself, this is how you run and it will be like this in New York City. (5:57)
The second mile I started to pass people and felt a little but more motivated. My arm warmers had fallen over my watch so had no idea what my pace was. I just went with how I was feeling (which really isn’t anything different, I just couldn’t stare at my watch). I passed roughly 5 females during mile 2, the only time I passed females (6:09).
The third mile, I felt exactly the same. I just kept plugging away at the miles. I passed a few males and I didn’t feel like I was dying. I don’t remember anything significant about this mile just that I was running…when I plugged it into my computer I realized I ran another 6:09 mile. So it was consistent.
I saw the finish line and just powered through. I had seen three other females the entire race but had no speed or power to catch them. When I saw the clock hit over 19 minutes I was honestly a little bit upset. It was a reality check that I hadn’t been doing speed work. I finished the race in 19:15.
Thoughts of the race:
I am happy with the time after driving and no speed work but at the same time it’s hard to look at times above 19 minutes after 2 races this summer being in the 18s. I’m also disappointed with a fourth place finish but you cannot control who comes to races and these girls were faster. I fully enjoyed the race and cross country races are my absolute favorite (I just wish there were more!). I honestly felt like I could have kept a pretty similar pace for a couple more miles but I couldn’t run faster for 3. To sum it up, it’s nice to get some faster miles on my legs. I’m happy but not ecstatic with the time and I had a great time in Atlanta.
Questions for you:
- 1. What is your favorite type of race? Road, cross country, trail, trail?
- 2. Is it cold near you? I just went from 80 degrees for the last 6 months to 40 degrees. It was a shock to my body to say the least.
Putting on the Oiselle team singlet for the first time last week made me realize I was part of something bigger. After a year away from my college team and college sports I had began to miss the general team aspect of running. Though I am a member of the Tidewater Striders down in VA Beach, I’ve spent (unwillingly only 3 months in the last year actually in VA).
As most endurance sports are running is one of the most individualized sports out there. Only you can determine how fast you will cross the finish line. You can have a coach or someone pushing you but nobody controls your legs except for you.
That being said I have missed being a part of something bigger than myself. I’ve missed the team atmosphere. I’ve missed lining up with my college team in a box ready to start a race. I’ve missed prerace speeches. Every aspect of collegiate and team running I have missed. Not that every Oiselle teammate could run every race together (I know that I tend to run far more races then the average runner…) but I do know that if I ever see another teammate I can always count of them.
As someone who has been part of a team (with swimming or running), it is finally great to be part of something greater than myself. As I said running is one of the most individualized sports there is. You run the race by yourself. Only you can determine how fast you will run on a given day. You can have people pace you, give you advice, coach, ect. But when the clock starts it’s you and you alone.
But then zoom out of the scope of a road race, cross country race or any other sort of race. Yes, you are running alone but you are running in a community. You are with people also running alone but also running together. Runners are some of the most supportive people both on and off the course.
During the off season of cross country in college (ie: when I was not injured) and after college, I tended to do a lot more road races than the average person. If I lived in an area that had more races then I would still do that. I don’t race often because I expect to PR every time I race, I race because I love the running community. In VA, I loved to see and talk to my friends every weekend. Similar to a giant social gathering in college, for me running road races allowed me to catch up with people throughout the week that lived 45 minutes away.
Since I don’t do a lot of speed work and save money in other areas of my life, racing every weekend is something I love to do. I enjoy that running is such an individualized yet social community. Whether you are on a team (YAY Osielle) or you are not, you are still apart of great community.
So after putting on the Oiselle singlet last weekend and realizing that I was no longer just running by myself, I have come to realize just how much I enjoy the team aspect of running.
Questions for you:
Do you run for a team?
What is your favorite race outfit?
Lately my training has gone from care free to even more care free if that was even possible. Last week I only ran 4 times. With four weeks until my marathon that wasn’t exactly what I wanted or needed to do. It was a busy week and I let go of emotions during the week and each of my four runs was extremely productive. With one run being 21.5, my longest run to date. Not only my longest run but I felt strong during my run as well. I felt like that particular day (even though it was around 85 degrees) I could have easily finished a marathon. Not easily but I felt strong enough that I would have finished.
I’ve been all over the place with running. Before I got a stress fracture in 2011, I was a very hard routine runner. I ran exactly 1 hour (to the second) every day between a 7:00-7:15 pace. That is what I did. The closer to 7:15 the pace was, the more of a failure I felt. I was new to running and didn’t know the difference. Do that for a month or two and you get injured. My injury was a tibial stress fracture on my 21st birthday. An injury I needed to realize…that isn’t how running works and I was overtraining.
For the later half of 2011 and the rest of 2012, I began higher mileage with no speed work until May 2012. I just ran to run. I would run everyday between 8-10 miles. Gradually (by summer 2012) I grew to about 10 miles daily. I preferred to do two shorter runs versus one longer. I was training (on a pretty set plan) for my last year of college cross country. I ran a certain distance and felt good when I needed and tired when I should. For some reason though cross country was not in the cards for me (a productive season that is) and I developed a cyst in my foot that ate up my entire season.
For the rest of 2012 and 2013 I just ran higher mileage. This time I didn’t run every day. I would cross train when I felt like it. I normally kept my mileage between 70-80 since that seems doable and reasonable for me (with 1 day off at least weekly). With one day off weekly, I found I craved running and also recovered well. I managed to (knock on wood) stay injury free.
Now I’m still in that phase of running and I also know running is not my sole activity throughout the day right now either. I have other things that might get in the way of running. I have a life outside of running and I’m okay with that. It seems silly to write a post about how my life exists outside of working out or outside the internet but it’s true. I’m coming off a 60 mile week and going into a higher mileage week.
As I have continued to say each post, I’m the least stressed I have ever been. My goal race is only a month away but I am still living in the now and present. Each run has meaning to me and I’m very happy to get each one in. I don’t take running 12-15 miles daily for granted and the more I think about that the more happy I am.
The next two weeks I’ll be way more focused on running and the final two on taper. The next four weeks I am grateful to have support from friends and family that know I need to put more emphasis into quality running. That being said when I stopped stressing and worrying about my miles, I found my miles became far more quality anyways. It’s funny because I’ve been told a few times lately my running style and personality is more compared to a carefree hippie then ever. When it stops working for me, then I’ll become more structured I suppose.
Questions for you:
Do you follow a plan?
Have your workouts always been similar?
Tim and I met through running at a college cross country race. We went to neighboring schools and both ran cross country. Our first date was going on a run together and we have since run off and on together.
That brings me to the question of the hour.
Do you train with a significant other?
When we lived apart Tim and I obviously didn’t run together. I have always run the majority of my miles by myself even before I met Tim. This is partly because I’ve always had a schedule that didn’t work for others. In college I ran in the morning before class or in the middle of the day when others had class. Tim would occasionally join me in the middle of the day depending on his schedule. (He didn’t go to my school but a neighboring school). We never ran more than once or twice a week together.
When I would visit him and in the summer, we would run every single run together. You go from not seeing each other to seeing each other for a week at most…of course you are going to want to spend the most time together. Tim was (and still is) a good sport about slowing down for my pace. A reason I do enjoy running with him is that he isn’t going to push the pace to something that is uncomfortable and frustrating for me. It’s hard for me to run with someone who is constantly checking their garmin or saying oh my god this five seconds too slow/fast, ect.
I’m a very grassroots, carefree and could care less about the overall pace kind of person. When I stop improving from not caring, I might care more but right now I’m continuing to improve without aggressively keeping tabs on my pace.
Now that Tim is about done with flight school he can start running more consistently again. He has taken the last year or so off of any serious running because it’s next to impossible to with his schedule. You can say wake up at 3 am go for a run and then go to work for 12 hours…but let’s be honest it’s a lot easier to say that then do it.
Since I’ve moved down here to Texas we have been doing the majority of runs together. He is currently getting back into running shape. Right now our paces are pretty similar so it’s nice for me to not feel guilty about slowing him down. In another month, I won’t be able to say that. My pace won’t be as good for him as a 7 minute pace he would be training at.
Will we still run together occasionally? Yes. We both love running and spending time together. Will we be that twinnerz couple running and training together every second? No and I can’t imagine doing that. Both of us are really type A runners and we both know what we need to do to get better.
I can’t imagine running 80 miles weekly with anyone let alone a boyfriend or significant other. I think that would get terribly tiresome and strain even the strongest relationships. No two people are the same athlete or have the same methodology for improvement.
Questions for you:
Do you prefer to train alone or with others?
I like to run a lot of miles by myself so I can go the pace I want. That being said, I do enjoy running with others a few times a week to change things up. Being alone for that long gets really boring quickly (and it’s also part of the reason I enjoy racing so often).
Do you train with a significant other?
From the archives.
It’s always great to look back at old posts and see where I’ve come via running and life. I started this blog at the very beginning of my running career, when I first decided to run cross country in college and the summer before. When I was balancing swimming and running (both collegiately) and struggling to do so. I thought it would be pretty cool to reintroduce readers to some of my very first races. I didn’t have a lot of readers back then (do I now…who knows) but it’s pretty cool for me personally to see where I came from.
So this will be the first of a few meaningful races for me (First collegiate championship cross country race, first half marathon…I’m not sure any other oldies that stick out. Oh probably when I got my stress fracture too).
Let’s take a time travel back to November 2010 shall we?
With many college cross country races (especially championships) you get there the day before and we did. I had no idea what to expect…I had never done a race with over 300 females or a championship style running race. I had begged my swim coach to let me take a few days off from swimming and he allowed it. So that was taper. In this period of my running career, I was running about 40 miles a week. That was a lot for me and I was still really new into running. To this day I have done a hard taper for any race mainly because I have either been injured during cross country, every race I PR in isn’t a goal race…had I known Nike would turn out so well with a 2 day taper, I probably would have tapered. (No I won’t be running 10 miles before the New York City marathon…).
We arrived at the race to realize we were in box 1 (out of 40). This really meant we had to cut over the airfield in the first 400 meters a lot more then say…box 39. This was also a period before garmins really had taken off as well as (I believe) timing in the bib.
Since it’s been a few years I obviously don’t remember every single pain, sweat and emotion felt during the 6k but I do remember one simple thing that will always stick in my mind. This race is meaningful for me to one sole reason. I learned more about my pacing in this single race then most others. I took this race out too fast and I died. I died hard. I positive splitted like no tomorrow. I was riding the pain train after mile 1. I realized taking out races fast was not my thing and it helped shape every single race I do now…why? Because I have the biggest fear of dying like I did in that race.
So with that I ended my first college cross country season and began getting into serious swimming. I never regretted joining cross country (obviously) and I remember being pretty sad it was over.
Questions for you: Most memorable early sport of your choice memory?