Saturday, August 22, 2009

Why I Run

I did it! I finished my race today in 55:57:4, 53rd out of 376 runners--I can't believe it! Thanks, everyone for your support, especially my hubby and my sister, who was the first to hug me as I reached the end. I have made an effort not to be overly personal on this blog, but this race was very important to me, and I wanted to share with you exactly why. So here goes:

Why I Run

I wasn’t always able to run, or at least to run well. I was always one of the last to finish running the mile in gym class, and I ended my middle school track career by falling flat on my face and breaking my nose (funny story).

Running was hard, and I just never thought I could hack it. I found other ways to be physically active and incorporate exercise into my life starting at a very young age. I was always interested in fitness and healthful eating, but it was an interest that would turn into a dangerous and consuming obsession as I developed a severe eating disorder.

From the time I was 12 until 16, I bounced back and forth between bouts of “recovery” and sickness, reaching what I presumed to be a full recuperation shortly before I left for college. I was able to maintain some semblance of normalcy through school, my wedding and first year of marriage, still turning to exercise and gym workouts as a compulsion.
Unfortunately, last fall, at the age of 24, my fa├žade of recovery began to crumble and I stepped back into highly disordered eating in order to cope.

There is no truer comparison than that of an eating disorder as an abusive companion that we call Ed. If you want to know more about who Ed is, click here. It is my experience that Ed screams constant failure and inflicts unimaginable verbal and physical abuse on his victims, unrelenting in his tenacity. There is never enough working out, calorie counting, meal planning or “trimming the fat” for Ed.

Ed sets strict rules and guidelines that must be adhered to at all times. This includes almost everything in daily life, but is especially pertinent in my case, to things like THE GYM. Ed mandates exercising for an exact amount of time or calories burned. He lives and breathes for the calorie counters on the elliptical even though he knows they may be completely inaccurate. He gives no regard for exhaustion and definitely does not tolerate any variation in his routine.

That’s where running comes in. As I entered into recovery yet again, I made the decision to get as far away from Ed’s rules as possible, and this time for good. I began with only 10 minutes of running on the treadmill. This meant ending the other part of my workout early, which made Ed madder than anything. It meant that I couldn’t complete my “allotted” time and would throw my calorie counts way out the window. I laughed in Ed’s face. Eventually, I started convincing myself to run outside INSTEAD of going to the gym some days. Only for 2 miles at first, then 3, 4, 5 and now 6.25 as I proudly completed today.

With every step it’s a slap in the face to Ed. Even though I am still “working out,” I am in all ways working against Ed. Running outside, there are no calorie counters, no set time limit. Some days I am faster and some slower. Some days I choose to run 4.5 miles and some days I choose to run 6 (and some days I choose not to run at all). There is nothing to measure other than the amazing feeling of being able feel my body move.

So today I ran. As I ran, I noticed those running along with me. Some ran past, limping, gasping, stopping, starting, coughing, flailing their arms and legs, their faces screwed up in pain or in physical exhaustion. Others glided by, evenly, calmly, easily. Some runners even had smiles on their faces, and I began to think the fight against Ed is like this. I started out slow, suffering and unsure. Today I ran, fast and powerful, pushing myself along when I needed it most. I will always be running, as I will always need to be vigilant in my recovery. But one day, I will be gliding through—with a smile on my face.

The race was called The Wasatch Woman’s Love Your Body 10k, and I liked the idea of that. Of course there was an organization that the race was benefiting, but today it just benefited me. Before, running was never a viable option because I was never able to muster the confidence to keep at it, even though it was difficult. The same part of my psyche that entertains Ed also told me that I was too fat, too lazy, too slow to run, and that I just plain couldn’t do it. But I can do this. I can run and I can beat Ed. Because no matter when I finish, I am always a step ahead of Ed.

This blog was never meant to be about the eating disorder, or focus singularly on my recovery, and it never will be. I started this blog as I began to give myself the freedom to experiment with as many different “crazy” foods and eating styles as I wanted to. After years of restriction, there is almost nothing more exciting to me than finally making the concerted effort to truly eat what I want. Whether my latest venture is simply crazy for me (avocado—yikes!), or crazy for most (how ‘bout some vinegar drink?), with each experiment, I am learning to listen to, and care for, my body, discover my true likes and dislikes and challenge myself on multiple horizons. Cause guess what? Ed told me I could never blog, either. ☺

This is blog is dedicated to my grand experiment called life, and I hope that as I begin to love food again and define the eating style and foods that I love the most, that I can inspire others to get creative with their food and try new things also. Thanks for reading, blogging, sharing, caring and all that jazz. Xoxo,


  1. I know I've said it before, but I'm ALWAYS so proud of you. I know you can (and will) kick Ed's butt. As for running . . . Waaaaahhh-hooooo! Go Emily!

  2. Hey nice post and good job on your run.

  3. I think ED should have a permanent broken nose... so punch his lights out for me ;) Take care of yourself Emily. You know that I'm always here for my big sister.

  4. Wow what am amazing story! You've come such a long way and I'm so happy to see what runnings done for you!

  5. emily! i know you never get personal on here but can i just say this post was the perfect was to do it. first off, WAHOO on that amazing time! holy speedster! and 53rd?! wow, you must be proud. you are glowing so i am sure it felt good to cross the finish line. second, thanks for sharing your trials you have had, i already loved reading your blog but i think the more you get to know a blog writer, the more you gain from their posts because you see where they are coming from. and you, my dear, have come a long way. props to that. haha, i just looked up and saw april said the same thing, we must be on to something here! congrats on the run and thanks for sharing the photos with us, you are such a cute runner :)

  6. What a great story. Congrats on your placing, that's awesome :) and how do you still look cute after running 6.2 miles?!

    Oh, and I have that same Klean Kanteen, hehe

  7. Fabulous post. I echo what the others are saying and really had no idea how far you had come! On a personal note, I can't (shouldn't) run right now. Knowing that you were able to moderate your activity and truly run for the joy of movement is a huge inspiration!

    Thank you for sharing a bit more about you and what brought you to this point today. Fabulous.

  8. Thanks for sharing your story! Great accomplishment in running and life. I love the concept of your blog and your outlook on life.

    If you have a chance, drop off your story in Runners' Lounge. We have a section for inspiration and stories and yours would be a great addition!


  9. What a great inspiration you are! Congrats to you!

  10. Emily, Thanks for sharing your story. I know that by sharing your story of life there will be many that will be touched and inspired by you! Keep on kicking ED in the Booty. You are such a wonderful person and friend.
    And way to go on the 10K!!! I'm jealous, jealous so much I'm back in the running game and hope to be doing a race soon. :)