Running (in Recovery)

Personal post, trigger warning

Ever since I began recovering from my eating disorder, I’ve had a very strange relationship with exercise. A large part of my eating disorder was over exercising and using it to compensate for eating (kind of as a form of purging?) – I mostly swam, ran, and did ab workouts.

In the four years I’ve spent in recovery, I’ve cycled between periods of exercising and not exercising. This is because when I do begin exercising again, I have a bad habit of beginning to indulge in disordered eating and other disordered habits – restricting, over exercising, mostly, but also criticizing my body more.

It’s rough, because I want to be able to have a healthy relationship with exercise, because its something I’d like to incorporate into my life for reasons besides losing weight – being active, helping with my mental health, getting outside, growing stronger. It’s also another step in recovery I can take, another part of my eating disorder that I can fight against, to finally be able to exercise and not do it in a disordered way.

So, a few days ago, I decided to start walking around town. The first day that I walked, I did just that: walked. But the next day, I ran. And the day after that, I ran. Keep in mind that I have not ran in months, maybe even over a year at this point. I knew that I had to take it easy because things can go downhill for me very easily – the ED speaks, and I listen. And sadly that fucking happened.

Two days ago was my first “rest day,” or whatever it’s called. And that was fine. I didn’t go for a run, but I did end up restricting a bit and eating a salad for lunch (I hate salad). I ate some pudding later on, but not nearly as much as I normally would. But, I ate the pudding, nonetheless. The real thing that bummed me out is what happened yesterday. It was raining and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to go for a run, and suddenly the thought came into my mind: “you have to skip dinner if you can’t go for a run.”

I immediately texted one of my best friends, Gil, and opened up about it. I need my friends (at least Gil who knows about my mental health and is very understanding and patient with me) to know what is going on and call me out. I’ve also been sending Snapchats to my friends letting them know that exercising is a thing I am doing, so that this is not a secret that I can abuse. Gil pointed out that me being aware of the situation – being able to differentiate between the eating disorder and what is logical and rational – is a big deal, and definitely a good thing.

I calmed down, but then I went for a run – IN THE RAIN. It was drizzling, not down pouring, but as I was walking down the street, I realized how fucked up the situation was. I should have just stayed in, had a cup of tea, and read a book, watching the rain through my window. But somewhere inside of me, I needed to go for that run, even though the rain was cold and the clouds were dark.

I started off walking and then attempted to run – to my surprise, my ankles were on fire. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t jog. I slowed down, examined my ankles, and tried again. Same thing happened. Intense pain. I noticed this just a minute or two away from my house – I should have turned around, elevated them, and iced them – or whatever the proper way to handle injuries is. But instead, I continued on the path. I told Gil what was happening, and they said “please be gentle with yourself.”

I just said to myself, “I’ll just take it easy and walk the whole way.”

Guess who didn’t walk the whole way? Me. I ran half of it. By the time I got home, I could barely walk. I only ate soup for dinner. I woke up this morning and have been struggling to walk properly, but I needed to get up and get to work. And I am currently wondering if I will be able to run later today, or at least go for a walk.

I am mad at myself for ruining this. I was genuinely enjoying running – I was exhilarated and I felt proud of myself for being able to run and not relapse. It felt good and it made me feel good – but of course, I pushed myself too far, ended up with disordered thoughts, and now my ankles are a mess. I want to get better because I want to be able to do this. I need to be able to do this.

I need to get better. I need to be better. I need this.

Today I will try not to restrict and if I do need to go outside, I will only walk and not force myself to run this time. This disorder is exhausting.

On the plus side, I found a cute wooden bear on the way home and it is now sitting on my bookshelf with my other figurines.

Author: Melissa Martini

A 22 year old feminist writer exploring body image and eating disorder recovery through poetry and blog posts.

1 thought on “Running (in Recovery)”

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