Running is Hard but It Changed My Life

I love running for so many reasons. Mostly I love it because it gives me confidence and strength.


As some of you know, I struggled with an eating disorder for many years. Not only did I restrict my eating but I exercised excessively at times. After I committed to recovery my therapist told me that I needed to find a way to incorporate fitness into my schedule without it becoming a trigger.

A trigger is something that compels you to want to engage in disordered behavior again.

For a couple of years I would go to the gym in random spurts, but nothing ever stuck because I would always feel triggered. I knew I didn’t want to fall back into old behaviors, so I would just quit working out instead (which led to a whole different set of problems).

I didn’t think I would ever be able to exercise without being triggered until I discovered running.

Running is hard.

The harder the struggle the more glorious the triumph.

It’s so much harder than using the stationary bike or elliptical – which are the two machines I used to always use at the gym.

On the stationary bike or elliptical I would often think about the workouts I used to do; how long I would do them for, at what intensity and how many times a day.

I would think about how many calories I used to burn.

I would think about the clothes I used to fit into (stuff from the children’s section!)

I had time to think about a lot of things during those gym sessions which made them very triggering for me.

When I first started running it felt like no other workout I had ever done before.

I had no mental capacity to think about anything other than just continuing to put one foot in front of the other — because running is hard.

I didn’t think about time or calories burned, I only thought about getting better so that my next running session would be less hard.

Yesterday I ran four miles, hitting a personal record for time at that distance, and it didn’t feel that hard.

I had the mental capacity to think during my run, but I didn’t think about anything negative.

I thought about how strong running makes me feel. I thought about how far I’ve come since I started running a little over a year ago.

I distinctly remember when running 2 miles felt like the hardest thing ever. I remember the way my calves burned and how erratic my breathing was after just 10 minutes on the treadmill.

Running has helped me cross over this huge line in my life that I never thought I would. It’s helped me discover a whole new way to look at fitness and life.

running never takes more than it gives back

Running has made me a happier, healthier person both physically and mentally.

I hope it’s done the same for you.



  1. Ali @ Hit the Ground Running
    August 17, 2013 / 1:43 am

    Wow. You’ve really hit the nail on the head here. So many runners are in recovery for EDs, myself included. You’ve really captured how running makes me feel…It makes me feel strong. I appreciate what my body can do. I love my body when I’m running. Thanks for this!!

  2. Elizabeth Mehrkens
    August 18, 2013 / 11:39 pm

    Running has helped me with my disordered eating too. I find I don’t have the urge to restrict or BP. I feel more balanced and focus on health, not numbers. I’m happy to hear running has helped you so much too.

    • August 18, 2013 / 11:54 pm

      I’m sooo glad to hear that! Sometimes I don’t even look to see how many calories the treadmill says I have burned because I’m just so excited about the distance I have run. That’s something that I never would have thought I could do because I was so obsessed about all the wrong numbers.

  3. February 21, 2014 / 8:06 am

    Wow thank you for sharing this for me! It definitely helps me understand you and your love of running better. 🙂 Exercise is supposed to be a healthy thing, but too much of it is UNHEALTHY. (As you and I both know now!) Weight training has done for me what running has done for you. I’m so glad you found a way to get exercise and training back in your life without returning to old habits. 🙂

  4. February 23, 2014 / 11:15 am

    I thought I was the only runner with a past history of ED. I had a rough spell when I was younger because I gained so much weight while pregnant. I had already started exercising really hard before that but couldn’t maintain it while pregnant and started blowing up. After that I was scared and started working in overdrive and barely eating but would never try running. I did aerobic classes, and all cardio machine, but would only run/walk. It took me a few years and exhaustion to come to grips with how unhealthy it was. I guess that’s why I enjoy the challenge of running, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I am way past(too old lol) obsessing about body size. I know I am truly working as hard as I can and what else can you do right 🙂