Eating to run, running to eat.

 

I’m a big podcast gal these days. Listen to podcasts on my run, on my commute, when I’m cooking — you name it! I’m in a niche little bubble of runner-casts with a side of Here To Make Friends (highly recommended to all of Bachelor Nation), Reply All and a podcast on grief (I know, heavy).

Thursdays are a big rollout day for the pods of casts. Runner’s World drops and so does the NEW Ali on the Run show. I save AOTR for my runs, but Runner’s World is the perfect commuting cast, so I hit play.

This week’s episode is about eating disorders, disordered eating and how closely those things orbit around the sport of running. The entire episode – which is usually separated into segments like a real TV show – was entirely dedicated to a round table discussion between these smart, sporty, brave women —  Heather Mayer Irvine, Runner’s World food and nutrition editor; Hannah McGoldrick, Runner’s World social media editor; Rachele Shculist, a two time NCAA All-American runner at Michigan State University, and Rachel Presskreischer, a program associate from the National Eating Disorders Association.

All these women’s stories are important and the implications are real. I recommend any guy or gal to take the hour (on your tempo Thursday!) to get some knowledge.

Listen to it RIGHT NOW here

This topic got me thinking about my own relationship with food, adjacent or not to, running.

I’ve been running on and off since I was a freshman in high school. Running is the pinnacle of high intensity work, with the constant movement, increased heart rate and visible effort. I had practice 5 days a week where we would run no less than 3 miles per workout. Even in my fourteen-year-old brain the miles equated calories. I clearly remember talking to my friend on the first day of indoor track, while looking at the training plan for the season, saying “You know this means we can eat whatever we want?”

I mean….yes and no.

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Top row, third from the left. Wasn’t running that day because I was injured, or just too scared of the course.

Eating “whatever you want” at any fitness level can have its repercussions health-wise, but not eating “whatever you want” – just isn’t right.

Since that time I’ve gone through the unfortunate and all too common female struggle of physical insecurities. There was a time where I had gone into a deepest low, in 2013.

It was a time when a lot of different ingredients were being added to the mix. I was one year removed from college where I blissfully drank and ate my way through good (best) times, which I regret not one morsel or drop of (TAG TEAMS AT T’s ON TUESDAYS FOREVER!!!!).  I was dabbling, but not committed, with the idea of my first half marathon, which was more intimidating than exciting. I also had a very bad influence in my life who really broke down my appearance (and running abilities) and caused a brief, but striking period of disordered eating.

But then, there was a time when a lot of different ingredients made everything better. I moved to the Upper West Side, fell in deep love with Central Park, got out of that toxic dynamic, and most importantly – signed up for a half marathon that I had every intention of completing (and DID! YEAH RnR!)

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Running and eat go together like chicken and waffles

It was since that time that I’ve had my healthiest relationship with not only food, but my body as well. I’m not perfect but I am pretty close. Does that sound cocky and crazy to you? That’s too bad. Because that’s how most of us should feel.

My body runs marathons, does burpees, crushes speed intervals (and hot wings). I don’t see food as a reward, but I always look forward to a stack of pancakes after a 10-miler. I don’t see running transactionally as a way to burn off what I’ve put in my body, but as a way to sustain strength and confidence.

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While running can be a slippery slope into disordered eating, it was a way of solace for me to order my eating.

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