Are you a Runner with Disordered Eating?

“It is estimated that three out of four American women between ages 25 and 45 practice disordered eating, according to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study.”

I am subscribed to runners world via my email and an article came through that really caught my attention, “Running on Empty: One runner discovers firsthand how easy it is to cross the line from eating smart to barely eating.”.

If 75% of women are struggling with disordered eating….we MUST talk about it (plus, I am on my Miss Representation kick).

It is easy for me to write about skittles and my workouts but subjects that can be sensitive are sometimes really hard to write about.

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Kara Bazzi was a very talented runner that ran for University of Washington that struggled with disordered eating.  Midseason she was the fastest on her team because of her weight loss.  “I was getting lighter, then faster, I saw big results.  You can run pretty well for about a year under a highly restrictive state, but then your body breaks down.” Stress fractures ended Kara’s running career.   She now works as a clinical director for an eating-disorder clinic.

“Hard workouts need to be replenished.  Healthy eating isn’t eating less.”

Yes, we can care what we eat and be careful about the foods that we put in our bodies but if you are training hard and running a good amount of miles…you simply cannot restrict.

There is a debate about racing weight and the fact that the lighter you are can mean that you will be faster but if your weight drops too low it means that your bones are being robbed of necessary nutrients.

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I learned from previous injuries that I was not adequately fueling my body for the amount of miles I was running.  I didn’t take rest days and I would go run fast double digit miles followed by teaching spin classes.  My injuries were a huge wake up call and I worked hard to get my weight back to a healthy level and get my period back.  Just recently I had a DEXA scan to show that my bone density is now in the healthy range and I will do anything and everything to stay in this healthy range.

If we are asking our bodies to run distances like 1/2 marathons and full marathons then we simply MUST refuel.   Of course the media is always telling us that we need to lose weight and be on some sort of diet but that does NOT support our level of training.

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If you are struggling with disordered eating and obsessively thinking about calories, weight, fat, restricting and losing weight, please seek help.  Talk to a doctor, reach out to your family or friends (ME:), see a therapist or nutritionist (or both) and start on the road to recovery.  Check out the National Eating Disorders website HERE for more information.

We only get one body and we need to treat it right if we want to continue to run and lead healthy, happy and productive lives.


Have you ever struggled with disordered eating?  How did you break the cycle?

Ever had a runner friend/family member experience disordered eating…how did it effect their running?  Do you think that this is a big problem?

What are your thoughts on racing weight?  Do you think that you exercise/eat super healthy for a sense of control or perfectionism?

Do you count calories?

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