Some of us view running as a form of exercise or a weight loss tool. Although running can certainly be those things, it also fuels us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Running heals all wounds, as Valerie will tell you. And her deepest wound was anorexia. Instead of helping her lose weight, running taught her to gain. It taught her to value herself, to trust the strength of her body, and to rely on the power of her mind.
Valerie's story of courage and strength will melt your heart. "Running gives me a chance to reflect on life and it brings me peace," she writes. "As a runner, I appreciate my body. It is a machine I need to fuel properly."
Valerie struggled with anorexia nervosa for five years. She was obsessed with the shape of her body, but she had not always been thin. When Valerie was 10 years old, she was chubby. "I was made fun of by the majority of my peers," she remembers. "I grew to hate my body and hate feeding my body."
"In my teenage years I started to think about nutrition and began to lose weight. At some point, weight loss through healthy eating turned into a game of restriction and self-control," Valerie says. "I lived my waking moments continually calculating how many calories I had eaten that day. I still hated my body."
Then one day Valerie registered for a 10K. "After walking a 10K with my father, I fell in love with the atmosphere of races and decided that I wanted to be a runner," recalls Valerie. "Running completely changed my life."