The “Perfect Runner’s Body” & Why I Stopped Pursuing It

When I decided to become a runner, I had two goals in mind: one, run very fast times, and two, have six-pack abs like the elite runners cresting the record boards. In my preteen mind, those goals went hand in hand. After all, I didn’t know of a single elite athlete who didn’t have a chiseled stomach. So, I committed to a strict training regimen and diet. I was only 13, but the math seemed simple enough: ab workouts would give me six-pack abs, which meant I would run fast like the elite runners, which meant I would be really good. Therefore: I needed to do intense ab workouts to succeed athletically.

Unfortunately, the only immediate result was a poor body image. Shortly thereafter, I developed a severe eating disorder. And, though the anorexia was spurred on by non-running-related factors, I can’t help but think that my ab obsession played a role.

As miserable as I was during that time, I was thrilled that I’d achieved my elusive dream. I finally had visible ab muscles. My stomach was one of the only things that made my happy during my eating disorder, and it was the hardest thing to let go of when I finally embraced recovery…. [Read more at Women’s Running].

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