Friday FITspiration: Overcoming an eating disorder. Finding freedom in running.
Here at runladylike.com, Fridays are all about sharing the inspiring stories of fit people who motivate all of us to be better tomorrow than we were yesterday. My Friday FITspiration series profiles runners, triathletes and casual exercisers who are making choices every day to be as healthy as they can be – in both huge ways and through simple, small victories. Their stories are about the journey of transforming from ordinary to extraordinary each and every day.
“I love getting a PR on tough, hilly courses. Everyone goes for the flat courses for a PR. I love the challenge.” ~Sarah Canney
Today I am super excited to introduce you to Sarah Canney from Run Far Girl. This awesome runner and blogger was born and raised in New Hampshire, where she lives with her husband and 2 children (aged 3 and 3 months). This active mom loves Robert Frost, hiking, cross-country skiing, basketball, sewing – and of course – running. In addition to her speedy half marathon and marathon times, what may truly be most impressive about Sarah is her journey and courage to overcome a 9-year battle with anorexia and bulimia that has helped shape her into the free, strong and purpose-driven woman she is today. Check out my interview with this inspiring runner …
How long have you been running, and what inspired you to start?
I started running when I was 16 to get faster on the basketball court. I was always the “slow kid,” and I wanted to change that. So I started running. After I graduated high school, I kept running. I became serious about it my freshman year of college and signed up for my first 5K the spring of my sophomore year. I shocked myself and came in second in my age division. That’s when I thought this could be my “thing.”
Finish this sentence: I run because ____________________.
I run because I love the open road. It seems ripe with possibility. Things that I once thought impossible become possible when I set my mind toward a goal and push myself. I love looking back and feeling amazed at what I’ve done – “I just ran there and back.” And ‘there’ is 10 miles away from my house.
What is your favorite race distance? Why? If you’re comfortable, brag about your race PRs.
I’m not sure if I have a favorite race distance, but I do have favorite races. The Maine Marathon in Portland was my first marathon and was recently my fastest (3:48) in October 2011. I think I love Maine because it was my first and is where I fell in love with running. I also love the Big Lake Half Marathon in Alton, New Hampshire, which is incredibly hilly but so beautiful. It runs along the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee, one of the most beautiful places in New Hampshire. I ran my fastest half marathon time there: 1:45 in May 2011. I love getting a PR on tough, hilly courses. Everyone goes for the flat courses for a PR. I love the challenge.
What running/racing accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am most proud of finishing the Vermont Marathon in 2011. It was a hot and humid day. I knew after mile 18 I wasn’t going to make my Boston Qualifying time, and I wanted to quit and walk off the course a dozen times. But despite all the walking and a 5-minute porta-potty stop, I made it across the finish line. I was in rough shape, but I did it.
What goal do you most want to accomplish in 2013?
My goal is to run a 3:30 marathon.
What is the hardest challenge you have had to overcome? How did you do it?
From 2000 to 2009, I struggled with anorexia and bulimia. It was a physical, emotional and spiritual roller coaster for those 9 years of my life. My friends and family were incredibly supportive, and I always fell back on the belief that I was meant to live life in freedom. It’s impossible to distill my journey into a few sentences. But I was finally able to break free when I recognized the addictive nature of the thinking that drove my destructive behavior. I’ve been “sober” now for almost four years. It’s an amazing feeling. Read more about Sarah’s journey to overcome anorexia and bulimia here.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start running or who thinks they can’t do it?
Everything you have never tried seems impossible. But the impossible becomes possible when you break it down. Start by getting out there: go for a walk. Once you are walking, pick a mailbox or tree or telephone poll and run to it. Stop and walk, then run to the next mailbox. The next time you go for a walk, pick an amount of time – 3 or 5 five minutes – and run for that length of time, walking in between until you feel ready to run again. Pretty soon, your walks will turn into runs.
What is your running mantra(s)?
Throw out everything that hinders and run the race marked out for you.
What running gear do you never run without?
A hair elastic. Seriously, if I don’t have my hair tied back, I won’t run. And probably a watch. I’m pretty low tech.
What keeps you hydrated and fueled the best (us runners are always looking for the best tips and secrets on nutrition!)?
My go-to breakfast is always Ezekiel bread toast with almond butter and an over-easy egg on top. That keeps me going until lunch. Before a race, I always have a bagel with peanut butter and Gatorade. During races and long runs, I fuel with GU gel (espresso flavor) and water. After a race, I eat anything I want.
What’s on your iPod right now?
Popular music from 2007 (that was the last time I loaded music onto it) and Hypnobirthing meditations. Like I said, I’m low tech.
Are you a morning or an evening runner? If you’re a morning person, what’s your secret to not hitting snooze?
I love running in the morning. Lately I haven’t been as good at getting out of bed early (thank you 3-year-old and 3-month old). But when I feel tempted to hit snooze, I think about seeing the sunrise and the feeling of being alone at the dawn of a new day. And if I need even more motivation, I tell myself that I’ll regret it later in the day if I don’t do it now. If neither of those strategies work, I think of my running rivals getting out of bed and running while I sleep. That one gets me up for sure. I’m pretty competitive.
What are you most passionate about? What inspires you the most in life?
I’m really passionate about helping women who struggle with eating disorders or negative body image find freedom. So often the message from health care providers and therapists is that “you will struggle for the rest of your life.” But that’s not true. There is hope and there is freedom. It’s not easy by any means, but it is possible.
What is one thing most people would be surprised to know about you?
I love making floral arrangements. I’ve done flowers for a half-dozen weddings and a few photo shoots. My work has appeared on a few popular wedding blogs too.
What are your 3 favorite running blogs or Web sites?
- NYCRunningMama.com – Michele has become a friend of mine since we were pregnant last year and due just a few days apart in September. She’s a speedy mama and so inspiring!
- RunBlogger.com – I went to a running workshop put on by Steve Larson this summer. He’s incredibly knowledgeable about running shoes and running form. His blog is so helpful.
- PaceofMe.com – Jessica knows her stuff. She’s a certified running coach and her race recaps and content are incredibly helpful.
What else should we know about you?
Hill repeats are my favorite workout. I like all things crafty: sewing, knitting, etc. I hate scary movies. I love Downtown Abbey. I try to eat Paleo most of the time. I don’t really like cross training, but I do it because I know it makes me a better runner. I was home-schooled until 8th grade. I like public speaking.
How can people connect with you?
- Blog: Runfargirl.com
- Twitter: @Run_Far_Girl
- Facebook: facebook.com/runfargirl262
- Pinterest: pinterest.com/runfargirl
- Instagram: instagram.com/runfargirl
- DailyMile: dailymile.com/people/scanney
Do you know someone who would be a great candidate for Friday FITspiration in 2013? Or do you have an inspiring story to share? Email me at email@example.com for more information.
In case you missed it, check out these recent Friday FITspiration stories:
- Friday FITspiration: The Runner Dad – Find the reason. Find the courage. Find the strength.
- The Most FITspiring Stories of 2012
Sarah’s favorite running workout is hill repeats, and she loves conquering challenging, hilly races. How do you feel about hills? Do you tackle them head-on, or avoid them like the plague? What is your favorite running/training workout?