Beat an eat­ing disor­der


Runner's World (UK) - - Human Race -

When an in­jury left promis­ing run­ner Tom Fair­brother flag­ging on a Kenyan train­ing camp in 2011, a fel­low run­ner re­marked that he could im­prove his PBS by los­ing some weight. Lonely and far from home, Tom was hit hard by the ca­sual com­ment; he fell into a spi­ral of binge eat­ing and vomit­ing, while main­tain­ing his pun­ish­ing train­ing rou­tine. ‘I lost a lot of mus­cle mass and rarely took rest days, which left me phys­i­cally very frail and sus­cep­ti­ble to in­jury,’ says the 28-year-old from Suf­folk.

Tom kept his bu­limia se­cret for two years, un­til a den­tist re­marked on how badly his teeth were eroded. ‘I de­cided it was time to open up to fam­ily and friends about my ill­ness,’ he says. Tom be­gan to tackle his dis­or­dered be­hav­iour and grad­u­ally re­gained his weight and con­fi­dence. Dur­ing this time he also met the woman who would be­come his girl­friend; Co­ralie is a fel­low run­ner and for­mer anorexia suf­ferer. ‘ We’ve sup­ported each other to­wards a health­ier re­la­tion­ship with food,’ he says. In Jan­uary, Tom em­barked on a chal­lenge to com­plete 10 marathons in six months, rais­ing over £2,000 for eat­ing-disor­der char­ity BEAT. ‘I wanted to high­light the fact that fit men are equally at risk of eat­ing dis­or­ders – it should not be a taboo sub­ject.’ Tom con­vinc­ingly demon­strated his re­turn to form by fin­ish­ing seven of the races in less than three hours – and win­ning four. ‘My aim was to cel­e­brate my new­found self-con­fi­dence and phys­i­cal strength and show it is pos­si­ble to re­cover – and, more im­por­tantly, to find hap­pi­ness.’ tom­run­

NOW AND THEN Tom and Co­ralie, and (inset) with Mo Farah in 2011

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