Beat an eating disorder
WHAT IT TAKES TO…
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.’ tomrunsten.com