To enter the Simplyhealth Great Women's Run click here

Alison MacVicar is recovering from an illness that has blighted her life for six years, and says running has helped to put her on the right path.

The 20-year-old full time student from Oban, has battled anorexia from the age of 14. At its worst, at age 17, she suffered from severe bradycardia, (a slow heart rate) and reported a resting heart rate of 35 beats per minute. Most people have a heart rate of between 60-100 beats per minute. In extreme cases, a slow heart rate can be life-threatening, as it means the heart is not pumping enough blood to meet the body's needs. Alison still receives regular check-ups for her heart.

Shinty player Alison has always been a runner. She runs to stay fit to compete with Lochaber Ladies shinty team. As well as running and shinty, Alison competes in triathlons, which has contributed to her physical strength.

She said, “Running complimented the demands of shinty and swimming in triathlons helped my physical strength. Shinty has always been my main passion. The girls in the team have really encouraged my recovery as they are all so strong and athletic. They are a huge inspiration for me”.

Alison has now signed up to run in the Simplyhealth Great Women's Run, a 10k which takes place in Glasgow on Sunday 4th June. Alison will be running to raise funds and awareness for the charity Beat (beating eating disorders). Running gives Alison a sense of freedom, but it wasn't always like that.

She said, “Running simultaneously aggravated my eating disorder and helped towards my recovery. In the depths of anorexia, running became an addiction, chore and obsession with no enjoyment”.

Now she only runs twice a week and loves taking part in the Oban Park Run. And as her recovery progressed, Alison's times improved, she has a personal best of 20.50 for a 5k and 42.40 for a 10k.

While Alison says she's not fully recovered from anorexia, she's about 80% there.

She said, “Anorexia has haunted three family members and myself for too long and unfortunately snatched too many opportunities. Although I am not fully recovered, I am the healthiest and happiest I have been and that is through the support of Beat, family, friends, exercise, challenging old habits and embarking on a sports degree to take me out of my comfort zone.”.

Alison doesn't monitor her weight anymore. She said, “I choose not to know the number on the scales. Only my doctor knows. That number on the scales used to define my every move and emotion and I firmly believe that if you want to fully recover then you shouldn't weigh yourself. Chuck out those scales and your eating disorder with it”.

Another motivation for Alison is running for charity. Last October she ran in the Aviemore 10k and raised money for Beat. As well as raising money for Beat this year, she also hopes to fundraise for Mesothelioma, as her Grandfather died from this illness. 

Beat is the UK's eating disorder charity, who were founded in 1989 as the Eating Disorders Association. They aim to change preconceived ideas about anorexia, remove stigma, and provide support to sufferers and their families. 

Alison said, “The stigma surrounding mental health still prevails however with increased acceptance and education, people are beginning to treat it equally to a physical illness. Eating disorders are not about image or vanity and can affect anyone. At the Aviemore 10k I felt like I represented all past and current sufferers alike and encouraged them not to be ashamed of their illness. A mental illness is never a choice. I was astounded by the amount of other runners who recognised the Beat vest I was wearing. I felt privileged to promote such a helpful, life saving and supportive charity”.

Alison continued, “This was a cold, dark time however I'm determined to make the future a happier and healthier place. I realised that running offered me freedom and it certainly increased my body confidence. I want to help others overcome and manage this illness. Never give up, always remember the reason you started to recover. To live, to aspire, to smile”.

The Simplyhealth Great Women's Run is the largest women only running event in Scotland, it takes place in Glasgow on Sunday June 4th.

The 10K route starts at Glasgow's Kelvingrove Park and runs through the heart of the city's west end, passing iconic landmarks such as The Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow University, The Science Centre and The SSE Hydro. All along the way there will be bands, pipers and dancers and all finishers receive a goody bag, which includes a medal, technical T-shirt and water. 

To enter the Simplyhealth Great Women's Run click here