Alaska running phenom Allie Ostrander opens up about eating disorder

Allie Ostrander (Photo courtesy of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame)

One of the best distance runners to come out of Alaska, Allie Ostrander, has revealed publicly that she has been struggling with an eating disorder.

The 24-year-old Kenai Central High School graduate said in a roughly 16-minute video posted to YouTube Friday she is about five weeks into a program that requires her to spend 10 hours a day at a treatment facility. Ostrander said she’s now putting her recovery ahead of training, including for the upcoming track and field Olympic trials.

A sometimes tearful Ostander said in the video that it was difficult to go public.

“I hate — hate — that I have contributed to the toxic culture of an obsession with leanness and thinness and body size and appearance over ability, and I am just so frustrated with myself. Because I want to be a good example, and I don’t want the next generation to feel the way that I feel,” Ostrander said.

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The decision to seek help was not entirely her own, Ostrander said. Her coaches with USA Track and Field and executives at her sponsor, Brooks Running — who signed her as a professional runner in 2019 after winning three NCAA championships in the steeplechase for Boise State University — told her she had to go into treatment or she’d be dropped from the team, she said.

“I’m honestly thankful that I’m here, because if they hadn’t forced me to come, I never would have, because I’m never going to think that there’s a good time,” Ostrander said. “And, like, maybe this season isn’t going to be ideal for me, and, like, I’m definitely prioritizing treatment as my number one right now, but I’m hoping that’s going to pay off in the long run, and that’s going to give me more seasons that I would have without that.”

Ostrander did not say whether she would still compete in the Olympic trials June 18 to 27 in Eugene, Ore. She is considered one of the top qualifiers in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.