If you're someone who possibly can win hardware at an Olympics or Worlds, if you're someone who can win enough money from your running that you're financially set for life, and even if you just want to see what your ultimate performances can be, it can make sense to go all out for five or ten years when you're young. Dealing with potential injuries can be part of doing so. Injuries heal. And you're really creating a false dichotomy here because if you've pushed yourself really hard in that five or ten years except in very rare instances you can still ease off and run for another thirty years or more.
I understand that people feel uncomfortable discussing an athlete's weight, but she's clearly underweight. You can't always tell who has an eating disorder by appearance, but in many cases underweight can be identified visually.
You can dissociate underweight and eating disorder, if you like - perhaps she doesn't have a disordered eating pattern, but struggles with nausea after training or can't eat late at night or simply doesn't like many foods. Regardless, it's affecting her ability to recover from training. There may be multiple factors at play, but one of them is definitely her extremely low body weight.
I ran professionally, and injuries are very common. At the highest levels, you’re pushing yourself into the grey area to get the most out of your body.
Now that I am (long) retired, I have been able to stay healthy. I’m also only running 16 minute 5ks and 2:40 marathons , not shooting for low 13s or 2:12. Pushing yourself into that final 1-2% of ability means things are more likely to break.
Think about a performance race car. If you’re running at 6000 rpm, things are fine and will stay fine. But if you’re pushing the redline, it is more likely things will break.
I'm not blind, so I can see that she's very thin, but you can't honestly say that you know she's at an unhealthy weight for herself. In most cases, people who look like her probably have some ED issues, but she's a world class athlete and may just have a freakish capacity to maintain a low body weight. As another poster mentioned, Eilish is no thinner than Hassan. People like Paula Radcliffe and Deena Kastor are also incredibly thin when in peak shape.
I recognize that EDs and RED-S are somewhat common in distance running, but we can't adequately address these issues if we make snap judgements about people based on a visual inspection of their bodies.
I'm convinced that some of the issues with disorderd eating come from the flawed assumption that super thin elites are starving themselves. A handful of girls think it's normal or common--a risk one has to take to be elite--rather than considering the possibility that some individuals are unusually lean and healthy at the same time.
Some think that if a particular body weight and physique are impossible for them without disordered eating then it's impossible and unhealthy for others. The truth is that body type is strongly correlated with athletic ability, and distance running selects for extreme outliers in terms of skeletal structure (a big determinant of weight) and leanness.
Case in point: Kipchoge is listed as 5'6" tall and 115lbs. Hassan is listed as 5'7" and 108lbs. If you look at Amercian women who have made the Olympic team in the marathon, few are more than 110lbs.
Liz McColgan, her mother, was listed as 5'7" and 99lbs in her pro running days. That's a lower BMI than Eilish, if the reported heights and weights are correct. In any case, it looks like being relatively tall and lanky is a family trait.
Aside from that, we can't know whether somebody has an eating disorder just by looking at them.
I know people who are my same age and height, healthy, and 20lbs heavier than me. I'm also healthy; I just have a much smaller skeletal structure. People are different.
A 32 year old has the same metabolism as a 21 year old, as per the huge from 2021.
I’ve had a 6 pack and low body fat percentage since I was 13 and first hitting puberty. Even through years of eating a lot to bulk up, the fattest I got is leaner than I’ve seen some people online talk about being ‘unsustainable’. If I eat and exercise I gain lean muscle and strength very quickly. If I stop eating the fat melts off and the muscle sticks around pretty stubbornly.