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ELLIE EVANS’ STORY

When I came across the #TRAINBRAVE campaign, I realised that I finally found a voice which showed I was not alone. Running has always been there for me, through the times of exam stress to having a social life. My club is now my second family and without them, I would certainly not be making this final push to overcome my eating disorder, as well as actually finding my place in life.

Everyone always asked “what caused your eating disorder?” - I have no clue. But what I do know is that having the goal to run again certainly helped me through the initially stages to recovery.  

While, I admit I probably came back to running too soon, I would not have found my running club. It is every single one of these members which made me realise how much life is worth living and how to be myself rather than hide behind my eating disorder. I have been honest about it since the day started and the support, I have always received has been so important to my journey.

However, it finally caught up with me again. I thought I was on a better track with my nutrition but then university started, and food became a second importance but running was still a major focus in my life. I hoped to finish winter season with a high and enter into New Year with fresh goals, but injury hit. I developed two stress fractures. Running had to stop.

Three weeks into rest, depression was clearly there, and I had lost who I had become. Now with guidance, help, support and new year commencing, I realised that this injury has meant one thing. It’s time to put some emphasis on myself. The reason for a stress fracture can be several different components depending on the runner, but it’s clear to me that mine is down to athlete triad – loss of menstrual function, low bone density and restrictive diet.

If I cannot fix the reason it happened in the first place, it will just happen again. So now in 2019, it’s time to get serious. While I’m not running, it’s the perfect chance to gain weight, increase bone mass (I’m lucky that I’m 21 so hopefully reverse some of the damage I have done) and gain my periods back.

Never in a million years would I expect to be honest with myself and declare it to readers but if we don’t speak about it now then how will other athletes be aware.  I’m nearly there in weight restoration so it’s really is just the final push. Therefore, it’s clear that sometimes injury do happen for a reason and it truly is how you deal with them which will determine your comeback into sport.

I hope #TRAINBRAVE will not only allow other running clubs to become aware of RED-S and eating disorders, but also allow people to speak openly about the consequences and challenges when trying to overcome it. The campaign offers the best opportunity to show that people don’t have to fight battles alone, and it’s okay to finally admit to yourself that it’s time to get help.

The power of the right nutrition can affect whether you’re out for a season or whether you have one filled with consistent running, so if I have to gain weight to thrive than that’s what I will do and before anyone jumps to conclusions.

No I will not get slower, and I’ll prove it when back at the start line.

Ellie Evans

South Derbyshire Road Runners and half marathon runner.