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Overcoming RED-S

#TRAINBRAVE support Lauren Charlton opens up about her experience with RED-S, and how she’s now fighting back by becoming a healthier, happier runner.

Many of my close family and friends will understand where this post is coming from and hopefully appreciate an explanation to the last couple of years.

As I began training to run competitively rather than just as a hobby, I began to take on the attitude of ‘train harder to perform better’.

Initially the increased training and focus on a ‘healthy diet’ were paying off and everything felt like it was falling into place. My times were improving and I was beginning to look more like what I viewed as a ‘competitive athlete’.

However after a few months my training sessions, race performances and general energy levels began to plummet. The motivation I had gained to become a competitive athlete was still there but not as strong as it had been.

It became apparent to me at the beginning of this year, finally after many appointments and remarks from family and friends, that I was under fuelling for the amount of training I wanted to do. Not intentionally, but by lack of knowledge and denying myself those ‘unhealthy’ foods that would provide me with much needed calories that I need to fuel my body.

I have been inspired by many recent stories in athletics such as Anna Boniface and the #TRAINBRAVE campaign to recognise and open up about my story with RED-S [Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport].

It has been very gradual and definitely not easy, but I have to remind myself daily that I choose to do this sport due to passion but in order to sustain myself for the future, I need to fuel myself adequately and take rest when needed. Obvious to some, but sometimes difficult for people like me to make the connection.

It is in my hands to reverse the damage that I have done. It will not be a magical overnight fix, but I have definitely noticed my mood and body improving since accepting the change. The change that will keep me equipped to maintain a passion for my sport. 

I have started a blog in order to document my story with RED-S and provide support and advice to athletes also going through the process. I am also going to be taking part in the Uttoxeter Festival of Running on May 5th in order to raise awareness of RED-S.

Although this is not a run to raise vast amounts of money, rather to raise awareness in my fellow athletes, I have set up a JustGiving page if you would like to donate in order to raise funds for me to organise something to help raise awareness of the sport for athletes in my sport.

I am also doing this in memory of both my Grandpa and Grandma who have passed away suddenly from cancer. They both made comments expressing their concerns about my weight loss, and I know watching me become a healthier person up in heaven will make them extremely happy!

This post has been very difficult to finally put out in the open and I have been putting it off again and again, but finally realised that as we say at the start line of a race ‘It’s now or never!’

Thank you to everyone who has supported me through this process, especially my family, and I promise I will make up for any joy I missed out on during the last couple of years.