In Season Two: Running In A Woman's Body

“When I started running again, it was definitely just a really pure thing. I loved the feeling of running. And I clearly had something in me that loved to run. . . . All I wanted to do was use it as a way of clearing my head, and it worked. It made me feel so much better about myself. It gave me the boost I needed, and it gave me some confidence back in a really, really low time. And it was wonderful.”

—Charlotte Gibbs

Episode summary

Ultrarunner and marathon runner Charlotte Gibbs shares her journey navigating relative energy deficiency in sport, commonly known as RED-s; it’s a condition that used to be known as the female athlete triad. If you aren’t already familiar with RED-s, you can be now, and you’ll also understand why it’s important to be aware of, for yourself and for other athletes you may know, especially young athletes: RED-s far more common than most of us realize, and it has some awful consequences. But knowledge is power, and this is a powerful story.

Charlotte Gibbs shares her very personal journey about how her pursuit to become the best athlete she could be led her down the far too common and ultimately detrimental path to RED-s, a syndrome that happens when you don’t give the body enough of what it needs to keep up with the demands you’re putting on it. It’s a condition that happens over time and left unchecked, it will get progressively worse. The key to avoiding RED-s is to recognize early warning signs, and correct course.

Charlotte shares her full journey back to rediscovering joy and health through running, while acknowledging the reality that this is an ongoing process.

I am very thankful to Charlotte for sharing these personal details about her struggles with RED-s, overtraining, and restrictive eating. These topics can be tough to talk about, but these experiences happen more regularly than we recognize, and yes, awareness and knowledge are power. I thank you to Charlotte for being part of that empowerment.

Resources referenced in this episode 

We recommend the podcast Hear Her Sports: hearhersports.com

ROAR: How to Match Your Food and Fitness to Your Unique Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health, and a Strong, Lean Body for Life, by Dr. Stacy Sims and Selene Yeager

Selene Yeager

Dr. Stacy Sims

Ways to follow Charlotte and Strides Forward Online

Follow Charlotte on Instagram:  @lottiee78

Follow Charlotte on Twitter: @charlottegooda7

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Cherie Turner: Hello, and welcome to Strides Forward, where we share the stories of women marathon and ultramarathon runners. Each episode features one woman’s story focused on a chosen topic. I’m Cherie Louise Turner, a 51-year-old runner and also the host and creator of Strides Forward. If you’re new here, thank you for checking out the show. And if you’re returning, welcome back!

In this episode, we’re featuring the story of ultra and marathon runner Charlotte Gibbs, and we’re focused on the topic of relative energy deficiency in sport, more commonly known as RED-s or REDS; it’s a condition that used to be known as the female athlete triad. If you aren’t familiar with any of this now, stick with me, you will be soon, and you’ll also understand why it’s important to be aware of, for yourself and for other athletes you may know, especially young athletes: RED-s far more common than most of us realize, and it has some awful consequences. But knowledge is power, so let’s get to it.

I want to note, this episode does touch on experiences of controlled eating and diet restriction and there is mention of disordered eating as an aspect of RED-s. If these are topics you or those you’re listening with are sensitive to, please just be aware.

Alright, on to our story. For now, we’re leaving the topic of RED-s, and going back in time to a moment that happened about ten years ago, when Charlotte was just looking to get out of a rough patch.

Charlotte Gibbs: And then I was living in the UK and I had, I think it’s quite a typical story, a relationship breakdown. And I just was feeling awful and I needed to do something. And I opened my closet and I had a pair of old Reebok trainers in there. I mean, I can picture these things. They, they were huge clunky white. They probably were tennis shoes. I had a good goodness as what they were, so I put them on and I went for a run and I probably made, made it a hundred meters down the road, um, doing my old kind of milers pace and just like Ben Dover, gasping thinking, Oh my God, I can’t do this. But something clicked.

Cherie: And perhaps it clicked because Charlotte’s body knew how to run. Like she mentioned, the reason she’d made herself so exhausted so quickly was because she’d shot out in those beat up Reeboks trying to run something like that miler’s pace. For her, running meant going really fast.

But it’d been over a decade since she’d trained on the track in Cork. In the time between, she’d set up a life in the UK and focused on academics. Besides, her intent now wasn’t training like it had been back then, it was to help her move through those crummy post breakup blues. She just wanted to feel better. So she slowed her pace and gave it another go.

Charlotte: When I started running again, it was definitely just a really pure thing. I loved the feeling of running. And I clearly had something in me that loved to run. And I very quickly was, was running kind of an hour, an hour and a half without struggling too much. I didn’t have a watch. This was pre smartphone. So I had no way of measuring my distance. I didn’t have a clue how far I was going. I literally just had an old fashioned Casio stopwatch on my wrist and off I would go and I would just pick a route and I was probably doing that three times a week and it was lovely. and that’s how I started. I had no ambition to race. I didn’t want to join a club. All I wanted to do was use it as a way of clearing my head and it worked and it made me feel so much better about myself. And it gave me the boost I needed and it gave me some confidence back in a really, really low time. And it was wonderful.

Cherie: Charlotte kept at it and after about six months of regular running, a friend suggested she join a local running club. So, she did.

Charlotte: I had no context for where I stood against other people, but as soon as I went to the running club, I realized, Oh, okay, I’m going out with the fastest, faster groups. And I’m able to keep up with them. And so people started saying to me, Oh, you should race. You should race. You’re really fast.

Cherie: Charlotte started by running a few 10ks. She did well and she felt strong, so she moved up to the half-marathon and within a couple years, she was training for a marathon. And as she developed, she began to track the time and distances she was running and started to follow a structured training regime.

Charlotte: And then the memories came in of, back in the day when I was at school and the things, the messaging I’d learnt then. And I thought, well, if running is going to be competitive, if I’m going to be a competitive runner, then I need to think like an athlete again.

Cherie: Charlotte was remembering back to those high school track days, when she’d run fast enough to compete at the national championships. She’d been serious about competition and she strove to be the best she could.The messages that sunk in were, you need to look like an athlete, you need to work hard, you need to run a lot. So to the young Charlotte, it only made sense, the more you could run, the better you would be. She lived near the track, so she decided, in addition to regular training sessions she did with her team, she’d go do extra workouts on her own.

Charlotte: well, why not just do it? So I have a really vivid memory of climbing over that fence and running, just running mile raps because that’s all I understood. I didn’t really understand anything about structuring training or anything like that. I just knew, okay, I can run four laps to the track. That’s a mile, I’ll time it. And I’ll do as many of those as I can before I feel sick.

Cherie: There was also that drive to look like an athlete. And if, like Charlotte, you were a teen girl growing up in Ireland in the mid1990s, there was one track athlete whom you aspired to emulate.

Charlotte: Our hero was Sonia O’Sullivan So she was our idol. And if you’ve ever seen photos of Sonia O’Sullivan, when her heyday, you know, she was absolutely ripped skinny, she was like the perfect model of what you would imagine a distance runner would look like. Um, so Sonya was always held up to us as this was what you should aspire to be in every possible way. So it was all about hard work. It was about running as much as possible and doing a lot of miles, um, and also, yeah, being really skinny.

Cherie: So this was the athlete thinking Charlotte snapped back to. And it was this drive to be really skinny combined with a lot of hard work that would come to define a lot of what would happen over the coming years.

Charlotte: So when things started to go wrong, for me, definitely was when I started thinking about running in terms of weight control. I, it was never, for me, it was never about if I run this much, I will be thin. It was more, if I can be thinner, I’ll be a better runner. And I think it comes from, from the athletes mindset, which is, I want to do everything I can to be the best athlete I can be. And unfortunately I didn’t turn lies the concept that the best athlete I could be was also the thinnest athlete I could be. Um, and then that’s where the two became. So toxically intertwined.

Cherie: It’s a tricky sometimes cruel dance, dealing with bodies as athletes, especially when it comes to a sport like longer-distance running.

There is the factor of eating: You need to fuel, but many runners also want to be lean and light, to be skinny. And it’s not just in running of course. We see this in lots of sports. I remember it well from my bike racing days. I was always trying to lose 5 more pounds, no matter how thin I was; it became almost like a mantra. I was jealous of the elite racer who, rumor had it, ate lettuce for dinner. I would obsess over not being able to have that sort of discipline and beat myself up for not being able to get just that much thinner.

So, yeah, Charlotte is far from alone in fixating on the thinner is better model. The lighter and leaner you can be, the thinking goes, the faster you’ll go.

This of course creates an environment where disordered eating, radically imbalanced dieting, or simply underfueling can thrive in the name of weight loss and performance. Add to that the high training loads that marathon and ultra runners take on, and you can be headed into some unhealthy territory, like RED-s. In its most simple terms, RED-s is a syndrome that happens when you don’t give the body enough of what it needs to keep up with the demands you’re putting on it. It’s a condition that happens over time and left unchecked, it will get progressively worse. One common symptom of RED-s is losing your period. That’s what happened to me oh so many years ago: I lost my period for about 5 or 6 years. I thought it was a sign that I was training hard and was serious about my sport. What I didn’t realize was that I was compromising my health and likely my performance and that I wasn’t eating enough or at least not enough of the right nutrients.

Loss of menstruation doesn’t always happen. And, RED-s can happen to anyone, wherever they are along the gender spectrum. This isn’t only something that happens to menstruating people. That’s one reason we no longer call this condition the female athlete triad. Another reason is that it’s clearly more complex than a triad of factors. 

And it’s easy to see how mixing the desire to be thin with lots of hard running workouts can land you in this situation. The key to avoiding all this is to recognize early warning signs, and correct course. Because RED-s isn’t something you catch, it’s something that manifests over time. It’s the result of lots of choices along the way. But if you don’t know what to look for, the path to RED-s can look a lot like the path to becoming a fast long-distance runner.  

And for Charlotte, her drive to be thin for running dovetailed right into a struggle that she’d been working to manage for years. And wow, did this resonate with me.

Charlotte: I’ve always had issues around my, my eating and my food and I, it’s something I’ve struggled with. Probably most of my adult life, I’ve never been diagnosed with an eating disorder, but I’ve always been really, really super controlled about my foods even before, even when I wasn’t enough fleet. Um, and for whatever reason, I didn’t make the correlation between running and weight control at the start in any way, shape or form.

Cherie: So Charlotte wasn’t turning to running as a way to lose weight, she focused on controlling her diet.

Charlotte: there was no concept of needing to eat, to support the activities that you were doing. So I just thought, well, if I can eat less, then I’ll lose more weight. It’s as simple as that, isn’t it, because that’s what we’re told calories in calories out. Surely that’s what it is.SPACE Unfortunately, that’s not how it works, particularly when you’re an athlete and even more so when you’re running a lot.

Cherie: As Charlotte became fitter and faster, she continued to train harder and more.

Charlotte: I was doing weeks that that pros would do, and I wasn’t, I was also working, you know, and I’m not a pro runner. And, you know, there would be double days. Um, probably I do. I did a lot of run commuting, so I’d run 10 miles into work in the morning with a backpack, do a full day’s work and run 10 miles home with a backpack a couple times a week. And then in between that, doing, doing these crazy track sessions, then do 23, 24 mile long run at the weekend. Sometimes back to back long runs normally a 15 to 18 mile midweek, long run. Um, so yeah, they were, the weeks were pretty tough. But again, when I was, when I was okay, I could do these weeks and I definitely absorbed them and I got very, very fit.

Cherie: Let’s get some grounding here. Charlotte had worked her way up over several years of consistent running to tackle the marathon distance. She was strict about her diet, with the aim to be as light and fast as possible. She was dedicated and disciplined in her training, with the goal of being the best athlete she could be, while also holding down a full-time job. And it was working. By 2016, she was running faster than ever before.

Charlotte: I did the London marathon. I ran a really good time. And then I got invited to the elite start of a race that was only two weeks later after that marathon. So I didn’t really take in enough of a break after the London marathon, I probably had like two days running. Um, and then I started running again and I was running sessions and I went to this, this race of so exciting for me. I was on the elite start. It was a beautiful day that photographers, it was amazing. I’ve given a pair of shoes, you know, so cool.

Cherie: Experiences like this are the highlights for serious amateur racers. Like Charlotte mentioned, she wasn’t a pro, but here she was among the elite field; it’s an achievement and an honor to earn your spot at the front of a race.

Charlotte: eight kilometers into the race. Um, the, it was awful. The, um, the tendon snapped off of the metatarsal, the third metatarsal of my foot. So it was basically, it was caused by a stress fracture. So the stress fracture happened, but when that happened, it actually displaced the tendon. So it was an, the pain, I dropped like a stone and the foot turned black and it was just, the whole thing was just hideous. So that was the first injury that, that was. And that, that was a direct result. I think of just having been horrifically over-trained and under recovered.

Cherie: In an instant, everything can change. You push your body to the edges of its potential, and then it lets you know when you’ve pushed it too far. It breaks. For many competitive athletes, rehabbing injuries is just a regular part of the journey.

Charlotte: Actually I recovered from that quite quickly. Um, and I didn’t get a huge amount of help. So at this point I was, I was on, um, enough, I had enough support around me that I probably should have gotten more help than I did, but because I recovered quite quickly from the injury and everything on the outside looked, or I, you know, I was cleared to start training again. I did, I actually won a race probably eight weeks after that injury and came back really quickly and strong from that.

And, and actually it it’s one of the few injuries that, that actually healed really well. Amazing me. Um, and I think that shows that at the time I was still getting my periods and I probably, my bones were probably relatively strong still at that point, I was able to recover, but that was the start really of my injury cycle on. And unfortunately since then, I think I’ve had eight stress fractures I’ve lost count. Um, and they just started coming thick and fast after that.

Cherie: But this is still 2016 and Charlotte didn’t know what was coming. She didn’t realize that this first stress fracture was a warning sign of a bigger issues creeping in. Issues that were sending her into an injury cycle. She didn’t know that she needed to start adjusting her training and recovery or that it was probably time to consult with a nutritionist.

Now what she knew was that she’d recovered really well from a ugly stress fracture. She’d given it the standard two months of rehab, she was cleared to start training again, and she was eager to get back out there.

Charlotte: I, I love doing a training plan. I absolutely love the process of, of ticking off the sessions and knowing that you’ve done that session. So there, it’s definitely, there’s something incredibly addictive about that, and you’re not willing, it’s very hard to let that go. And once you’ve achieved that level of fitness, letting it go and letting it slip away was psychologically incredibly challenging for me.

Cherie: It’s an awesome feeling to be really fit.

Charlotte: But you need to take downtime. And I would not take that downtime. I thought genuinely thought that this is normal. And it’s taken me a very, very long time to come to terms with the fact that, you know, it’s, it’s okay to not run or to just run 5k because that’s all you need to do. And there’s still that thing in me that always says, you know, you must do more, you must do more because I’ve got this crazy benchmark to measure myself against which I was able to achieve once upon a time.

Cherie: In hindsight, of course, everything looks so much clearer. Charlotte needed to take downtime. But, she loved the training, she loved being that fit, and she’d established herself as a committed athlete who ran fast.

Charlotte: But then I was on a structure where I had goals and aims. And if you didn’t hit those goals, you felt like you potentially, you weren’t good enough and you weren’t doing enough. And, or, you know, you went to running club and didn’t feel great that night. So somebody on the, in the group was faster than you and you didn’t feel suddenly just didn’t feel good enough. So you needed to, to go out and do more. And it just became part of my identity. And as soon as something becomes part of your identity, you become wedded to it because that’s who, that’s the label that’s been put on you. So you are now the runner and you feel like you need to live up to that. And living up to, it means always being the runner and always being the fast one. And, um, and I think that’s when it started to all go wrong.

Cherie: So there’s this pressure to always be the one showing up and crushing it. And there’s one final element that can really send things into a tailspin: you learn how to override signals of fatigue and pain, because that’s part of the process of getting better.

Charlotte: Um, but yeah, it was, it was a lot of running, um, a lot, a lot of running probably. Um, I mean, you know, there’s the inevitable tiredness. You feel wrecked all the time. There were a few days, I remember where I was really struggling, but there is a realm of normality around fatigue. I mean, you have to get to the point of fatigue in order to make the, um, adaptations, which cause fitness. So I think there is a certain amount of normal fatigue there, but then I think I stepped over that line quite quickly.

Cherie: Crossing the line between fatigue and pain you should train through and fatigue and pain that’s going to result in serious health consequences is hard to pinpoint; figuring out where that is, is a skill that’s very tough to master. But it is critical to tend to. This is the art of listening to your body and adjusting to its needs, regardless of what your training program says and regardless of what popular science may say about the newest ideas in optimal diet plans. In the end, your body is the very best judge of what you need. And every single body is different. We are each an experiment of one. That’s one of the many factors that makes this athlete life so endless fascinating but also at times very deeply frustrating.

For Charlotte, she had becoming a bit too good at dismissing important signals from her body, and add to that, she didn’t want to just stay the course, she wanted to continue getting faster.

Charlotte:  I then got into this mindset that I needed to start finding ways of improving. And this was around the same time that, um, podcasts had kind of just started. And there were a lot of podcasts suddenly appeared where people were talking about, you know, how to optimize your athletic ability. And of course, ah, carbohydrates, carbohydrates are evil. Carbohydrates are causing insulin resistance and they’re making you slow and they’re making you fat. So I of course decided I will stop eating carbohydrates.  know more than I knew then, but at the time I just absorbed all this information and thought, well, I want to be better. I want to be healthier. So if that’s the way to be healthier, I’ll just, um, stop eating carbohydrates, which is a really bad idea. Um, so I kind of just stopped. So we, instead of having pasta with dinner, you know, you would have the sauce, but with cauliflower instead, and you know, these, these swaps that people know about now that just became a way of life for me. And what I didn’t realize of course, was that by doing that, I was not only restricting the micronutrient that was needed to give my body energy, but I was also massively slashing the amount of calories I was taking in.

Cherie: This was happening after that 2016 London Marathon, and through the couple of years when she’d experience those eight or more stress fractures. And it was during this time, too, that Charlotte had branched out into ultrarunning on the trials and skyrunning, where athletes tackle tough, steep mountain terrain.

Charlotte: You know, I was doing things like winning a 50 mile race and doing sky running races in Europe. Um, so I had these like periods where everything was really good and then I get another stress fracture, but then it would heal and off I’d go. And then I get another stress fracture. Um, and so I was in, in the time when I was not rehabbing a stress fracture, I was actually running really, really well. And because of that, I was never really actually addressing the, that underlay everything.

Cherie: What was underlying it all was a combination of factors: Charlotte’s body needed to rest; she was overtraining and underrecovering. But likely even more so, she needed to fuel better. Unbeknownst to Charlotte, this carb cutting trend wasn’t setting her up for the success she’d expected it would. And she wasn’t alone. And here I want to pull from the seminal book ROAR, by Dr. Stacey Sims with Selene Yeager, and published in 2016, and it says simply:

The current diet trends among active people are leaving them insufficiently fueled. Specifically, the big trend in the endurance and CrossFit worlds right now is low-carbohydrate, higher fat and protein diets.

As ROAR goes on to point out, this came on the heels of the low-fat, high-carb regime we were all told to follow in the 80s. And that turned out to not be a great option either. So this lower carb idea wasn’t all bad. Taken too far, however, it causes its own set of issues. And it’s worth noting, as ROAR does, that a lot of women who experience symptoms of RED-s, like disrupted menstruation, aren’t necessarily extremely lean or exercising excessively: they’re just not getting adequate nutrition.

But at the time, Charlotte was following the prevalent thinking of the day. If this was how to get faster and healthier, she was going to follow these guidelines to the letter. And it added fuel to the struggles she already had around eating.

Charlotte: and all of this definitely fed into this restrictive nature. And then as it went on, it became more obsessive. And I had, I would get really angry with myself if I’d slipped up. Um, and at the same time, of course, I was also getting weaker and slower because I didn’t have enough energy in my body. And so I was getting angry with myself for not being good enough. You’re not fast enough, what’s wrong with you? Why are you so slow? Um, and then it just really, really spiraled from there into this nasty environment of self deprecation and denial and being hungry all the time.

Cherie: Charlotte’s quest for being the best athlete she could be had transformed into a deepening personal struggle with food. What she ate was beginning to define the way she thought of herself, if she was a good or a bad person. If you eat what you aren’t supposed to eat, you’re a bad person. And the more she tried to get it right, the worse things were becoming. So what could possibly make all this spiraling stop?

Charlotte: Being diagnosed with osteoporosis. Um, so, you know, you’re diagnosed with osteoporosis at an earlier, relatively young age, and that’s enough of a slap, um, to make you realize that you’ve got to, you got to sort yourself out. Um, it was, it wasn’t a huge shock because I’d had so many stress fractures and the stress fractures just kept coming.

Cherie: Osteoporosis. A condition of weak, fragile bones. This was a disorder mostly experienced by people in their 80s and 90s, with a low percentage of cases seen in people in their 60s. But here was Charlotte a competitive ultra-runner in her late 30s with this stark diagnosis. Because this is also what happens when you undernourish and overtax your body for long periods of time.

Charlotte: When I had been referred to a sports medicine consultant, um, at the university, um, where I live and he was the one who sat me down and said, you have osteoporosis, you’re in an energy deficit. You are an, an absolute poster child. I think he used the term for red S syndrome. And if you don’t sort out your attitude to your eating and improve your nutrition, you will never run a step again.

Cherie: You will never run a step again. Ultrarunning, marathon running, the entire intent is to run really far. The sport champions challenging your limits, pushing through pain, developing a mindset where you can endure great discomfort mile after mile. And there are great rewards in this pursuit, to be sure, but also wide potential to do yourself harm. And the further along that path you go, the louder your body’s messages will become.

Charlotte: So I’ve been doing something which I’ve never done before, which is doing moderate mileage, easy running. I am utterly hopeless and easy running. So I’ve had to learn that, you know, you go out and you can jog and you can jog at a really easy pace and keep your heart rate super low. I still really struggle with that. You know, I hear the thoughts in my head go round telling me, Oh, you should speed up even silly things like, Oh, those people who are walking on the trail Valley, they think you’re really slow. Why don’t you run a bit faster because they’re going to think you’re really slow. It’s again, it sounds so silly, but these are the kinds of negative thoughts that go, that, that helps self sat. The self-sabotage becomes really strong. Um, so I’m learning to not listen to those thoughts.

Cherie: Ah the concerns about what other people on the trail will think when you’re running so slow, I’ve been there myself. And it does sound so silly when you say it out loud. Like, really, who cares? But still, I get it because I’ve thought the very same things.

So Charlotte is learning to set aside that very unhelpful type of negative thinking. And instead, she’s learning to listen to what her body needs, to get back in touch with it’s important signals, and to give it the rest and recovery it needs. And her eating, she’s tending to that too.

Charlotte: I wish I could say everything was perfect, but that would be a lie. And I don’t want people to think that it’s normal just to flip a switch and all of a sudden everything is perfect. It’s something that you have to really, really hard on improving the food you’re eating and actually just improving your nutritional intake and your caloric intake. That helps a lot because once your brain is being sufficiently fueled and particularly once your brain has enough carbohydrates in it to feel it, you think more clearly, and you are a lot more, you are able to be more rational in your choices. So that’s a really good first step, but it doesn’t erase years and years of ingrained preconceptions about yourself and what you should do and what you shouldn’t do. Um, and that’s a word that’s a big work in progress for me. So it’s work in progress.

Cherie: On this path to healing and addressing long-entrenched habits that weren’t serving her well, Charlotte had a chance to reflect on why she wanted to do this sport to begin with.

Charlotte: Running is about adventure and freedom. Um, so I run so that I can be fit and strong enough to have amazing adventures out in the mountains. Um, I love the mountains are my favorite place in the world. So any mountains at all. So my treat is to drive, um, say out into the Welsh mountains and have a long day climbing up the mountains running where I can run falling into bogs, being covered in mud. Um, face-to-face with sheep, whatever it may be. I just love these long days in the mountains so much. And that’s where I find my peace and my joy. And you can only do that if you’re fit and if you’re fit and strong enough to do it. Um, so that’s basically where my joy comes from.

Cherie: Charlotte has also gained the wisdom of understanding how this pursuit of being the best, healthiest, fastest, strongest version of herself can cross over to become its destructive opposite. And she’s gained the wisdom of understanding what works for her.

Charlotte: Um, so I don’t want to be one of these people who says, Oh, you know, you run running for my mental health is so important because I actually understand that running is something that I do that can be very damaging for me, but it’s also something that I do, which can be very positive for me if I approach it correctly. And I’ve now got that attitude where when I’m running, I can say to myself, I get to do this. I choose to do this. I’m not doing this because I feel like I have to. And that’s the way it always was in the past. I would think I have to do this run because if I don’t do it, I will hate myself for the rest of the day. And now I’m, I can go and do the run because I want to, because it’s a nice day out and I want to go and see the river. And I want to see the Heron that lives down at the bottom of the river. And I want to go through the woods and see how the leaves are changing color. And that’s a completely different attitude. And I am not going to stand here and say, you know, it’s all roses and it’s all perfect. So definitely days where I struggle. And there are days where are some of the bad thoughts come back? Like I said about, you know, thinking that people think I’m slow because I’m running slowly past them on the trails. But most of the time I am able to have that healthy attitude. And it’s given me the joy in running back that I had at the very start when I didn’t know how far I went and I didn’t know how fast I went. And I just knew I liked the feeling of running

Cherie: And with that, we come to the end of Charlotte Gibbs story centered around her RED-s journey, which, like she said, is still a work in progress. I am so thankful to Charlotte for sharing these personal details about her struggles with RED-s, overtraining, and restrictive eating. These topics can be tough to talk about but like I said at the beginning, I believe these experiences are far more common than we recognize, and again, awareness and knowledge are power. Thank you to Charlotte for being part of that empowerment.

Please check the show notes for links to Charlotte on social media. I’ll also link to the International Olympic Committee paper about RED-s that is the source for the quote I read.

And I will link to the book ROAR as well as Dr. Stacey Sims and Selene Yeager’s personal websites. Both these women are doing really important work around women’s physiology and performance and they’re coming out with a new book focused on menopause very soon, which I for one am really excited about.

This episode is part of our series of stories focused on running in a woman’s body, where we’re focused on the topics of menopause, RED-s, and pregnancy. Each episode in this series features one runner talking about her experiences around one of these topics.

As always, I’m very thankful to you for listening. We love making these stories, but they are  made to be hear, so you’re being here is a critical part  of the equation. And we’d love to hear from you. We have a survey that takes about 10 minutes to complete; you can find the link to that at the top of our homepage at stridesforwardpodcast.com.

The Strides Forward team includes me, Cherie Turner, your host and producer. Cormac O’Regan creates and places all of the music you hear. And he does it from his studio in Cork, Ireland. April Marriner of Bonfire Collaborative does all of the design work for the show, including the website, merch, and logo. She comes to you from Truckee, California. You can find April at bonfirecollaborative.com.

Strides Forward will be back in a couple of weeks with another episode about running in the women’s body.

Until then, this is Cherie wishing you satisfying strides forward.

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