Home > Health & Nutrition

Bowerman runner opens up about dealing with RED-S

Elise Cranny wants runners to speak openly about the dangers and prevalence of RED-S

Elise Cranny is a member of the Bowerman Track Club and one of the best distance runners in America. With personal bests like 14:48 in the 5,000m and 4:05 in the 1,500m, Cranny has made a name for herself as a young runner with range and strength. On Monday, Cranny spoke about her experience with RED-S on the Voice in Sport podcast and on her Instagram. Cranny feels that RED-S, or relative energy deficiency in sport, isn’t talked about enough, and she wants to do her part to change that. 


RELATED: Nutrition advice for runners dealing with RED-S

Cranny writes that her experience with RED-S began in college: “I didn’t start addressing these issues until I was already in the midst of injury in college, but unhealthy thoughts and habits were bubbling beneath the surface well before that first bone injury. If you aren’t getting a regular period as a female athlete, I urge you to seek help, to talk to teammates and coaches, to make necessary adjustments to fuelling and training.” 


RED-S is a product of under-fuelling and sustained (unhealthy) weight loss. RED-S doesn’t occur overnight, in fact, it’s usually a slow burn as runners ramp up mileage and intensity, and fail to meet their energy needs as they do so. This begins as LEA (low energy availability) which means that your energy input (food) and energy output (exercise) don’t match up–your exercise is outweighing your food intake. If runners are in a state of low energy for too long, they can enter into the territory of RED-S, which can compromise bone and reproductive health – these changes can have long-lasting negative effects if left unattended. 

Puberty makes you faster

It’s important to note that world records are set by grown-up women, as opposed to teenagers. These women have undergone changes during puberty which may make them heavier in the short-term but stronger over the long haul. Cranny said on this week’s podcast, “Focus on the feeling of strength and empowerment as opposed to losing weight, and feeling frail, and on the brink of breaking. It’s a lot more common than people like to think or talk about. In college I learned in my junior and senior year, when talking to younger athletes, that a lot of people were having a similar experience.”


Cranny says that overcoming weight-focused training is something she has to think about every day, but that it’s been key to her success. Follow her Instagram channel for daily tips this week on overcoming RED-S, and remember that strong is fast. 

RELATED: What Melissa Bishop eats in a day