About me

I’m Rachel Sheldrake, the running coach behind ‘Running through Menopause’, and here’s my story of how it came to be…

Having been pretty active all my life, including some bits and bobs of running, it was in my mid thirties that I really got into the sport. The desire to run a marathon got me started, and from there I went on to enjoy all sorts of running, including road and trail, and was a keen club runner for some time. With hindsight, my training could have been better, but I achieved some decent results and most of all, I loved it. I’d found my sport.

It was in my mid-forties that things started to go awry. I found myself putting on weight and slowing down, a lot. My motivation was waning too – if I did persuade myself to go out for a run I’d want to stop, and much of the time I really couldn’t be bothered to even start. I’d moved to a new, flatter area, and was working in a very challenging job with long hours, so I thought those were to blame. I was stressed to the eyeballs, and also struggling with many of the symptoms of peri-menopause, but I didn’t know that. I thought that menopause was something that happened to women in their 50s, and that it meant hot flushes and periods stopping. I really had no clue.

Loving parkrun!

Fast forward a few years and having quit my all-consuming job to set up a coaching business Mud and miles trail running and coaching, I suddenly found myself amongst a whole number of women in their 40s and 50 who were often struggling with their running in some way. They also wanted to talk about menopause. As I got to know them, it dawned on me that what I had thought to be just a very difficult time of my life had actually been my peri-menopause years, but more importantly, that these two struggles were connected. There was something about menopause that impacted on running, often quite significantly, and frequently not in a positive way.

Keen to learn more, I found that not much information was available in terms of understanding menopause and physical activity, never mind running. Fortunately I happened upon the work of Dr Stacy Sims who was just beginning to share some research in this area, and undertaking courses with her gave me plenty to think about, including practical strategies to try out, both on myself and my clients. And what a success they have been! By making some simple changes to the way I train and eat, I managed to change my body shape quite dramatically, gaining muscle and lean mass. Best of all, I started to see the return of some speed! Although I’ve not quite got back to how I could run 15 years ago, I can see it will be possible – I’m well on the way!

Changing my own body shape

Having already worked with many menopausal runners through one-to-one coaching, I could see a great need for a community where women could come together and share their experiences of running through menopause, hence the ‘Running through menopause’ Facebook group was born. Following a talk I gave on running and menopause at the National Running Show in 2020, the group grew massively and now has almost 4000 members from all over the world. From there, I wanted to provide an extra layer of support for those who not only wanted guidance and advice from me, but also to ‘meet’ each other, and so I started the virtual RTM coaching group. This is just the beginning of my mission to make sure that all women can continue to run well through their menopause years. I don’t want any runner to suffer like I did.

My qualifications:

Coach in Running Fitness (Fell, trail and mountain) (UKA/FRA) 2016

Menopause for Athletes (Dr Stacy Sims) 2020

Women Are Not Small Men (Dr Stacy Sims) 2019

Level 2 accredited coach (Training Peaks) 2022

Functional running assessment and gait retraining (Kinetic Revolution) 2017

Summer Mountain Leader (MTA) (1990)