With this new understanding of your menstrual cycle and the fueling mechanisms that change from phase to phase, don’t view your cycle as a training disadvantage but rather a training secret. Use what nature gave you as your ergogenic aid and have confidence in your training. Sorry, men, but maybe estrogen is the wonder hormone after all! (from Run Planet)
As I’ve explained to people before, Ms.V does not discuss menstruation. We don’t discuss products, descriptions, anything. And never in general public. I had 2 babies with my former husband, and I hated discussing this with him even. I just think in polite society, we really don’t need to know about your cramps, pms, or anything else related to menstruation.
No need to put down your breakfast. It’s not that kind of a conversation.
I really am interested in the impact menstruation has on running. Before I started running, you could set your clock to my mood. A day before I was crying. I was having pounding headaches. I was a mess. Then I was down for 2 days with a heating pad and indiscriminate Advil popping. I usually forgot when I took the last one, so my friends were always concerned about me.
In training for now my second marathon, I’ve noticed one thing. Menstruation is rarely a thought. Like, oh that. A long run of 15 miles is not canned because I have cramps. If anyone remembers, I was on day 2 at the Nike Women’s Marathon, having to go in the woods and take care of business. It was horrid.
I’ve researched some articles that may help.
- About: Many women fear that they’ll have their period for a big race, like a marathon. The good news is that it will have limited impact on your performance. In fact, women have run well and even set records during all phases of the menstrual cycle. You may find that running can actually improve your mood and alleviate physical symptoms before and during your period.
- Run the Planet (RE: The phases of your cycle) Say you’ve planned your track workouts for every Wednesday. You go to the track during your follicular phase (low estrogen) and hit all your repeats right on. You leave the track with confidence and excitement. A few weeks later, you go to the track but you’re now in the luteal phase (high estrogen). You feel sluggish, tired and lethargic. You feel like you have a totally different body. You leave the track doubting your abilities and your training program, despite the fact that your long runs have been successful. Don’t feel discouraged, though. It’s not for lack of training that you’re performing this way, it’s the way your body is fueling your workouts. In the follicular phase you benefit from a quick breakdown of carbohydrates for speed and efficiency. Your body is primed for providing quick energy for fast running In the luteal phase, however, your body is in the fat-breakdown mode – fueling your workout primarily through increased utilization of fat. Since fat is a source of slower, more sustained energy than carbohydrates, your intensity may suffer during the luteal phase. Basically you’re trying to run high-octane workouts on low-octane fuel. In other words, during the luteal phase your long, slow runs will feel easier and require less recovery time because your body will take advantage of increased fat breakdown. In the follicular phase your tempo runs and interval training will feel easier because you’ll be accessing quick energy through carbohydrates.
- Dudley Ladies: Some research in 1993 (Menstrual Cycle Phase and Running Economy, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Vol. 25(5), pS74, 1993) goes some way towards solving part of the equation. Eight fit, normally menstruating females were asked to run at intensities of 55% and 80% VO2 max during different stages of their menstrual cycles. …None of the variables measured – VO2 max, blood lactate, lactate threshold, maximal heart rate and fat oxidation – were different at any stage of the menstrual cycle.
- Runner’s World, UK 15. There’s no need to miss a run or a race just because you’re having your period. If you’re suffering from cramps, running will often alleviate the pain, thanks to the release during exercise of pain-relieving chemicals called endorphins. Speedwork and hill sessions can be especially effective.
- Running Coach Menstruation is not an illness or an excuse. Most healthy women can run any time during their cycles. If you really really can’t – plan your training and marathon carefully and have a heart to heart chat with your doctor about conditions that prohibit you from running. Some women manipulate their menstrual cycle with hormone therapy. Check with your doctor before you go fooling around with your hormone contraceptives or you may end up with unexpected results.
- Trifuel The effect of menstruation on training is varied. Most active women notice minimal change in their 5 day cycle and if anything they comment on their increased awareness as to how the body is feeling during this time. Their heighten sense of body awareness is one of the many benefits that comes from training and listening to their bodies. [in marathon training]…Due to the blood loss from the menstruation process, combined with the destruction of blood cells in the feet caused by running, women can find their iron stores reduced. An increase in either red meat or other foods high in iron such as silver beet and lentils along with vitamin C plus a reduction in tea during the period week, will enable your body to absorb and store the iron necessary for everyday body cellular function. The necessary chocolate bar/s goes with out saying – and it would be a brave man who questions any women during this week as to whether she REALLY needs them!
So go ahead ladies, have the chocolate, but do the long runs!! I’ve done the marathon with the worse case scenario, and the experience taught me that women can walk through ANYTHING…Remember, let your body do it’s work, and stay out of the way!!
Here’s the Story Of Menstruation from a 1946 Disney Film. Funny!!! (I think it might be the one I saw in Jr. High!)