Let’s be REAL honest here – hormones can be a real BI*#% when it comes to running. Picture this: It’s the week before your big race (that you’ve been training for every single day for the last 5+ months). You’re feeling good, feeling prepared, getting excited… and then that first cramp hits. The next few days include (but are not limited to) the lovely familiar gifts from mother nature: bloating, cramping, cravings, fatigue… all of which come and go up until the VERY DAY of your race…
I know. Trust me…I’ve been there. While men and women both experience, and are impacted by, their hormones – women tend to have much more unstable hormone levels. Us women have to constantly battle the shifting levels of hormones in our body, and the handfuls of symptoms that come with these shifts. And this can be a REAL pain in the ass when you’re trying to get your body to do something specific – say – like run a freaking marathon.
One thing that I’ve realized throughout my years of running – is that hormones impact my running to a LARGE degree – and I have to get comfortable with that and be kind to myself when it happens. The fact of the matter is:
I simply run better on certain weeks of the month than others.
Some weeks I’m bloated, retaining water weight (making me heavier and thus making it harder to run), I have cravings for salty and sugary food (again, if I indulge, it leads to retaining water and making it harder to run), I am moody, tired, and simply less motivated. And these are just a FEW of the symptoms that us ladies have to deal with during THAT time of the month.
While we can’t change mother nature, or stop it from happening, there are definitely a few things that I’ve found helpful when dealing with the impact of hormones on my running. Here they are:
1.) PLAN AHEAD:
This might sound a little intense – but I literally plan ahead for these times of the month. I plan my races accordingly. While I don’t always know the exact days that I’ll be more impacted or less impacted by my hormones – I can predict, based on the patterns over the months, which weeks might be safer than others. And that’s exactly what I do. I try to plan races on weeks when I know that I’ll be feeling my best – and that helps me to perform my best!
2.) SHIFT MY PERSPECTIVE:
While it can be difficult to “stay positive” when I’m having these challenges on race day – it’s been really helpful to shift my perspective and my attitude towards the shifting levels of hormones – and the changes that they bring to my running. The first thing to do is simply TAKE NOTE of how your hormones actually impact you personally with running – do you feel more tired during that time of the month? Have more fatigue? Simply feel slower because you’re bloated or carrying water weight? Lose some motivation or drive to keep up with your running? Just IDENTIFYING these changes and feelings is a HUGE step towards showing yourself some kindness when they arise. Instead of thinking “I am going so freaking slow what is wrong with me?!!?!?!?!” I can remember, “I am going slower today, and that’s okay. I know my hormones are a little out of whack, and I can choose to go slower and enjoy the run anyways. I will get back at it next week.”
3.) HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE:
While you may feel bloated – it’s even MORE important that you stay hydrated during this time. Staying hydrated when you’re feeling bloated will actually HELP to flush out some of the toxins and waste from your body – thus helping out the situation! Plus, if you’re anything like me, some of those healthy habits (like staying hydrated) tend to fall off during this time of the month – so I have to truly be intentional about staying hydrate! I set timers on my phone and make sure to keep up with my water intake!
4.) TAKE A CLOSE LOOK AT YOUR DIET:
While you can’t stop the cravings from happening – you can control the likelihood that you cave into them! You can do this by making sure that your meals, especially during this time of the month, include lots of healthy carbs and proteins. These will help to keep you full and reduce the chance that you’ll give into that whole pack of Oreos or tub of ice cream – especially if you’re also staying hydrated!
Alright ladies… those are MY tricks for overcoming the havoc that hormones try to cause during my running journey. Now it’s your turn! How have hormones impacted YOUR running journey?! And what are your tips, tricks, and strategies for running during that time of the month?