Guys have no clue just how hard it can be for women to run at certain times. Hopefully you are on a very regular cycle and can look at a calendar to make sure you won’t be surprised on race weekend. Even if you don’t have to worry about this on race day, you will need to deal with this several times since most marathon training plans are several months long.
The good news is that your performance won’t suffer and many female runners have put in top finishes while handling menstrual issues on race day. Some studies have even found that running helps menstrual issues.
If you are dealing with cramps, you might want to alter the time of your trainings to when it is less severe. You can also talk to your doctor about taking some advil before your training. If you have severe cramping, be smart and adjust your schedule. Your body is still getting in a workout dealing with those cramps and moving your miles to another day won’t ruin your training. Let’s talk about products. You want to avoid pads because they can cause chafing. Good options for running is a menstrual cup or tampons. If you go with tampons, remember to bring one or two spares and look for the “sport” or “active” versions.
To make race day go smoothly we don’t want to try anything new on race day. You might want to intentionally plan a long training run when you have menstrual issues so you can make sure your plan is good and you have chosen the right product. This will also help you identify new chafing spots. During menstruation, there is some bloating which means some body parts will be rubbing where they don’t normally rub. Make a note so you remember to give any bloated areas an extra coat of Body Glide or Vaseline on race morning to keep you comfortable.
If you unexpectedly feel bad cramps, it might not be menstrual but cysts. Let your doctor know about this. You don’t want to be surprised by bursting a cyst unless you enjoy horrible pain.
Up to 50% of women may encounter irregular menstrual cycles while they are training. When you increase your fitness exertion your body’s hormones can change. This change in your hormone levels can lead to less regular menstrual cycles. Some risk factors for irregular menstrual cycles include increased mileage or training intensity, drop in body fat or weight, a deficit of protein or calories, and psychological stress. The more risk factors in your life, the more likely you are going to have a bad time. Even though many women runners may experience this at one time during their running career it does not mean it should be ignored.
If you start to miss periods or they become irregular, listen to this warning sign of poor nutrition and/or overtraining. You should see a doctor to keep your body healthy & growing stronger. If you don’t see a doctor, there is a good chance your body will reward your toughness with a stress fracture or severe illness resulting in many weeks of lost training. Be smart and see a doctor before it is too late to save your marathon season.