Women are superheroes! In 1996, Uta Pippig won the Boston Marathon in pain and discomfort, with blood running down her legs. In 2002, Paula Radcliffe broke the world record in Chicago after suffering period cramps in the last third of her race. This is just one more thing women have to deal with. Being on your period is not a fun experience and running is probably the last thing you feel like doing. But running on your period does have some benefits – it releases natural endorphins which are mood-uplifting hormones, something that is especially needed at this time. Running also increases blood circulation which promotes oxygen flow and helps to minimize bloating or swelling. It can also help with other symptoms like headaches and cramps. But what are some ways we can make our running experience more comfortable at this time?
Five Ways To Make Running More Comfortable
1/ Stay Hydrated. How often are we told this? And how often do we neglect this? But hydration is important when you’re on your period as fluid distribution in your body is affected. Add running to the mix, and hydration becomes even more critical. So make sure you drink throughout the day and if you’re not very good at keeping hydrated like me, carry a water bottle around and track your water consumption using a phone app or your diary. Adding a gold star in my diary to each day I reach my target has helped me stay on top of my water game! Also, during this week, I use electrolytes (even for my shorter runs) which helps with my energy levels.
2/ Avoid Junk Food. Haha, so this is hard. My husband always knows when I’m on my period because that’s when he gets random messages at work with chocolate and take-out demands. But unfortunately junk food (especially high sodium and sugary food) just makes us more sluggish than we already feel. So eating healthy is especially important at this time – lots of fruit, leafy vegetables, nuts as well as protein-rich foods like chicken, fish, lentils and beans are a must. And if you need that chocolate fix, dark chocolate is rich in iron and magnesium!
3/ Take Time To Warm Up. Admittedly, when I’m pressed for time, I often neglect this. But when I’m on my period, I make sure I warm up with a brisk walk which usually helps to ease my cramps before I set off on a run. Of course, everyone is different but walking my cramps out is something I’ve done since High School, even before I was a runner! When I’m done with my run, I add a nice 15 minute stretching session which really makes me feel a lot better.
4/ Choose Menstrual Products That Work Best For You. I’m not going to tell you what to wear as I think this is a highly personal choice – what works for me might not work for you. So whether it’s a cup, tampon or pad, make sure that it’s secure, comfortable and fresh. If you wear pads, you’ll probably want to put some anti-chafing cream around the area where it’s in contact with the skin as this will help with chafing especially on long runs. As for underwear, grab your most comfortable pair and if you’re worried about possible seepage, wear a darker pair of tights. A friend of mine swears by ‘period undies’ which she says feel less sweaty and more secure than pads. While we’re on the subject, throw on a bold and bright top that makes you feel beautiful!
5/ Listen To Your Body. I generally don’t change my schedule much when I’m on my period. But if you’d rather miss a run because of heavy flow or serious discomfort, then do just that. If you manage a run but don’t feel like pushing yourself, don’t force it. Take your time and reduce your distance if you have to. As always, you know what works for you so let your body take the lead.
Having your period doesn’t have to stop your flow 😉 Everyone’s experience is different and you’ll know best what you can do and what you’d rather not. But for me personally, running during my period really helps to keep my mood uplifted and my body feeling good. Having said that though, I’m a lot more mindful of staying hydrated, eating healthy foods and stretching before and after my runs. I hope these tips encourage you to run, and run more comfortably, during this time. Allow me to say this one more time, women are superheroes! Yes, we are!
What tricks do you have for running when you’re on your period? Have you ever had a Paula Radcliffe or Uta Pippig moment during a run or race?