Girl Talk: Our Cycles & Performance

Sorry in advance to any of my male followers – this one isn’t for you!

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I’ve been recently obsessing over a topic and after this morning’s run, I’m extra obsessing over it.

For a period of about 4-6 days a month, running is REALLY REALLY hard.  Not just motivation and energy levels, but actual running.  My endurance is shot, my heart rate is way higher, and my legs feel like lead.  I’ve always attributed it to over-training but with a bit of tracking I actually noticed a pattern: it always happens in the week leading up to my menstrual cycle.

I came across this article in runner’s world, as well as this one.  They’re both interesting reads and explain the changes in hormones over the course of a month for a woman.  Basically, the first two weeks after you start your cycle are fantastic, and the second two weeks are terrible, with that last week being the worst.

The good news is that there is a reason for my sudden decrease in performance and the “wall” I hit at that point in my cycle.  The bad news is that my marathon is going to fall on this “hard” week.

This morning’s run was awful.  Like seriously, horribly, awful.  I had to do 9 miles and by the time I hit mile 2 I knew it was going to suck.  My heart rate was high and I had to keep taking walk breaks.  What’s crazy is that yesterday I felt amazing, and today, this.  I did manage to push through and get it done, but it took a lot of mental willpower and it was not fun!

I talked to my nutritionist about this and we have a few tactics I’m going to try:

1. To help with energy levels, I’m going to switch to a food-based vitamin and greens supplement to add to my shakes each morning.  I ordered Rainbow Light capsules from Amazon and they’re out for delivery (thank you, Amazon Prime!!)

2. I’m going to concentrate on a higher carb and water intake during this week.

3. I’m going to do a little bit of sodium-loading pre-run and see how that helps.

I’m really hoping that the combination of the super low mileage the week of the marathon, the extra rest, and pure adrenaline will make this a non-issue on race day.  

I’m anxious to have any other tips or insights you ladies may have for me. Unfortunately, I’m not on oral contraception, so shifting my cycle is not an option!

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