I’ve just restarted Parkrun after a 7-year absence! Now I’m very conscious of where I am in my menstrual cycle when I run so I know when not to run, when to build-up, when to push it, when to go easy and why some days it’s harder work.
Back then I had no menstrual cycle awareness except keeping a note of my period start date in my diary – which I still have. Thanks to Parkrun’s fabulous online records, I also know my run times.
Put the two together and I can see how my cycle affected my running without it being influenced by any bias in my attitude – brought about by menstrual cycle awareness. Here’s what I found out.
1. I tend to run premenstrually – I have that excess, pent-up energy and need to burn it off. Also, in the first half of my cycle I’m too busy and occupied with other things to be that interested in running.
2. My fastest times are just before I bleed. I have a lift in energy then. But when I trained with the wise Alexandra Pope of Red School, she told me that energy is not for using. So now I’ve learnt to contain it and my period time is easier and I have more energy in my next cycle.
3. My medium times are around Days 21 – 24 of my cycle (Day 1 is the first day of the period). This is when progesterone levels are at their highest. Progesterone increases our breathing rate which means that running feels like harder work and so I’m a bit slower.
4. My slowest time by far was when I ran on Day 4 of my cycle. I would have still been bleeding. Now I don’t run at all when I have my period as it’s the body’s natural time for rest and recharge. If I deplete myself in that time by running, then I don’t recharge properly and have less energy in the next cycle.
I discovered all this from just a few runs so will be keeping track of this more from now on. I’m curious to see how my times are during the first half of my cycle, after my period and before ovulation. I’ll keep you posted.
All you need to do is keep a note of each day of your cycle that you run/ exercise plus your time. I do it in a spreadsheet so I can sort it in order of day or time. Then you can see which days you are inclined to run/ exercise and how your times vary at different points of your cycle.
Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash
How about you?
If you run or practice sport, how do your times and/ or performance vary with your cycle? Add a comment below.