Your period will affect your running, but that doesn’t mean you need to miss out. In fact, during some parts of your menstrual cycle, you may feel faster and be able to tackle harder speed workouts with more ease. But let’s be honest: Periods suck, and most of the time you feel like, well, you know.
Here’s why you should run anyway and what to watch out for.
Exercise can decrease menstrual symptoms.
Bloating, cramps, headaches, generally feeling exhausted and blech—all these things go together with that time of the month. But getting out and exercising—even for just 20-30 minutes at a slow pace—is a sure way to lift up your mood and ease menstrual symptoms. If you literally can’t stomach a run, try using the bike or elliptical instead—anything that gets you sweating a little bit will make you feel better. And don’t forget to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Prepare for stomach problems.
Many of us experience gastrointestinal upset with our periods. Know your body and its limits. If a hard workout makes stomach problems worse, scale back. Or if you’re worried about finding a porta potty on the road, run on the treadmill instead so you’re never more than 10 feet away from a bathroom if you need it.
Avoid binge eating.
Chocolate or—my favorite—hummus and pretzel crisps may sound like a great idea when you get a craving this time of the month, but try to keep any extra eating to a minimum. Otherwise, you’ll get bloated or upset your stomach, only increasing your feeling of being bloated and fat.
Beware of missed periods.
If you’re an athlete who regularly misses your menstrual cycle, please go see a doctor. It could mean you’re training at too intense of a level and not getting the nutrients your body needs. Exercise-associated amenorrhea can be a serious condition and is part of the Female Athlete Triad—a series of three interrelated conditions including loss of menstrual cycle, low energy and even bone loss or osteoporosis.
It’s not just your period.
You’re mid-cycle and feeling bloated—what gives? Well it’s not just your period that gives you menstrual symptoms. As you ovulate, you’re likely to retain water and feel bloated, too. Skip back to the first tip here—keep exercising and hydrating well to beat the mid-month slumps.