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Digital Subscriptions > Women’s Running > August 2019 > Body betrayal

Body betrayal

Women runners get more than their fair share of athletic curveballs thrown at them. However, there’s often a way to dodge these missiles, especially when you’re as agile as us

From leaky bladders and heavy periods, to discharge, hormonal boobs, pregnancy and menopausal issues, being a woman runner is a game of dodgeball we get adept at navigating. Sometimes though, something can come up that foxes us. We take 10 challenges that women runners face, explain the cause and offer solutions – with the help of specialists and runners’ first-hand experience.

Heavy periods

Problem

You may find that certain times of your cycle are better for long distance running and certain times for shorter bursts of high-intensity running, in terms of energy and stamina. When you’ve got your period, gentle running alleviates menstrual symptoms (even though it can be the last thing you feel like doing), but if you have a heavy bleed, it’s grim to be running in fear of leakage. Kiran Gandhi ran the London Marathon in 2015 while free bleeding on the first day of her period, and that simple act of bravery resulted in encouraging an engaged public discourse around running and periods, along with raising the issue of taboos around menstruation both in developing and developed countries. “Periods are here to stay,” she wrote at the time. “And our generation has the power to put this conversation on the map today in order to blow through the stigma.” Bloody well done, we say. All that said, not all of us want to blow through the stigma.

Fix

Your period’s here to stay unless you’re going to opt for a contraceptive that stops menstruation altogether (for instance, the Mirena coil) or wait it out until the menopause. So what can help?

Being aware of your heaviest days and scheduling your running around them is helpful and made easy with apps such as FitrWoman. Strava has recently partnered with FitrWoman, which enables you to track your menstrual cycle and get advice on nutrition and training. It syncs with Strava so you can see the impact your period is having on your training (or not!).

It won’t take away the bleeding but it will give you greater understanding of your body: when to push it and when to take a break, and it can keep you accountable if you start missing periods, a problem suffered by many elite athletes and one which can have a long-term effect on bone density due to low levels of oestrogen.

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About Women’s Running

Women’s Running is the community for women who love to run. Each issue is packed with essential advice on training, nutrition and kit, alongside inspirational real-life runners’ stories. Whether you’re considering your first ever run, or you regularly take part in races, Women’s Running will help you run better. Running is about more than just putting one foot in front of the other: it’s about who we are.