Using exercise to beat those bloody hormones
RUN CLINIC:Time of the month interrupts the training programme, writes RUTH FIELD
I AM in my third week of the programme in Run Fat Bitch Run and feeling good and motivated so far, not seen much weight loss but each time I go out I can go a little further and my mile time is down.
I’ve hit a bit of a snag this week with the first few days of my monthly cycle arriving, I just can’t find the motivation to pull on my running shoes and pound the pavement. It doesn’t help that I suffer with bad cramps, and the idea of doubling over in pain halfway round does not appeal. My Grit Doctor seems to have abandoned me, in favour of feeling sorry for herself. Is there any hints you can suggest for the coming months? Kate
I do feel for you Kate. There is nothing like that “special” time of the month to turn you into a self-sabotaging, chocolate-and-white-goods gorging, exercise-averse, man-hating deranged bloated slob. Oh, the joys of womanhood and every bloody month to boot. Pun very much intended.
The good news is that you can kiss that crazy hormonal bitch goodbye, or at the very least control and temper her wild ways by continuing to do what you are already doing because regular physical exercise will make a difference to your monthly moods. The discipline of running is eventually going to override the lazy bitch who calls upon you once a month to eat chocolate, and have you outside pounding the streets instead, irrespective of how you are feeling.
Regular running reduces the psychological symptoms of PMT and with any luck will also help the cramping pains too, because the endorphins released through exercise are our bodies’ natural painkiller and mood enhancer so triggering their release can kill those two big birds with one stone.
This is only your first month as a runner, so when your time of the month is nigh again, you will be better prepared to go into “attack dog” mode with the help of the following techniques:
I feel at my most bitchy during menstruation, so while you may be feeling physically lazy, try to direct that acid tongued inner voice against yourself to fuel your motivation to run. Be vicious.
If you are so emotional that the above has you collapsing in a self-pitying heap, just remind yourself that while it is the time of the month when you least feel like going for a run, it is also the time of the month where a run will have the most obvious palpable positive impact on your day: in beating the awful bloat, regulating your hormones and mood, tempering the man-hate, improving the cramps and replacing your sense of doom with one of wellbeing.
PMT symptoms have been linked to poor dietary habits and low levels of magnesium, which affect blood sugar levels and hormonal metabolism. Include foods rich in magnesium, B complex and calcium in your diet. This means: eat more dairy, green leafy veggies, wholegrains, nuts, fish and beans. If the cramping is bad, or you are worried about it getting bad during a run, take your usual painkiller before you set off, both to lessen your anxiety about the cramping coming on and to offset any real pain that you might suffer before the endorphins kick in.
When your motivation is at rock bottom, and your Grit Doctor has been silenced, get your partner or a close friend to be your back-up Grit Doctor: to force you into going outside in your trainers no matter what excuses you throw their way, and locking the door behind you.
Remember the psychological battle is always the toughest one to win, and once it is conquered (and it is already conquered when you are in your trainers and running kit and outside with the door locked behind you), you are 90 per cent of the way there.
The Grit Doctor says: Olympic gold medals have been won during menstruation. While Olympic gold might not be at the forefront of your mind just yet, use this thought to propel you into your running shoes and outdoors.
Ruth Field is the author of Run Fat Bitch Run. Tweet your running query to Ruth at: @gritdoctor.
See also: irishtimes.com/bodyandsole