Leeanne Adu is an award winning PA with a passion for running. She currently the Captain of the Backpackers, which is a London based running crew.
In this blog she will be sharing her experiences around running, training for her second marathon and menstruation.
In the beginning…
Over the years my periods have changed significantly and it is important to remember that periods and their flow can also change month by month. As a teenager and young(er) adults I suffered badly with the side effects of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) I once bled for 6 weeks straight and would frequently end up in hospital thinking I was dying from bleeding too much. Thankfully my symptoms have eased over the years and my periods are now every manageable.
For a very long time I was on birth control which meant I didn’t have to worry about periods at all. But for almost 7 months now I have been having regular monthly periods which last for 7 days.
I do use a period tracker and find it mostly accurate. Sometimes my period is a day or two later than usual, but never early and generally know my body very well. My pre-menstrual symptoms are very clear so I can judge if I am going to get my period better than my app in most cases.
Adjusting my training during my period
I am currently training for a Marathon which means very long training runs every weekend (as well as shorter runs during the week). I find myself wearing a tampon and a pad to ensure that if there is any leaking I am still comfortable. I have to think about carrying extra sanitary products with me. I think the hardest part of training during my period is not knowing how heavy my flow is, because it changes for me monthly. My last period I had a heavy flow by the end of day one with it being much lighter by day 3, but the month before my flow was heaviest on day 3. This means always being prepared. I prefer to use tampons over towels but it is important when using tampons to remember to change them regularly. I tend to change my tampon before AND after exercise.
I don’t stop working out during my period as I know there are many benefits to exercise during menstruation such as it helping with pain relief, energy levels and all round feeling better. I do take care to listen to my body though. If I feel very tired then I won’t push myself on to a really tough work out, especially during my heaviest days and also those days before my period when my pre-menstrual symptoms can be quite severe.
To swim or not to swim?
I’ll be honest, as much as I know I can swim during my period if I use a suitable tampon, I prefer not to. My heaviest days are very heavy and I do feel self-conscious, but I do continue with any other activities I am doing. I always make sure I use a fresh tampon before starting any exercise to help myself feel more secure. Most of the time during the actual exercise I can forget I am even on my period, but there are occasions when I might start to have a leak. It always feels like a bigger leak than it is, so I try not to worry and get myself to the nearest bathroom at the earliest opportunity.
Food, Cravings and Cramps
The days leading up to my period and the first few days of my flow I find myself very hungry and usually craving salty foods and lots of carbs. Give me all the chips please. This month I am sure there as a day when I had 3 lots of chips. This can be counter productive when training for an event or following a healthy eating lifestyle but I tend to give myself a break. It is important to listen to what your body is asking. That goes for aches, pains, tiredness and cravings. That being said, eating food that keeps energy levels up and replenishes iron and other vitamins helps much more than feeding those cravings.
Training for a marathon and training through periods has taught me that life goes on and as much as those cramps make me want to stay in bed all day sometimes, I can and should push through because I always feel so much better afterwards.