Hormones: #jigglingjugs

Hormones 

It’s been a game of two halves this week, as these football pundits like to say. This blog was going to be about my breathtaking achievement of running over 4k without a break.

I’m so glad I didn’t boast about this glory as when I went back to the gym two days later, I crashed and burned. What the hell happened? I couldn’t do more than two or three minutes without stopping for a walk. I couldn’t get into any kind of rhythm or pace. How could I possibly go from running 25 minutes to not even running five minutes?

After 10 minutes of misery, I came off the treadmill and thought right, I’m obviously not feeling it today so I’ll just do weights instead. But I couldn’t settle doing weights as I was so annoyed with myself.

So I got back on the treadmill and managed another five pathetic, half-walking, half-jogging, half-limping minutes.

I stormed home in a temper and burst into tears with my husband, who was having a lie-in and thought we’d been burgled. I stood there covered in sweat and tears and snot raging about the randomness of running and the fact I’d gone back to square one. And my poor husband hugged me and said, “Bloody hell love, you’re talking like Jessica Ennis. Do you think you’re hormonal because you’re being irrationally hard on yourself?”

And it’s true, I was indeed hormonal. Instead of focusing on my major achievement earlier in the week, all I could do was beat myself up. Okay, it hadn’t been a great run but I’d still run and a few weeks ago, any kind of running was unimaginable.

I am truly my own worst enemy but I’ve learnt a good lesson that no one is judging me apart from myself. I need to be kinder to myself, I need to be my own cheerleader. Go girl go! Just make sure this rubbish running doesn’t happen again for another 28 days!

Love #jigglingjugs x

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Go with the flow

The Scientific Bit

In the first part of the menstrual cycle, the follicular stage, training should be focused on high intensity and heavy lifting. In this phase oestrogen is the dominant hormone meaning a higher pain threshold and increased insulin sensitivity leading to better muscle building capacity and reduced fat storage ability (2).

In the second phase, the luteal stage, progesterone takes over the role of dominant hormone, thereby reversing everything mentioned above. Strength training is still beneficial but you may find that you aren’t able to perform or lift what you usually do or can during the follicular stage. Focus on relaxing and restorative exercises including foam rolling and stretching during this part of the menstrual cycle. Also shift the focus from short intense sessions to longer, endurance based, fat burning sessions (2).

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Image from Clue Blog (1)

If you are using a form of hormone contraceptive, your cycle will look different to this and therefore you might not experience the same effects on your training and body as mentioned above (1).

The Reality Bit

Basically every woman is different and you are all training for different reasons, at different intensity levels, all while dealing with varying levels of stress. Plus every one of you will experience your own personal menstrual cycle and individual symptoms, as Heather Watson knows all too well, putting her poor performance on the tennis court down to “girl problems”(3).

It’s important to know your own body. Use the above section as a guideline but listen to your body and trust your instincts. If you feel like lifting some heavy weights, brilliant, but if you feel more like a chilled out yoga based stretching session at home in your comfy pants, do it! Don’t get too bogged down with what part of your cycle you are in and don’t beat yourself up.

I use a really good period tracking app called Clue. It lets me add in additional information so I can keep a log of what my body is doing, how I feel and what training I’ve done. Start using it and see if you can see a pattern developing.

This also seems like an appropriate place to mention about reusable sanitary protection products. They are great so i’m on a mission to make sure everyone knows about them! There are loads to pick from, from cloth pads and panty liners to menstrual cups. I use a Mooncup but there is lots of different versions available now. Not only are they a healthier option for you and your vajaja, you also save money and the planet – boom! I have exercised and ran with my Mooncup in and never had any bad experiences. It can take a bit of getting used to at first so I would recommend using a pad as well the first few times you try it.

The Take Home Bit

Just keep moving and exercising whatever stage or time of the month you are in. Find something that you enjoy doing and just keep doing it. Listen to your body, love it lots and go with the flow!

References

(1) http://blog.helloclue.com/post/155486134861/cycle-science-hormonal-contraception-and-your

(2) https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2015/03/planning-your-exercise-around-your-menstruation-cycle/

(3) http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/fitness/how-the-menstrual-cycle-influences-athletic-performance/article22989539/