Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I Hate Getting My Period

Are you bloody ready?! (Oops, mind the pun!)


I hate being all PMS-y during the week before it's due.
I hate the acne outbreak that I will suffer.
I hate being bloated and my belly, face and thighs retain water worthy of the Indian Ocean.
I hate being ravenous all the time.
I hate the funny feeling in my tummy, unsure whether IT is coming today or not.
Or maybe it's gastric, I dunno.

And most of all, I hate it when IT finally comes, hallelujah, I may have to skip a day or two of running because of bad cramps.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on this subject. Whatever I say here in this blog post is entirely my opinion, based on my experience *ahem* and information available on the Internet, which may or may not be accurate. :)

If you read my Putrajaya Night Marathon 2012 race report, you would know that it was one of the worst races I had in my entire running life (just 4 years, going on 5). The only other time I ever felt weak due to that Time Of The Month was during one of my long runs in 2011, when the hubby and I were training for the 2011 Fubon Taipei Marathon. I felt weak and lethargic, and my muscles ached as I ran that I wanted to walk most of the way.

I was never a huge fan of monitoring my menstrual cycle until running become serious business I realised it was easier to identify my mood swings, the reason for my food binge-ing, being bloated, weight increase (up to 2kg!), acne and I could anticipate when Day 1 would come.

Oh, and to be make sure I have the necessary items in my handbag, just in case. *angry face*

It also became easier to rearrange my workout schedule beforehand. Say, if I had a group run or a long run I had to attend to on Day 1 and 2 of the cycle, I may opt out or inform the hubby that I'll be running slow, and slot in my moderate (not easy, not hard) run during Day 4 or 5 of the cycle. (Maybe on Day 3, too if there is less lethargy.)

As Michelle Looi mentioned in her DR interview, there is no need for you to cancel your workouts just because it's that Time Of The Month. Opt for a light or easy workout instead.

If you've been running for sometime now or if you're new to running, I would suggest you monitor your menstrual cycle. If you don't like the old fashioned way of putting a teeny weeny star on your diary or calendar, you may opt for one of the phone apps available for free such as Period Plus, Period Tracker, Period Diary (I used this on my last iPhone), Love Cycle and many more.

Don't worry. These apps are very discreet and the icon on your phone will not scream "PERIOD" for all to see!

Why Should You Monitor Your Menstrual Cycle
From your records, you will eventually identify the regular pattern of your menstrual cycle and how you feel during certain days. Using that as a guide, you rearrange your training schedule or even social calendar!

Let me give you some examples:
1. If it's a heavy flow with bad cramps, backache, sore muscles and lethargy, you may want to rest. Be sure to put a hot water bottle on your abdomen to relax the sore muscles. Take a painkiller if necessary.
2. If it's heavy with no cramps, sore muscles and you're feeling less lethargic, try an easy 3KM run. If legs and lower back still feel weak after 500m - 1KM, well, I guess you can stop and go back to rest. Heh. Sorry for the late notice. :D
3. If it's medium to light flow with no cramps or lethargy, you'll do fine. A 5 - 8KM run is peanuts! (P.s. No one asked you to run too fast!)

But as mentioned above, I'm no expert. Just sharing what I usually do.

I'm OK on Day 1 and will take it easy with a short run. Day 2 is when I'm at my worse so it would be best that I rest. Day 3 will be an easy run and Day 4 is back to the usual routine.

The strangest thing is that you will feel a surge of energy from Day 4 /5 onwards and 5 / 8 / 10KM is easy peasy. The science behind it will probably explain better to you than I ever will.  (See How To Run With The Flow of Your Menstrual Cycle.)

How to Reduce Discomfort During Your Training / Race
1. Eat more spinach or food rich with iron like eggs, red meat, chick peas.
2. You may want to start taking Evening Primrose Oil as a daily supplement. It contains some pain relieving components and helps to regulate your menstrual cycle.
3. Use tampons instead of sanitary pads. Get used to it. My inner thighs chafed during one of my training runs because I used a sanitary pad. Not good!
4. Avoid drinking tea or cold drinks / food during your PMS as it usually worsens the cramps.
5. Chocolate is good. Always have some available in case you need some sugar. :D
6. Sometimes it feels sore *down there* and you know what? I really don't know what to do! I just try and ignore it because if your legs are fine, just keep running!
7. Some suggest taking ibuprofen before you start running your race.
8. If you REALLY want to delay your period from coming, see a doctor or GP about it for some hormone / birth control pills at least a week or more before Day 1 / race. Once you stop taking them, give your body some time to readjust itself and your period will come. I'm not saying that this is a wise move, but I won't fault you if you do. :)

[Note: I highly suggest you consult your doctor on this before taking option #8. But if you want my experience on The Pill, you can email me.]

Is It Normal To Miss A Period During Marathon Training
It really depends on the intensity of your training, your diet and sleep. I find that mine may not arrive on time due to stress, which is caused by work and/or high mileage month. If you haven't been sexually active, I don't see why you should be worried. I'd grab the chance to continue training like crazy!

Can I Make My Period Come Earlier?
It seems like a common practice to consume a lot of papaya and pineapple. I tried it twice and it only worked once. It came a few days earlier but man, it gave me a heavier flow than usual. Phhhbbbt.

Two of my friends try this method and somehow it works for them, too BUT not all the time. They only do this when they know they have to go for an island/beach holiday or outstation during that time.

Otherwise, don't stress yourself too much or you may delay it even further.

Have you heard of Uta Pippig? She's the first woman to win the Boston Marathon three years in a row, 1994 - 1996. She is famously known for winning the 1996 Boston Marathon in the midst of menstrual bleeding and diarrhoea. [See picture here.]

So, erm, go girl power!?

Suggested further reading:
Runner's World Forum has a thread on this.

Further disclaimer: Everything is subjective. Experience may differ with different ladies.


  1. Nothing more fun than waking up on race day only to realize that you're bleeding down under. Happened to me twice, during my first two HM.

    1. Ugh, so inconvenient kan!
      I am hoping it's not going to happen to me for MWM!! *stares hard at abdomen*

    2. With my luck, I think I'm gonna have it in time for MWM. Should be fun. Ugh

  2. Any guys worth keeping should read this. Don't mind if I share it out ya. ;)

    1. Elvin, haha sure!
      As long as you have a hot water bottle and chocolates ready all the time, I think you guys will be winners! :)

  3. I normally know when the wife's is due cos she'll come to me, warn me she's going to be a monster for the next few days and to not get on her nerves ... LOL!

  4. I read somewhere that when you're on your period you're stronger for things strength training because your hormones are more like male hormones at the time. I say "I read" because I personally have not found that to be true either! LOL