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Dealing with a period when exercising

reading time: 3 minutes reading time
Handsome woman running on a jogging track outdoors

I didn’t do it to gain attention. I didn’t do it so I could brag about it on social media. I didn’t even do it to get one over on the guy who made a hurtful comment about my appearance. I did it because I’ve been making excuses for too long, and it was time for that to change.

When I said that I’d take part in the Rotterdam Marathon there were a few people (myself included) that laughed at the idea. I mean, let’s face it, life’s a marathon in itself, so running one would be madness. But I thought to myself, ‘Why can’t I do this? What’s stopping me?’

I trained regularly, got myself in shape, started eating healthier, all in the name of fitness. The race is a few days away. I’m feeling confident, I’m feeling ready, nothing’s going to stop me and then, bang. I’m on my period. Confidence shattered. I ask myself that age-old question ‘Why now?’

Then the excuses start to surface. ‘I don’t feel well’, ‘My knee hurts’, ‘My dog’s eaten my shoe’. Anything that means I don’t have to be on that start line. But I made a promise to myself that I was done with excuses. This was just one a life’s little hurdles that I had to overcome.

After some digging around online, I found some useful tips that I could use going into the race. And they worked. I finished the marathon in around 5 hours (hey, I never said I was a pro) and I felt great. The next day, not so much.

The point is, I didn’t let my period beat me. I found ways to make the whole ‘experience’ less traumatic.

My top tips for dealing with a period when exercising:

Dress for success:
It doesn’t matter if you’re a tampon or sanitary towel kind of girl, just make sure you have a clean change before you exercise. It just means you can stay as fresh as possible. All that jigging around may increase flow.

Be pain relief ready:
Around 90% of women suffer from menstrual pain, so timing your pain relief is a great way to get up and active and avoid doubling over. Take a painkiller or similar medication about 30 minutes before you begin to train, and you should find that you function a lot better.

Stay hydrated:
Drinking water when you exercise is a no brainer, and drinking less water doesn’t help with water retention. Most women tend to drink more when they’re on their period. Drinking around 2 litres of water each day, and more when exercising allows you to stay healthy and hydrated during workouts.

Consider spacing your periods:
If you use a contraceptive pill, you can keep taking the hormonal tablets to skip periods that are going to arrive at an inconvenient time. Don’t wait until your marathon is just around the corner, plan ahead and you can make sure your period doesn’t show up at all. Another option is to take a pill with an extended regime to reduce the number of periods you have, meaning your exercise will be less affected all through the year.

When your period comes, it’s tempting to hide under the covers and wait for the bloating, irritability and cramps to be over. Energy levels are pretty low, so it’s no surprise that many women put off exercising. But experts say that moderate exercise can actually be really helpful. It can reduce the pain and bloating, it releases endorphins and it can even give you an energy boost. Motivation is the key! Don’t use your period as an excuse not to exercise!

To find out more about periods you can read more here.