Girls hardly talk about challenges while running during period openly even though they are common problems faced by many female runners. Sometimes, we would pray very hard not to get our period during running events so that we wouldn’t have to worry about what to wear, what pain would strike us while running, extra items to bring for the run and the list goes on. All women have different problems and symptoms, and they do in a way or the other affect performance; bloating, headache, stomach cramps, heavy bleeding, hormonal imbalances and others. Whatever the challenges may be, there are ways to overcome.
The nashata runners decided to put together some best practices based on our experiences and share with our sisters.
- Plan your race
Before you register for any running event, check your menstrual cycle and see if the date falls during your period. Avoid racing on the first two days or during heavy flow. If you are comfortable to run during period, go ahead and register.
- Consume the right food a week before the race
Balance hormones and a well nourished body help reduce pain, cramps and mood swing. Every body is unique, hence there is no food combination that fits all. However, you can enrich your body with the right nutrients to:
1. Balance hormones
Consume food that promotes hormone balance. So girls, avoid taking too much sugar and processed food but do ensure you consume sufficient protein. If you suffer from headache during period, sometimes it means your estrogen level is low. Therefore, you need to eat natural food high in phytoestrogen to increase estrogen level. You can try green vegetables like broccoli and green beans, while fruits like dates and apricots, seeds and grains like flax-seeds and sesame seeds are among the delicious high phytoestrogen food.
2. Reduce cramps
Eat natural food that is rich in calcium & iron like spinach and chickpeas. Other natural food that contains magnesium, vitamin B6, potassium, bromelain like bananas and pineapple helps to relief cramps as well. If you like something meaty instead, add salmon into your diet. It is rich in Omega 3 and vitamin D. Lastly, add dark chocolate moderately into your diet!
Keep body hydrated, drink plenty of water.
- Prepare Feminine Kit
Make sure these item fit in your pockets / running belt together with other items
1. Sanitary Napkin / Tampon
We find tampons are not favorable among runners. Perhaps many do not feel safe with the method all together. Therefore, if you use sanitary pads, make sure you get the ones with surfaces gentle for skin and ultra thin. Look at the product description and search for the ones labelled “cottony surface” and avoid dry surface, micro-dry cover or dry net sheet. If you have sensitive skin and plan to run long hours, avoid wearing the ones with wings. This is to avoid chafing, blister or abrasion on your skin. Estimate and pack enough for your run. Wrap sanitary pads discreetly in a plastic bag before you toss into your pocket.
We found out later from other runner that period cups are also suitable for active ladies.
2. Pain killers
Sometimes the pain can be unbearable and pain killers can help you focus on your run instead of enduring the pain. So bring along a couple of tablets with you.
3. Ointment (if necessary)
If you know certain remedies that could reduce pain and discomfort just bring it with you. Pack your remedy in a travel-friendly size.
4. A few pieces of tissue paper
Just in case you don’t find any in toilets
- Know the Route in Advance
Make sure you study the route and know the location of toilets and portable toilets. Pace, time your run and stop accordingly depending on your condition
- Pack Clean Dry Clothes
Pack your best post-running outfits and bring to the race!
Prepare your body. There are a few yoga poses that can relief cramps and period pains. You could take a few minutes of your training to perform Cobra Pose and Camel Pose that can be therapeutic for mild back pain and menstrual discomfort
- Wear suitable attire
Dark color pants would make you feel more confident. Wear pants that have pockets for you to carry feminine kit. Wear sanitary pads that are as described above or other preferred insertion methods like tampons or cups. Soft lining, non-wings (to avoid chafing), ultra thin.
- Estrogen-Friendly Bar
Know the nutrients you need for your hormonal condition and packs them in a form of bars for the race. You can make your own or you buy from Marathon Baker. Find the ones made of dark chocolate, flax-seeds, bananas, dates, apricots and turbo-charged with protein.
- Access Health Level
Before you start the race, listen to your body. If you are suffering from severe period pain, headache or heavy bleeding before flag-off, don’t push yourself. There will always be other runs.
- Stop and Seek Help if in Pain
Time and pace your run and know where and when to stop to check your period (based on your flow). As much as you wanted to perform, if you feel pain while running, give yourself a break, and if paramedics are easily accessible, get help from them. You can also make use of feminine kit you have packed to relief yourself; pain killer & ointment. When your condition improves, continue the race. Again, listen to your body all the way to finish line.
- Focus to Finish the Race
Chin up and keep running. Focus to finish strong!
- Quickly Change into Clean Outfit and Rejoice
Make yourself feel better by changing into a clean outfit immediately after your run.
- Replenish Your Body Immediately
Bananas and fruits are good for immediate consumption. If you are a slow runner, be prepared to reach finish line to find no food available for you. Therefore, if you are running long distance, pack some fruits (don’t carry them with you at the run).
- Improve Preparation for your Next Run
Every body is different and what works for you may be different from others. As long as your remedy works for you, keep doing, keep improving your run during menstrual period.
Good luck girls. Hope our collective tips are helpful!