Running when you have your period : How to adapt to your menstrual cycle?

Running when you have your period: How to adapt to your menstrual cycle?

Running when you have your period can raise many questions and concerns. You might wonder how to manage pain, fatigue, and discomfort associated with this time. Don’t worry, you’re not alone!

Many women hesitate to run during their period, but it shouldn’t be an obstacle that slows you down. It’s crucial to adjust your training according to your cycle. According to our Running Barometer study, 54% of women don’t feel adequately informed about the impact of menstrual cycles on their training, and only 23% of women adapt their practice.

Understanding Periods and Their Impact on Running

The Menstrual Cycle and Its Phases

The cycle consists of several phases: the menstrual phase, the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase. Each is characterized by hormonal variations that can influence energy, mood, and physical performance. A cycle generally lasts between 25 and 35 days and varies from woman to woman.

Menstrual Phase: This period marks the beginning of the cycle and is characterized by bleeding, known as menstruation. During this period, you may experience abdominal cramps, headaches, fatigue, bloating, and varying levels of pain. It’s common to feel less motivated to train and to experience sudden mood changes or irritability. Estrogen and progesterone levels are low, contributing to these symptoms. Many women also feel a decrease in energy and a more melancholic mood.

Follicular Phase: During this period, the pituitary gland secretes follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which stimulates the production of eggs. Estrogen and testosterone levels rise, bringing several positive effects. Practically, your mood improves, you feel a boost in energy, and your confidence may increase. It’s an ideal time to fill up on motivation and fully refocus on your training goals. Rising estrogen levels lead to improved energy and the ability to endure more intense workouts.

Ovulation: This period follows the follicular phase and corresponds to the release of the egg when estrogen and testosterone levels reach their peak. It’s often a period where you feel light and ready to tackle training challenges. Some women even experience a sense of euphoria. This phase also marks a peak in physical performance, allowing you to make the most of your energy and athletic abilities.

Luteal Phase: After the previous two periods, estrogen and testosterone levels drop while progesterone levels rise. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can occur at this time, with symptoms such as fatigue, breast pain, mood changes, and migraines.

Differents phases of menstrual cycle

Common Symptoms During Menstruation

Menstrual Pain, Fatigue, etc.

Dysmenorrhea and fatigue are common during periods. They can vary in intensity from woman to woman and even from cycle to cycle. Some women may experience mild cramps, while others may have intense pain making daily activities difficult. Fatigue can also be very pronounced, affecting motivation and energy. Depending on the cycles, some women may feel full of energy and able to train intensely, while others may struggle to move and prefer to rest.

Influence on Energy and Performance

Menstruation can cause a drop in energy and motivation, affecting your running performance. Blood loss can contribute to feeling tired. However, exercise can be a valuable ally. Indeed, exercising stimulates the release of endorphins, the well-being hormones, which act as natural painkillers and can improve your mood.

Running during your period can therefore help not only to maintain physical fitness but also to alleviate pain and fatigue related to menstruation or premenstrual syndrome. By listening to your body and adjusting your training, you can enjoy the benefits of exercise while respecting your limits.

Training During Your Period

Recommended Types of Exercises (Low Impact, Moderate Intensity)

During the most intense days of your period, favor low-impact exercises to minimize discomfort and pain. Here are some recommendations:

  • Yoga: Gentle poses and stretches in yoga are ideal for relieving abdominal cramps and reducing stress.
  • Walking: Stimulates blood circulation and helps reduce bloating with moderate effort.
  • Swimming: The buoyancy effect relieves joint and muscle pain, perfect for gentle cardiovascular exercise.

Moderate-intensity activities can also be beneficial:

  • Running: At a moderate pace, can release endorphins and reduce period symptoms. Listen to your body and don’t push if you feel tired or uncomfortable. You can do fundamental endurance sessions and slow down if necessary.

Exercises to Avoid or Adjust

Some activities may be less comfortable or too demanding during your period. Adapt your training according to your comfort level, condition, and needs:

  • High-Intensity Exercises: HIIT and interval training can be too strenuous and worsen cramps.
  • Sudden Movements: Activities with rapid and abrupt movements, like certain forms of dance or contact sports, can be uncomfortable.

Adapting Your Training When You Have Your Period: The New RunMotion App Feature

To help you adjust your training program according to your cycle and continue exercising during your period, the RunMotion app has recently integrated a new feature. Now, you can track your cycle and adjust your training load accordingly. Considering your cycle, the app suggests maintaining your training, doing more, less, or stopping your activity during menstruation, or staying consistent in case of amenorrhea (absence of periods). This allows you to have a perfectly tailored training program to your needs.

Menstrual cycle tracking on RunMotion, running coaching app

Nutrition During Your Period: Our Tips

A good diet during your period can help alleviate symptoms and maintain your energy level. Blood loss during this period can lead to a decrease in iron levels in your body and thus anemia, which can cause fatigue and decreased performance. Here are some tips to adjust your diet during your period:

Essential Nutrients

  • Iron-rich Foods: Consume iron-rich foods to compensate for blood loss. Spinach, lentils, red meat, and seafood are excellent sources of iron. Combine these foods with vitamin C sources, such as citrus fruits, to improve iron absorption.
  • Anti-inflammatory Foods: Incorporate anti-inflammatory foods into your diet to help reduce cramps and pain. Fatty fish like salmon and nuts are excellent choices. Spices like turmeric and ginger can also have anti-inflammatory effects.

Foods That Worsen Menstrual Symptoms

  • Fatty and Sugary Foods: Limit foods high in saturated fats and refined sugars, as they can worsen bloating and abdominal pain. Favor nutrient-rich foods.
  • Caffeine and Alcohol: Caffeine and alcohol can increase inflammation and digestive issues. Reducing their consumption can help minimize symptoms.

Diet and Well-being

  • Natural Painkillers: Some foods can act as natural painkillers. Fresh fruits and vegetables and lean proteins can help relieve your pain.
  • Listening to Your Body: Adapt your diet according to what makes you feel better. Listen to your body’s signals and don’t hesitate to adjust your diet to meet your physiological needs.

How to Gear Up for Running During Your Period?

Running while on your period is not always comfortable and can be risky depending on the flow, but with adequate equipment, you can still run comfortably and feel at ease, avoiding any inconveniences!

Menstrual Protection for Running

To run during your period, it’s important to choose the right protection. Menstrual cups offer reliable protection and reduce the risk of leaks. If you haven’t switched to cups or prefer more traditional methods, opt for sanitary pads or tampons suitable for your flow. The best option remains menstrual underwear that absorbs flow and prevents leaks. Comfortable and secure, they allow you to run confidently without worrying about leaks.

Sportswear to Favor When You Have Your Period

Breathable and fitted clothing made of technical fabrics is perfect for wicking away sweat and reducing irritation. Sports underwear should be comfortable and well-fitted to offer good support. Choose pants or shorts with an elastic waistband that doesn’t tighten the stomach for maximum comfort. Finally, a supportive sports bra is essential, especially if you have breast pain, to ensure optimal comfort during your run.

With the right clothing and protection, you’ll feel more comfortable and confident running during your period, even with heavy flow. Adapt your gear to your needs to fully enjoy your workout without discomfort.

Running During Your Period is Definitely Possible!

Running during your period can seem complicated, but with the right information and equipment, it shouldn’t slow you down. It’s essential to adjust your training according to your cycle to maximize your comfort and performance. By understanding the different phases of your cycle and adjusting your diet and equipment, you can continue running effectively and enjoyably.

To help you adjust your training program according to your menstrual cycle, the RunMotion app has recently integrated a new feature. Now, you can track your cycle and adjust your training load accordingly. The app considers your menstrual, follicular, ovulatory, and luteal phases, offering personalized adjustments based on how you feel: maintain your training, do more or less, or even stop your activity during menstruation. This innovation allows you to have a perfectly tailored training program to your needs.

Candice Davagnier
CandicePassionate about mountains and their landscapes, Candice grew up in the Alps and loves nature walks. She creates relevant content to provide you with the best advice!