As if training for a marathon in the summer isn’t hard enough, female runners have something more to consider than the pollen count and humidity. Sorry boys, we are about to discuss your worst nightmare……our lady hormones.
My training plan said 10 miles at race pace tonight. I managed 9.25 miles at goodness knows what pace.
This was me after tonight’s run. Look at my unhappy little fizzog.
What I am mainly feeling here is sick.
I should have noticed the signs earlier in the day really. I didn’t sleep last night and the resulting tiredness of that on top of having already run 20 miles since Sunday meant that by about 3pm I was braindead and snapping at my usually delightfully eccentric and scatterbrained colleague, Scottish Robbie.
Not long after setting off I had sweat pouring off me. All the usual places and also down the backs of my arms, which is a new and unpleasant development. I’ve heard it said that sweating more means you are getting fitter. Certainly didn’t feel like that tonight.
Further indication that all was not well came when it seemed that every tourist in London was IN MY BLOODY WAY between Big Ben and Hyde Park. It’s not far, but it was far enough for me to actually growl ‘get out of the (
censored) way’ at a few of them.
The shame! At least I wasn’t in club kit, so I only incriminated myself.
5 miles in I had to stop to put some anti-chafing gel on my collarbone, where my running backpack had rubbed it raw (I use the gel for my feet to avoid blisters, which works!). I very nearly had a little cry at this point which is just plain embarrassing – how pathetic to be struggling so much at 5 miles that I’m nearly in tears!
I sucked it up and plodded on, ignoring the pace and focusing purely on covering the distance.
Just after 9 miles, with everything seizing up, unable to get any breath into my body and feeling like I was literally running myself into the ground, the urge to cry came back stronger. I think it was this that finally finished me off – gasping down sobs meant I lost my breath to the point that I thought I may have been having an actual asthma attack (I am not asthmatic). It took about 20 minutes for my breathing to return to normal after I stopped.
A quick check of the pollen count, pollution level and humidity confirmed that conditions were against me, but I felt like there was more to it. I felt horrendous, it was so much harder than it should have been at my current fitness levels. And why was I bursting into tears?
I remembered reading something not long ago about how female runners run better or worse at certain times of the month. The toughest time isn’t when you might think.
According to Runners World:
‘That time of the month’ (or even the few days preceding it) is not the time when women run their worst. The hardest time for women to run fast is about a week before menstruation begins (a week after ovulation). That’s when levels of the key hormone progesterone peak, inducing a much-higher-than-normal breathing rate during exercise. The excess ventilation tends to make running feel more difficult.
So there you have it. I tend to get the red mist about a week before, which is probably why I was mentally attacking tourists and wanting to push cyclists off their bikes when they dared to come out of the Hyde Park cycle lane. This explains why I was having so much difficulty breathing today.
This is something we should all be aware of. For ladies – much as we can try to push through and tough it out – sometimes there are genuine reasons why it’s not your day to try 10 miles at race pace. Its annoying, if only because admitting that our poor little lady biology makes us physically less powerful for a few days a month feels distinctly un-feminist, doesn’t it?
Feeling pretty sorry for myself when I got home (and sick, still very sick) I happened to see this on Facebook:
Tonight’s run was not my finest hour. But I kept going for another 4 miles after I first thought about stopping. I kept going even when it was truly tough, in poor quality air and with my body rebelling and cutting off my oxygen supply. I kept going and completed 9 miles, when I had already run 20 miles in the last few days.
Acknowledging this has actually strengthened my resolve not to let biology beat me, and instead to simply be mindful of when running may be more challenging through no fault of my own or lack of fitness. I can adjust my expectations to suit rather than despairing and giving up. My hormones might make me physically weaker, but just you try to tell me what to do when I’ve got the rage, hormones. Just you try and see where it gets you!
So Mother Nature may have conspired against me tonight. But don’t worry.
I’ll get the bitch next time.