KNOW YOUR CYCLE
This is a ladies column and so we need to talk about this - Your monthly cycle! And I don’t mean cycling now. Well cycling and your monthly cycle.
Words by Kate Slegrova
HOW TO TRAIN AROUND YOUR CYCLE?
There is a time in a month when you feel strong and when you are flat. How is it connected to your menstrual cycle?
Not many ladies or coaches know this but you can train according to your cycle.
HIGH HORMONE PHASE
During this phase your hormones are high and you are more than likely going to feel more tired, lazy, more emotional and have more food cravings. Exercise will feel harder than usual. Your core temperature will be higher due to high progesterone and oestrogen level that produces extra glycogen and increases the amount of fat we use for fuel - not exactly what you are looking for when racing or doing threshold intervals.
You can still train and cycle but it’s good to know you will need longer to recover from hard training sessions and your body will need a bit of extra fuel. Even though you might feel bloated and have a crampy stomach you actually need more carbs and good protein. In this phase you can concentrate more on building your general aerobic fitness. As you might feel less stable on bike. perhaps schedule your mtb skills sessions for during your low hormone phase. Don’t push yourself to the limit.
During this time it is also normal to have slight digestive issues, so if you are racing, be careful not to ingest too much fructose as that could make make you feel worse.
LOW HORMONE PHASE
This starts as soon as you get your period and even though you might not feel like it you are actually strong and ready to train hard. Low hormone phase continues for about 2 weeks and then your hormones start building up again.
This phase is great for high intensity training as well as skills and strength training. Your recovery will faster during this phase too.
Supplements to experience milder symptoms of PMS
5 days before your period:
Zinc 45 mg
Tart cherry juice 15ml dose
Take these supplements every evening after your meal about 5 days before your period is due and you should feel marginal difference. Recommended by Dr. Simms who specialises in females and training. I can highly recommend reading her book, Roar, if you haven’t yet.
Another thing to consider if you have bad period symptoms is to try an IUD. Most doctors recommend it especially for athletes as it's a local hormone and works so well without any bad side effects. You almost don’t notice your monthly cycle then. I have had a Mirena IUD since having my daughters and it’s been great - I barely suffer from any symptoms these days.
If you don’t get your period after training hard and or from keeping your body weight low, you might be pushing your body too much and be as a result be malnourished. You also run the risk lowering your bone density which can be a problem when you get older.
When you have bad cramps and you feel like you can’t exercise, do yourself a favor and do something. As soon as you start moving the blood has to pump into your muscles and the period cramps ease off. Try some light strength training or gentle exercise. Sometimes my clients miss their training because of bad period cramps but actually once you get going you feel much better.
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