Periods, Running, and a Household of Boys

For years I have fought with the natural cycle of my body. My period would arrive and I would be like, “Ugggh one more thing to manage around everything else I am doing.” Now instead of resisting and fighting with my body’s natural cycle and the inconveniences it brings to running, mothering, and working…… I work with it. 

Once a month my cycle acts like a siphon of much needed energy for my brain and muscles. It stresses my nerves, patience and hijacks my sense of humor (ask my husband about that one!). During this regular scheduled monthly occurrence I am afraid to be around anyone for fear that I have been possessed by someone unrecognizable to the outside world who will wreak havoc on my skills and relationships. 

Then, one day the light bulb came on. I don’t know if it was when I was trying to manage stuff  in the bathroom with my little boys busting in and out, or if it was talking with my amazing coach that enlightened me to to stop fighting the cycle and work with it instead.

One week out of every month since seventeen years old I have lackluster energy and little desire to exercise let-alone train for anything. Yet, I muddle through with junk miles and poor recovery for fear of losing fitness. Ha! The irony is that the junk miles hurt me more than helped. Once my period had passed and energy level returned to normal my body was stuck recovering from the slog the week prior which hurt more than helped.

I complained about this to my coach and she proposed what today seems so obvious. She said, “Listen to what your body is telling you. Slow down. You feel tired and overwhelmed. Slow down everywhere, and offer yourself  the kindness and understanding you give to everyone else.” So I did. Now I schedule training on a three-week cycle. On the fourth week I give myself permission to “do” and run less. I run no more than three miles, three days that week. I also got really honest with people I deal with on a daily basis about my cycle and instead of taking on more I take on less. 

The first time I did this I was nervous about it hurting my ambition and fitness. It didn’t. In fact, I came back stronger, faster, and more organized. It sounds too cliche to be true but it is the truth. Instead of putting my body in a hole that I needed to climb out of I maintained. I gave my body time to adapt and it worked.  

Each month when the lack of energy (which is now more intense than it was when I was seventeen ) begins to set it I count the days on the calendar and prepare to move into an easier gear (pun for you bikers intended). Of course, there is a moment where I lament this forced slow down but than I remember how much better I feel when I work with my cycle instead of fighting it.

Working with my cycle also means being honest with the boys in my household about what and why mommies sometimes need a little potty break …..alone.  They get it. They also now know it isn’t their fault when I don’t laugh at something I would usually find funny. Why fight nature? Being upfront and honest about womanly needs that enable human existence in this world is really not too much to ask.