Retching or Kvetching – Can My Cycle Affect My Running?


Meg has written 31 posts on Salty Running.

I'm a married, step-mother, the 4th of 5 kids. I'm livin' the dream as a manager in retail, putting that English degree to great use. Oh, and I'm sarcastic.

Sea Sick

Probably how I looked. (Photo credit: Raymond Larose)

Oi Vey!  What a week I had.

I was working on running 10 minutes straight.  So, according to the plan, I started out with a 5 minute brisk walk, 10 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking, 10 minutes of running, and then finishing up with a 4 minute walk.  The “think I can” mindset was leading me into the week.  This is where I was headed weeks back when the ovary interrupted.  It was exciting to think I was finally getting close to longer stretches of running.

So, the shoes were laced-up and I was out the door for the first day of this routine.  It.  Was.  Tough.  My legs felt like rubber with a smoldering burn working its way up.  I did have to pause for a minute with a terrible side stitch.  But, I got back at it.  To my surprise, though, my heel did not bother me, despite some pain I was having with it.  Anyway, I made it home and told myself it would get easier each day.

The next couple of times out weren’t too bad; I was really starting to believe it would get better.  The temperatures have been so nice, and the cool breezes have been quite comfortable.  WOO-HOO! 3 runs down and 2 more to go for the week.  I was more than halfway.  My confidence was building.

10 minutes straight?!?!

Day 4!  Now we’re cookin’!…Or so I thought.  I started out and was going strong, and early on I could feel I was finding my stride and was on my way.  Then, during the second half I started to think about the next phase of my training plan, when I’d have to run 20 minutes straight.  A few minutes more was all I had to do, I knew I was almost home and just had to run a tiny bit farther.  The inner monologue was telling me to push through, it was just a little further, and I could so do this.  I’d already done it other days, so I knew it was possible.

Then it happened–the dry heaves.

I stopped right at that moment and paused the watch, determined to pick-up where I left off once this passed.  But the retching wouldn’t stop.  I was doubled-over and looking down at some shrubs, afraid there was going to be actual vomit pouring out on those unfortunate plants.  That didn’t happen, thankfully!  Vomiting while people pass is probably worse to me than having them view lumpy, dumpy, and plumpy do the running jiggle.  At that point, I surrendered.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to pick-up where I left off and I walked the rest of the way home.

Not gonna lie, I was really disappointed.  Questions started to fill my head: Did I push too hard for the first 10 minutes that I didn’t conserve enough energy for the second?  Was I foolish in the route I selected?  Did I block myself mentally?  Was I not focused enough on the current run because I was starting to think about the next phase of running 20 minutes straight?  I really wondered if I psyched myself out.

But, I had other thoughts, too.  Maybe I’m looking for an excuse and not a reason, I don’t know.  Anyway, I feel ridiculous about bringing this up, but I was thinking about things that were different from the other days and one thing was my period.  It wasn’t the first time I was hitting the trails with my period, but the previous times were fewer minutes of running installments or with the ovarian cyst giving me grief.  So, did my normally-menstruating-body have some kind of reaction to a longer stretch of running?

Salties, can you help answer my question–does menstruation have that kind of influence on our running bodies?  Is it just another thing I have to adjust to? Or can you think of another reason this happened to me?

Oh, and my last question:  Who was the genius behind the “Have a happy period!” slogan for a certain feminine product?

Really? Happy?

4 Responses to “Retching or Kvetching – Can My Cycle Affect My Running?”

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  1. J. says:

    I haven’t noticed in difference in my running, but from what I’ve read it’s a very personal thing & varies from woman to woman. Some women even have days in their cycle they can’t run at all.

  2. Salty Salty says:

    I tend to get more frequent side-stitches and GI distress of all sorts the first day of my period. I can usually still get in the race or workout, but I’m never as fast as I am on other days either. I ran my second half marathon ever on the first day of my period and was fine until I finished and then puked all over the finish chute! You’ll figure out how it affects you and be able to adjust your expectations of yourself accordingly. You’re soooooo not alone :)

  3. Clove Clove says:

    Very interesting topic, and there’s actually been quite a bit of research done on it. The general knowledge I’ve gathered from such research is that it’s actually the three to four days BEFORE your period (PMS, anyone?) that most negatively affect your running in terms of pace, oxygen uptake and performance, and that’s probably related to dropping progesterone levels.

    That said: I’m with Salty. Days one and two are terrible for me, most specifically in terms of GI distress. I never leave home without tissues or toilet paper and I choose routes that allow for bathroom stops if needed.

    Maybe your GI distress was just going in a different direction.

    However, having been through beaucoup infertility treatments, I have no doubt about the effects of hormones on running performance, so I wouldn’t be shocked at all if you were onto something here.

  4. Heidi Johnson says:

    Nutmeg, I definitely run slower when I am on my cycle. I ran a 3 mile trail run last week on day 3. I finished slower than usual and ended up crossing the finish line with a pack of middle-aged men I played YO-YO with the whole race. I get fatigue from cramping and restless sleep during the 2 days before and on day 1 and 2 of my cycle. I use Platex sport tampons and overnight pads on runs. I eat smaller meals and avoid salty and sweet junk foods to minimize bloating. Sometimes I have a protein drink instead of solid food an hour before I run (and TUMS). Often I soak in the tub before and after my runs when I am on my heavy days. This revitalizes and relaxes me. The best benefit is that I sleep better on the days I work out.
    Hang in there!- Hugs from the Nati- HJ.

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