Reader’s Roundtable: Does Running REALLY Help with PMS?

imageOhhhhh LAAAAAAAA-DEEEEEEZ!  It’s that time again, time for another edition of Salty Running’s famous Reader’s Roundtable!

Now why does it sound like I’ve taken the train to Crazy Town?  Well, like me, sometime within the next month you too may be able to bask in the glory of your womanhood by forcing tightly packed rolls of cotton into unspeakable places. So pack your bags and let’s all go a little nuts together, because Aunt Flo’s on her way!

Every woman feels differently in the magical days leading up to THE CURSE.  Perhaps she experiences Psychotic Mood Shifts, Pass More Sweets, Pardon My Sobbing, Pissy Mood Syndrome, or the more generically familiar PMS. Scientists insist that exercise (like running) helps ease PMS symptoms, like bloating, cramping and achy muscles.  But what about a demonic attitude? Theoretically, running may help us re-center.

Before running:

  • everyone-in-the-whole-world-is-taking-advantage-of-me!
  • can’t-they-see-how-hard-we-work?
  • why-wont-they-just-offer-to-goddamn-help-once-in-awhile?
  • seriously-do-you-have-to-keep-making-that-noise?

After running:

  • golly-I-am-so-lucky-to-have-the-best-husband ever.
  • I-love-everybody!
  • I’ve-really-been-a-bitch and I-feel-so-guilty-now.
  • I’m-not-mad-I’m-just-going-to-cry-and-apologize-and-hug-everybody.

So I wanted to ask YOU!

Tell us all about running and your PMS experiences! Does running help your pre-period mood swings, bad attitude or the SADZ? Does running help your physical symptoms too? 

A 30-something runner striving to hit that ever-elusive BQ. Mother of two young teens, fan of fantasy/fiction/sci-fi (<-read: geek), with a fascination for tortoises and a love of the outdoors.

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  1. Ok guys. Make me go first. That’s fine.

    I’ve noticed that my cycle has changed over the years. PMS has gotten worse as I’ve aged. Now I get very irritable. It’s almost like a very acute depression. I struggle to battle negativity and pessimism for a couple of days and go from my usual optimistic/glass-half-full self to ziggy under a rain cloud. A day after I get my period … BAM! … the cloud has passed and it’s all rainbows again. It’s weird! Running does temporarily help. I feel better for an hour or so after but it doesn’t make it go away altogether. As for the horrible cramps and awfulness of the first day these days, I often don’t want to run and don’t even feel guilty about it on that day!

  2. Having an IUD is the best thing that ever happened to my running self.

    That said…even though I don’t get a period anymore, I still feel the emotional effects of PMS once in a while! I get extra tired, extra stressed, extra anxious, crampy (I can feel the IUD and it is not pleasant) and grumpy… and running is the best way to combat all of those problems!

  3. I recently switched my birth control from a medium dose to a low dose of hormones, and a few weeks ago I had my first period on the new medication. It changed completely. I switched because before I was experiencing a lot of physical issues – acne, serious fatigue, and extreme headaches. After the switch all of those things went away! And then I became extremely irritable. 🙂 And depressed. I have depression to begin with, and I normally have it under control. (Thanks, running!) But this past time was a damn rollercoaster. I cried driving home from the grocery store for no reason. Cool. Before, I was so fatigued that I had to be careful with running. This past time, running was a breeze, but my psyche was no bueno. I actually had an awesome week of training on my period this month! Whether or not that actually helped my mood swings, I couldn’t tell you.

  4. I’m dealing with this today! I went for my normal morning run , and while I felt mentally better while actually running, once I stopped my mood plummeted again. I think running does give me a better perspective on how my bad attitude impacts my day, and those around me, but it’s still a struggle to keep a good perspective on it. At least it passes within a few days, I guess.

  5. Ooh, perfect post for today. That magically shitty time for me started yesterday afternoon (about a week before Aunt flo visits…) one wrong move, and the hate-fire burns strong… For example – my husband got drunk watching a football game at a bar. Lord save him…I nearly punched him in the face for wanting to take a nap after. Typically, I can work through my evil side during a run – but it has to be long enough… If the hate-fire still burns in my heart, as I’m approaching the neighborhood – I need a few more miles before going into the house…and running is the ONLY thing that can fix it. Though, sometimes I need both running and a decent cab sauv.

      1. Bottomless pit hunger! YES!! I’ve had some serious luck with birth control — first kind I tried completely erased all traces of a period and I haven’t had one in over 3 years (happy dance!) No cramps or mood issues, either, BUT I still deal with ridiculous face-stuffing impulses that seem to intensify once a month. Hard to know if it’s hormonal or just from marathon training. Probably a bit of both, like you said… 🙂 NOMNOMNOM!

  6. PMS sucks. I made it through a half flying pig marathon on day 1 of my cycle. If I had to run it on day 2, I would have had a DNF. If I had to run it on the day prior to my cycle, I would have gotten ticked off at every little thing.
    There is not enough research to make exact advice and medicine is not an exact science. Exercise may or may not help with PMS..

    What NIH says via Pub Med:
    Exercise and premenstrual symptomatology: a comprehensive review.
    “There is a paucity of research on the effects of exercise on PMS. Although the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has advised that regular aerobic exercise may help relieve PMS, to make any evidence-based policy recommendations regarding the effectiveness of exercise, more high-quality research is required.”

    Here is the Medline Plus Topic link for patients.

    I am not mad at the “jerk doctor” comment. I know it was meant to be comical. Had I been on my period, I may have been offended by that as a doctor-runner- haha.

    -Hugs from the Nati (Cincinnati)

  7. Historically, running significantly helped my symptoms. I ran all of my PRs this year while on my period! Horrible race planning on my part. For some reason, the past 3-4 months have been horrible. Not sure if it’s related to being a mom now. Who the hell knows?! I actually had my first DNF at the Indy monumental a few days ago because I thought I was pregnant but I actually was PMSing and my period was just really late. Stabbing pains, extreme fatigue, couldn’t stomach gels or water…UGH! I hope this isn’t a trend!