Running is challenging enough and then, along comes the perimenopause! With all its niggles, problems and symptoms, it can completely throw your running off course. Suddenly you lose your motivation to run, you might find running physically difficult or even impossible and enjoying your running can feel like a distant memory. Don’t lose hope though. There is a way through. Here are five mistakes perimenopausal runners make. Disclaimer – I’ve made them all!
1. Just running more. There’s no doubt that running can suffer during the perimenopause. You can often find yourself getting slower and more frustrated. To counteract that, it’s common for runners to just start running more frequently and for longer. It’s disappointing when that doesn’t seem to help and it’s easy to become disillusioned with running. Don’t fall into that trap. You might find that running less actually helps you perform better. Mix up your runs with some short, faster ones, some hills and intervals and one luxurious, longer, easy one each week. Run clever rather than running more.
2. Not increasing recovery time. There’s a lot going on in your body right now. Your body’s repair processes might be a bit slower than they were, your joints ache more and your energy levels need topping up. Although a good night’s sleep might not be happening often (thanks night sweats!), it’s really important to allow enough recovery time after runs. Waiting that extra day if you’re exhausted after a long or hard run can be better for you than forcing your tired body to go again. Make sure you plan enough recovery into your week.
3. Not being kind to yourself. It’s so easy to be down on yourself when you’re in the perimenopause. You can feel as if your body is out of control and changing in front of your eyes. I woke up the other day and my ankles were thick – I swear it happened overnight! The perimenopause, on top of everything else you might be juggling in life, can mean that your running suffers too. You can only do what you can do. It’s important to prioritise yourself but don’t beat yourself up if you miss a run or switch a run for a quick stretch instead. It’s life! Give yourself a break. Don’t aim for perfection. Just take one day at a time and do the best you can on that day.
4. Cutting back on too many calories. When your waist seems to be rapidly expanding, it’s too easy to panic and put yourself on a very restricted diet. You need energy to run as well as to feel physically and mentally well. Make any diet changes small and gradual; they need to be sustainable. Your body needs all the nutrients it can get when you’re a runner and a restricted diet won’t give you those. Don’t run hungry, fuel yourself properly.
5. Not doing strength work. Let’s face it, most runners are lousy at strength work and would rather just run instead. But, there’s never been a more important time to grow some muscles. You naturally lose muscle as you age and need to take steps to reverse that loss. As well as keeping you strong and healthy, muscles will help to prevent unwanted body fat being stored and are a great tool if you’re struggling with menopausal weight gain.
How many of these mistakes are you ticking off? Don’t worry. It’s not too late to make changes. Choose one small thing to work on today and you’ve already made progress.
If you’re struggling with your running in the perimenopause, I have a Run Through The Menopause video course that can help you. You can find out more information about the course here .