roller coaster dr juliet mcgrattan

How hard is it to run a marathon when you’re in the perimenopause? What might be different compared to training during other phases of your life? How might menopausal symptoms affect your ability to train and compete? Buckle up – I’m going to do it and I think it might be quite a ride!

My social media followers will already know that I’ve decided to run a marathon in Spring 2023, the Manchester Marathon on April 16th to be precise. I haven’t run one since 2019. After a few years of running one or two a year, I decided that I needed a break. I’d proved to myself that I could do it and because marathon training takes over your life, I wanted to reclaim that time and energy. I anticipated a year off but along came Covid and here I am now with what will be a four-year gap between marathons.

I’m a different person to the one I was in 2019. So much has happened in that time. I’ve spent a lot of hours on personal development and understanding what I really want from life. I’m also in a different hormonal stage, age 50 and firmly in the perimenopause. I realise that a marathon now will pose different challenges for me. I am however more determined, better at self-care and no less in love with running. I am more than ready for the challenge.

Celebrating with friends after the 2019 Manchester Marathon

I plan to give it my best shot, to train thoroughly and to prove to myself that my opinion that my best running days are not over is absolutely true. That doesn’t mean to say that I’m aiming for a PB, it’s too early for me to pick a target finish time yet. I want to enjoy the process, to benefit from improved fitness and all the other amazing physical and mental health benefits that cranking up your training and nailing a goal can give you.

It’s too far away to start an official training plan, that will come in the New Year, but it’s not too early to consider my concerns, how I can eradicate those and begin getting a good training base.

I’m curious to see how running a marathon in the perimenopause will be different for me and what steps I’ll need to take to make it go smoothly. I’m not worried about it, I just know there will be different hurdles to overcome. I hope that by sharing them it might help others in the same boat. Here are some of the things I’m feeling apprehensive about:

  • The unpredictability. How I feel really fluctuates day to day and is impossible to predict. There’s no cyclical pattern that I can identify. Some days I’m pumped and full of energy, others I’m anxious and my body feels like lead. That makes following a rigid training plan difficult.
  • I’m busy. Like many women my age I’m juggling a lot of balls with work and family. Having done lots of marathons before I’m very aware how time consuming the training is but also how much of your physical and mental energy it consumes.
  • I might get Covid. When I had it before it wiped me out for a few weeks and took me around 8 weeks to get back to my previous running form. That could be a game changer.
  • I might get injured. Alongside increased training comes an increased risk of injury. Touch wood I’ve only ever really had one hip issue due to pushing too hard in a 20-mile race before the Boston Marathon in 2017. I’m not a runner plagued by injury but I haven’t pushed to these longer distances for a few years and there’s a lot of change going on in my body so I wonder if it will hold up.
  • I’m not as competitive as I was. I love running and I love it for all that it gives me. I’ve been happy just plodding along and getting out when I want and going as far as I want for a few years now. I’m not sure what has suddenly driven me to decide to do this. I guess I’m a bit worried this an impulsive thing and that in a couple of months I’ll wish I hadn’t decided to challenge myself! Will I be able to maintain the motivation when it gets tough?
  • The unknowns. I’m aware the perimenopause can be unpredictable. I’m only mildly affected so far and not using any HRT. What if things really kick off? What if my symptoms get so bad they seriously affect my ability to train? I know it takes around three months to settle on HRT which could be very frustrating. I’m a control freak and don’t like that this is partly outside my control.

Do you share any of these concerns? I’m not asking for answers. These are just the thoughts that crop up in my mind when I allow the negative voice to be heard. I know that I have or can find the solutions to these and I will be working through the ones that are in my control one by one as I plan out my training and my next steps. Thankfully, there are so many things we can do to run consistently and happily through the menopause.

Over the coming weeks and months, I’ll be sharing my plans, progress, ups and downs. I’m using #mymenopausemarathon on social media. I’d love you to follow along and join in. You don’t have to run a marathon but why not find a challenge for yourself for spring 2023 and we can encourage each other. You can sign up for my newsletter below to keep updated.

My Run Through the Menopause video course has closed for 2022 but you can add your name to the waiting list and I’ll send you information when it opens again in 2023.

Featured Photo courtesy of Gratisography

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  1. I have run 3 marathons in my 50s, 2 before HRT and 1 after. I wish I had started it earlier as my last marathon training was easier for me to manage even through a hot summer! More rest days would be the most valuable tip from me. I only run 3 days a week now.

    1. Great tip! Three days a week is what I’ve used for previous marathons with an occasional 4th run. Fantastic to hear of your successes!

  2. As I went through early menopause I’ve been on HRT since I was 31 so have no idea what it’s like without. I have found that since covid I have struggled, but I’ve gone back to couch to 5k and I’m prepared that this is a new normal for me and to just enjoy the running. Started to do more cross training and really vary what I’m doing, even trying new things and going back to old favourites. I think being older now I’m less bothered about times. I run for the enjoyment and those fabulous endorphins.

  3. Good luck! There are certainly a lot of potential barriers to women of our age, but I think the overwhelming likelihood is that you will smash it!
    I’ve been on HRT for all three of my marathons, so don’t know what it’s like to run one without it!

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