There’s no denying that perimenopause can have a huge effect on your running. From physical symptoms such heavy periods, tender breasts or aching joints to fatigue, zero motivation and anxiety. It’s a challenging time of life to be a runner. But, even if you aren’t having many or any symptoms, there will be days when you wonder if your run was harder or slower due to your changing hormone levels.

Sometimes, it’s just a bad run. All runners have them. There’s often no rhyme or reason and it just happens. How do you know if it’s your perimenopause affecting your run? How do you tell the difference between that and just a bad run? How do you figure out what to do next time to make things better?

Reflect on your run

I’m going to use my run on Saturday to reflect on this and work it through.

I had one hour while my daughter was dancing. I’d already decided I was going to do a comfortable, slow run in a park to get some headspace after a busy week. I was looking forward to it.

To summarise, the run was awful. Here are the things that went wrong or didn’t feel good:

  • I was so stiff when I set off, even a brisk walk didn’t loosen me up
  • I was ridiculously sweaty right from the off and all the way through
  • My breasts ached
  • I needed two wee stops
  • I was really out of breath even though it was a mostly flat route
  • I had zero energy
  • I wasn’t able to let my thoughts wander because I was so focused on how bad the run was feeling.

I ended up doing just under four miles instead of the six I was hoping for and though I didn’t regret going, I can’t say I really enjoyed it! It was a struggle from beginning to end.

What’s the cause?

Looking at that list above, I could blame the perimenopause for every single one of those issues.

But, I can also find another reason why each of those could happen. Here goes:

  • Stiffness. I’d driven three hours in the car on a slow motorway to get there.
  • Sweatiness. It was 24 degrees which was 10 degrees hotter than where I had come from and I was over dressed.
  • Breast pain. My sports bra is way past its best and really needs to go in the bin.
  • Wee stops. I’d only had one wee since I got up and had then been drinking tea whilst stuck on the motorway.
  • Breathlessness. I haven’t been running as much for a few weeks, my fitness isn’t where I’d like and it was very hot so panting was one way my body was trying to lose heat.
  • Low energy. I’ve had a really busy week and I was running through what should have been lunch time so I was hungry.
  • No headspace. This is natural when it’s a tough run.

What can you change?

With this second list, it’s easy to see there were numerous factors affecting my run. This makes it easy to know what to change and how that run could be better next time.

It’s harder to change things if you attribute it all to the perimenopause. You can feel resigned to bad runs and uninspired to take any action. HRT might help some of those symptoms but I’m minimally affected day to day, don’t feel I need it and am happy using lifestyle measures for now. Plus, there’s no guarantee it would improve them all.

Telling the difference

So, how do you tell the difference? The hard truth is that you can’t always figure it out. Here are some reasons that might lead you to think this is the perimenopause affecting your running rather than just a bad run:

  • I’m getting these symptoms at other times too
  • Other areas of my life are affected by these symptoms
  • There’s a pattern to my symptoms (there might not be but for some women there is)
  • I’ve never experienced this before, this is a new thing
  • I’ve had these symptoms linked to my hormones in the past
  • These symptoms are so random and I don’t seem to have any control
  • I know my body and have a gut feeling
  • I already know I’m in perimenopause

In reality it’s probably a mix of both! It’s a case of controlling what you can and changing things and seeing how it goes the next time. Whether it was just a bad run or whether it was all down to the perimenopause, you can make a difference and reduce the likelihood of another bad run. It’s important to make changes either way.

Running and perimenopause

In perimenopause you’re constantly thinking, weighing things up, tweaking, changing, experimenting and hoping. That’s tedious, frustrating and quite frankly exhausting! It can suck the joy out of your running if you aren’t careful. Bad run after bad run is very demoralising. But you will have good runs in between, runs where you haven’t done anything different but it all just feels fine. Hang onto those and enjoy every second and let them help you stay motivated to keep going. You need running more than ever now to help you as you go through perimenopause and into a healthy future. Tweak, change, experiment and stay hopeful. It is most certainly worth the effort.

I’ve put this run behind me. I’ll make sure I check the weather, fuel better, wear a different sports bra and visit the loo before I run next time. I can’t guarantee I won’t have a busy week, won’t get stuck on the motorway again or wake up a few times each night but I will control what I can. It might be an amazing run, it might be a dreadful one but I will still run.

Remember… sometimes, it’s just a bad run. All runners have them.

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Photo courtesy of Gratisography

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