It’s well known that perimenopause is a time of change in the body. After all, the menopause if often known as ‘the change’! Hormones are fluctuating all over the place and you’ll undoubtedly notice your body altering, both physically and mentally. But does your running need to change too? Is it Ok to continue running in the way you always have done? Or should you be looking to make adjustments to that too? 

First of all, it’s important to remind ourselves that every woman’s menopause is different. Some women have very few symptoms as they go through the transition into post menopause. Other women are really debilitated by the symptoms they have. The severity of your symptoms and also the type of symptoms that you have will determine to what extent your running is affected.  

Most runners have their own patterns of what they run and when they run. These are often determined by when the windows of time are there but they may also be long ingrained habits from time schedules you had years ago. It’s good to look at the big picture from time to time and make sure that your running is serving you well. After all, you give a lot to it so it’s not wrong to want to get something in return.

Reasons you don’t need to change your running in perimenopause 

If your running is going well, you’re enjoying it and you don’t feel that perimenopause is affecting it, then just crack on! There is no right or wrong way to do this. How you feel is the most important thing.  

Despite what you may see and hear online, there are plenty of women running through the menopause, training well and progressing without making huge changes to the way they train.  

However, it would definitely be in your best interests to make sure that you are doing plenty of strength work. That includes adding strength and power building running sessions such as sprints, intervals and hill work into your week. This will ensure that you are building muscle mass at a time when your body is naturally losing it. While it’s not strictly running, you do need to be lifting some weights and doing resistance training for a couple of sessions a week too, again to look after your muscle and bone health. These are really non-negotiables for all women runners.  

Reasons you do need to change your running in perimenopause 

If you fall into any of the categories below then it would be a good idea to take a look at your running and make some changes: 

  • You’re permanently exhausted 
  • Running just keeps feeling much harder than it ever has before 
  • You keep getting injured 
  • You aren’t making any progress in your running despite trying to 
  • You’ve lost your love for running 

Running can be a wonderful tool to help us through the menopause but it can certainly be tricky and very often we need to tweak and change what we do in order to keep getting out there.  

Of course, everyone has bad run days or even a week when it doesn’t seem to click. This can just be one of those unexplained things or it might relate to what else is going on in our lives that affects our endurance and resilience. However, as runners we have a pretty good idea about where we stand, what our progress is and how we feel. If you know that your running just isn’t right and it’s either substantially more difficult to do it or you aren’t getting the same returns that you used to AND you know you are perimenopausal, then it might be time to make some changes.  

What changes should I make to my running in perimenopaue? 

Your running and your routines are personal to you, so are your perimenopausal symptoms, so it would be wrong to tell you exactly what to change. Here are 8 things that might help you, that you could try. They’re based on what we know is happening to women’s bodies through the menopause transition: 

  1. Run less. This won’t be forever but don’t be afraid to run a bit less often. You won’t suddenly lose all your hard earned fitness. Swap out a run session a week for some strength or Pilates. 
  1. Run shorter. The long runs might be the thing that’s tipping you over the fine tightrope of energy balance at the moment. Cut your miles a bit and see how you feel.  
  1. Run fast. Once a week do a short sprint session. A warm up followed by eight times 80 metre sprints with a couple of mins walking or slow jogging in between is an example. This only takes half an hour.  
  1. Run strong. Prioritise building muscle. Ideally through both adding intervals and hill sessions but also through lifting weights outside of running.  
  1. Run fuelled. Avoid running fasted. The way your body uses energy is changing and even if you’ve done it for years it can suddenly become really hard to run on empty. Just have something small rather than nothing at all.  
  1. Run rested. Easy to say and often hard to do but do whatever you can to improve your sleep so that your body has plenty of time to recover, repair and re-inforce itself between runs.  
  1. Run free. Take the pressure of yourself. This is a difficult time of life but it doesn’t last forever. In the meantime, try to keep some joy in running by running without any pressure. That might mean a run with friends, without a watch or a bit of exploring.  
  1. Run challenged. The opposite of point 7 but for some women, having a goal to work towards can be just the thing to spur them on to make changes and keep them motivated. It’s OK to challenge yourself in perimenopause. You don’t have to tread water or just keep ticking over if you don’t want to. Don’t be afraid. 

Perimenopause is the perfect opportunity for us to make sure our relationship with running is a good one and that we’re doing all we can to look after our body and to prepare it for good future health. It’s very easy to just become frustrated and unhappy with our running.  

If you’re feeling that way then have a think about your running routine. What is it? How does it make you feel? How much is your perimenopause affecting it? Which of the 8 tips could you try this month? Let me know.  

If you would like to work one to one with me to discuss your menopausal running challenges and what you can do to optimise how you are feeling, then book a free call with me. We can discuss what you need and create a coaching package to suit you.  

Featured image: Gaimard at Pixabay

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  1. Super helpful, thanks Juliet. I’ve been struggling with my running since my hysterectomy. Every run feels really difficult. I think I needed the permission to change it up and stop trying to push through.

    1. A hysterectomy is a big op and takes more time than you’d think to get over. It’ll come just take it easy and be gentle with yourself.

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