I am an athlete. I run. I ride bikes. I lift weights. I challenge myself in sports such trail racing, triathlon and sports that require me to be 100% human powered.
I am also a female. I bleed. I not only bleed when I fall over or cut myself but I bleed regularly, at best once a month maybe every 2-3 months when I menstruate (or other wise known as; monthlies, shark week, aunt flow, on the rag, period.)
In the beginning
I first started my flow (if you call that when you are a teenager, its more a tsunami) at around 14-15 years of age, that is over 30 years ago. Compared to other stories I hear, my journey with ‘that time of the month’ has been pretty uneventful over my lifetime; a few memorable cramps, pimples, mood swings and mishaps but generally my body has received the carnage of the cycle with ease.
I didn’t start using tampons until my late twenties so during school, if swim training or even worse swimming carnival was on the same time as ‘that time of the month’ I sat on the side lines being the number #1 supporter of all those who were not in line with my flow. At times my best friends were sitting alongside me as for some reason, the more time you spend with a female the more ‘inflow’ you become with each other.
Fast forward to my late forties and my periods are ad hoc, inconsistent, heavy, somewhat easy yet a little inconvenient but what I notice more than the actual monthly flow is how my whole body reacts before, during and after the 4-5 days of flow.
Finding your balance
People just think you’re clumsy. You think you are getting old. You become frustrated. You question your ability to function without mishap. And then you check between your legs. Period.
It’s real. The hormone disparity leading up to and during your period are somewhat haphazard. You start to notice the imbalances, the night sweats, the mind that struggles to be as sharp as it once was. You’re somewhat all over the place and you can’t quite figure out why. Period.
As a society we are glossing over these real waves of imbalances and the emotions that come with it. We are choosing not to sit with them enough because we think we just need to “carry on” plus who has time to sit and figure out what the hell is going on with your body? Most don’t. To connect with a physician about this can be long and pointless, after all its just a period and the associated symptoms are just normal right? Just get on with it. Carry on.
Sit. Be. Listen.
The imbalances you feel before you get your period is your body giving you the signs that a wave is coming. Listen. When you do choose to listen you hear them; you hear the senses of your body speaking loud and clear and from here you are somewhat kinder to yourself as you move through this wonderful phase of womanhood.
The monthly curse
We curse the flow. But every woman needs it.
- Slows the ageing process
- Helps prevent disease
- Increases libido
- Better hormone health (& insight)
- Reduces bloating
- Natural cleanser
- Releases liver energy
- Helps prevent bone loss
Not previously thought of much in my teens, twenties or thirties when I turned 40 the word menopause suddenly featured more in my vocabulary; as they say, you can run but you can’t hide. From what I know, there are 3 stages of menopause and for me despite some denial, I am moving through the menopause transition;
- Hot flushes
- Changes in bleeding patterns
- Night sweats
- Changes in skin condition
- Feeling of loss of self (this is a big one for me)
The menopausal transition for most women begins between the ages of 45 and 55 and lucky for us lasts around seven years with the average age of menopause for women in Australia being 51 years. You know you have reached menopause when you have gone 12 months without having a period.
Will I miss it when it’s gone? Maybe. Maybe not. My period has been with me for over half my life but sometimes it’s good to say goodbye to things. Agree?
I still believe I have a fair way to go before I can stop purchasing my sanitary items from Tsuno, one of the best things about my period is supporting this brand who has a story and uses sustainable fibres not to mention certified organic cotton to make tampons, pads and liners.
But I won’t miss the other mishaps that come more so now when I get my period; the random pimple (read: volcano on my face), the bloating, the knocking over of glasses, the dropping of things in the bathroom and the near misses as I drop knives and other kitchen utensils when cooking!
The bloody athlete
There is much to stay about topic and I will leave this for another blog post but what I will say is, I don’t fear the flow when it comes to training or even races; bring on the period I say when race day comes! It’s the week before that I fear the most.
This is when the body is uncomfortable, heavy, bloated, out of sorts and the mind is somewhat disconnected from the body that is in fact a part of the body (the mind and body are all one).
With a period that is now as random as the weekly lottery numbers, I can plan a race and despite my predications being ‘flow on race day’ this might or might not happen because the best-laid plans often go awry.
Female Run Coach
If you are female (or male, we don’t discrimate) looking for a coach who understands how you flow and you want to improve your running and work towards a run goal, then contact me today.