I am racing this week!
Yes, I did race a couple weeks ago. And that race was no joke. A sprint triathlon is most definitely a worthy goal—it hurts like hell and there is little room for error.
But, that race was not an “A” race. I had thrown it into my schedule last minute as a way to be more prepared for this week. Did I show up and give my all? Did I love it and have loads of sweaty, heart pounding fun? Absolutely!
But this Sunday I get to race the distance I have been preparing for (now for years). I will race Ironman Lubbock 70.3.
If you follow me on social media and are a regular blog reader you know that I have been navigating a lot of the amazingness of life. I was able to stay present for the end of my kids’ unique school year. I have planned and celebrated all of the rites of passage moments with my now graduated oldest child and only daughter. I took on a new contracted coach and educator position with LiveFeisty, a company focused on cultural change.
And I have kept training. Hard. I am ready to race as the post-pandemic version of me. I am ready to race as a woman.
And according to Garmin Connect I will get my period three days before the 70.3. YAY!
Now, before I continue— I am sure that statement and my reaction stirs up conflicting thoughts and feelings. Some have already tuned out and moved on. Some of you are curious or feeling empathetic. Some of you are grossed out, irritated, or unsure. Some of you are fist pumping, smiling, and clapping—relieved that someone is willing to acknowledge a real part of being a menstruating female athlete.
I urge you all to stay with me, even if it makes you a little uncomfortable. All of the men and women. It is okay to say period. And tampon, menstruating, vagina, bleeding, uterus, menstruating, etc.
We need to stop scientific facts related to female physiology and anatomy from being considered taboo. It is up to all of us to change the conversation around periods for female athletes of all ages.
Why and How (the quick and general notes)?
- Female athletes need to be able to talk to coaches and other mentors about their menstrual cycles and how they feel during different times of the month. We need to be more open on this topic so that we can inform others when we miss periods, which can be indicators (but not the only ones!) of Low Energy Availability (LEA) and Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S, formally known as the female triad). The more open and comfortable girls and women are the more of the chance they have to continue in their sport as healthy athletes.
- Women need to be able to discuss our monthly and life cycles in order to work with them to keep performing at our full capacity in our sport. When we can talk openly about our physiology we can more easily work with it.
- Men can support women by checking their own biases surrounding female related topics and allowing open conversation at home, on the field, track, court, etc. Men can role model this behavior for boys. Male coaches- rid your minds and areas of influence of the negative stigma surrounding bleeding. Seek education on LEA and RED-S and stop considering girls and women missing their periods as normal or even a positive in training/racing.
You also might find it to be alarming and confusing that I am sincerely hopeful that Garmin Connect is correct. I am a perimenopausal woman with irregular cycles, and so nothing is a given. But, I would prefer to have my period during a five hour race than to try to perform my best during the seven days leading up to bleeding. I will accept my fate of carrying tampons and a potential bloody mess.
AND, the great news is that I am also confident that if things change (as they often do), and my period is late, I have the tools to mentally and physically work WITH my unique female physiology to understand and mitigate symptoms of the high hormone phase of my cycle.
How will I train and think like a woman leading up to Sunday?
- As an educated female coach working with female athletes I have a lot of information readily available to serve me… or, if I allow it, derail me. I get to choose how I use it. I will remain intentional in reminding myself to stay present and connected to my mind. I will seek understanding and aim to not dwell, but to trust my body and knowledge. I will visualize potential obstacles and success. I will practice mindfulness and focus on thoughts that serve my goal. I will use my knowledge as a strength, not as a reason to panic or make excuses.
- I will remain physically aware and connected to my body. I will mitigate PMS symptoms— starting seven days ahead of my period by taking a cocktail of 250 mg of magnesium, 45 mg of Zinc, 80 mg of baby aspirin, and 1 gram of fish oil.
- I will focus on my predetermined protein intake, specifically high in leucine. I will prepare a protein shake for Jamie to bring to the finish line to drink within 30 minute of my finish to promote recovery. If I get my period I will keep my carb intake the same (women don’t benefit from carb loading like men do!). If not I will focus on taking in extra carbs during the race.
- If I have PMS for the race I will up my sodium intake pre-race even more than planned to accommodate shedding more sodium. I will take Tums to combat GI distress.
- I will be mindful of staying cool in the 24 hours before the race. I will freeze my nutrition bottles and apply sunscreen on race day. I will use my knowledge and experience as a long time athlete and coach to plan to dial back my effort accordingly to accommodate the 95+ degree forecast. No excuses, but smart execution for my endurance race.
- I will not leave things to chance while traveling! I will have a plan and take whatever I think I may not find near our VRBO.
So, bleeding or not- I am ready. I am thankful for my knowledge and embrace my physiology.
I will show up as a feisty female to kick ass.
Intrigued? Want to learn more and celebrate being you with a group of like-minded, driven athletes? Join me at the Feisty Team! We are revolutionizing how we think, train, and race as female athletes. Check us out at: https://www.feistytriathlon.com/