Marathon Monday: One for the ladies

In my last running relating post before the Great North Run, I thought I’d tackle some things specifically related to ladies fitness. Things that aren’t necessarily talked about except between us, because there still seem to be some taboos when it comes to women and sport.

Yep, this post is about boobs and periods, so chaps if you wish to click away, click away now. 

They gone? Yes? Good. 

Let’s start with boobs. No matter your size, or shape, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’re going to need a good sports bra. And if you’re like me and not particularly big, but heavy in the boob section, a bloody good sports bra. 
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I’ve lost count of the ladies I’ve passed running on the road, or in gym class, bouncing around with their tits swinging like a pair of oranges in running socks. I don’t know about you, but I end up half clutching my bosoms in sympathy with a pained look on my face. 

Please invest. No, really, please invest in a good bra. It doesn’t have to be expensive, though I have three Shock Absorber bras and swear by them, I also have an M&S bra I bought in a sale that’s a cupsize too small, that works perfectly. It’s my distance running bra purely due to support and lack of chafing. I’ve even had a couple of good ones for less bouncy workouts from Aldi. You don’t have to spend a fortune. So, when it comes to boobs, these are my tips (often learned the hard way).

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Research. Go into the shop and try them on. Get measured. Bounce up and down in the mirror of the changing room, jog on the spot, watch the bounce. 

Try a cupsize down. This is my biggest tip. I’m a D cup, but tend to wear a C cup. Sure sometimes it looks like my boobs are trying to reach my chin, but they do not move.

Ebay is your friend. We’ve all ordered something, it’s arrived, it’s not quite right and yet we either can’t be arsed, or forget to send it back in time. My last two branded bras were picked up online for under £20 because other ladies had done this and I was lucky enough to be able to take advantage. 

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Wear two bras. If you are larger boobed, you may need to double up – even I use a long bra on top (this one from Nike is my personal preference, but Elle via TK Maxx also do something similar) as not only does it reinforce the boob support, but it also stops upper tummy wobble. Bonus.  A top with a firm shelf support in the top can really help.

If you still need convincing of the importance of a sports bra, check out this ‘game’ from Shock Absorber. And then go and buy a sports bra.

SA

And now for something more, er intimate. 

Unless you are lucky enough to be on a cycle of contraception that means you avoid periods completely (lucky sods), or have hit the menopause, periods are always going to be a downright inconvenience, or if you’re like me, painful, with cramping, mood swings and craving for chocolate. 

Fitness can help – it can’t cure all the problems you may experience, and I know everyone is different, so I can only give you things I’ve learned and experienced, but having chatted to a few friends, there do seem to be a few common threads.

Hormones do affect your performance. How I wish this weren’t true, but I can tell the difference between the week before my period and the week after. I find things harder, I get more tired, and there’s a difference in the speeds I can run and the weights I can lift. I wish I could suggest a fix, but bar boosting yourself with something like green tea and extra sleep (it helps), it’s going to happen every damn month.

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And this is where monitoring your cycle helps. I don’t know about you, but as soon as I’m two days into my period, I can suddenly move mountains. When a run I’ve entered hits this sweet spot, I know it’s going to be a good one. Get to know you. 

Carbs. I crave them in the run up to my period. I dream of macaroni cheese, thick slices of toast and baked potatoes smothered in baked beans. If you’re monitoring your weight as part of your fitness, this can be torture. You then binge, your sugar spikes, and you end up craving again a couple of hours later. What I’ve learned it to increase my carbs in that last week before it hits. Just a touch, not much, consistently consume a small portion with each meal – a slice of toast with breakfast, a handful of rice with lunch – small amounts, but consistent.  It works. I don’t crave things are much because there’s a gentle rise in balanced sugars in my system. It sounds so stupid, so easy, but it’s been a revelation.  

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If you’re like me, I also suffer badly with cramps – I have prescription meds for two days every month that turn me into a bit of a zombie. But I can run, I can spin, and this (again for me) helps. I used to suffer for almost the entire run of my period, all 5 days, but hitting the gym means I can ease the pain and ache a bit just by getting my legs moving. I will admit, my balance is rubbish, so I don’t tend to use weights during those two days and my coordination is shot, so Zumba isn’t going to work, but I can cycle, sprint or jog. This also helps free the, er, flow, so it shortens the length of your period too. 

I know this is the tip of the iceberg ladies. I know I can’t cover pregnancy as I’ve not experienced it, nor the menopause (yet), but I hope that something here might tie in with your own, and help in some way – even if it’s just to sympathise. 

I’d love to hear your own tips too – because aside from one group that I follow on Facebook, this is so rarely talked about. 

4 thoughts on “Marathon Monday: One for the ladies

  1. I was astonished to complete my Bob Graham Round (well hard 24hour route round the Lakes) recently, having got my period after 18 hours of running. My period seems to make me tougher but I suffer , if at all, in the middle of my cycle. Like any physical or mental condition, it’s a matter of knowing how it may affect your sport and then managing it. I never assume that hormones will affect a team-mate or running buddy one way or another, unless they share that info with me, we are all so different. Great to have discussions like this, nothing ‘weird’ or ‘taboo’ about Lady Times 🙂

    1. Thanks honey.

      How the hell you managed 24 hours and with your period 18 hours in I don’t know. I’d have been a proper mess!!

      As ever, I am in awe…!

  2. I’ve just had an AHA! moment with the carb thing. Thank you! I thought it was me just being weird wanting to EAT ALL THE BREAD.

    There is a famous Australian track athlete, Raelene Boyle, who talked about competing with endometriousis (sp??) and she won her medals during her period and she maintained that was when she was at her strongest. Even with all the shitty consequences of endometriousis.

    Great post. Thank you.

    1. Thanks honey – I couldn’t figure out why I fought it so hard before. Give in, just don’t go hitting the giant bar of Galaxy at 9pm because you’ve not bothered all day. Works a bloody treat.

      And yeah, she was kind of the inspiration for the post. Nobody talks about lady time and what effect it has, positive or negative. As soon as I get the first two days of pain over with, I’m blood invincible!

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