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Racing on Your Period

Updated: May 14


Racing on your period? Don't let it hold you back!

If you’ve discovered you’ll be on your period on race day, managing menstrual symptoms like cramps, bloating, and fatigue can be a nuisance. Physiologically, there’s no evidence to suggest that racing during your period puts you at a disadvantage. But everyone experiences periods differently and dealing with menstrual symptoms can be challenging. That’s why it’s important to find strategies to manage your symptoms effectively. 


When it comes to nutrition, consider these strategies to minimize side effects. 


Hydration: Staying hydrated is crucial for all runners, but it becomes even more important during menstruation. Fluid loss through sweat plus increased blood flow can lead to dehydration if not properly managed. Aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day, and consider electrolyte-enhanced beverages to minimize headaches, bloating and stomach issues. 


Omega-3s: Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help alleviate menstrual symptoms such as cramping and bloating. Incorporate omega-3s into your meals through foods like avocados, olive oil, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.


Magnesium: Magnesium plays a vital role in muscle relaxation. Low levels of magnesium are associated with increased fatigue and muscle cramps. Prioritizing eating magnesium-rich foods like leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, and beans can help replenish your body's energy stores and ease menstrual discomfort. 


Iron: Menstruation can result in the loss of iron, an essential nutrient for endurance athletes. Iron deficiency can lead to fatigue and decreased performance. Eating iron-rich foods, such as lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, spinach, and fortified cereals can help. Pair these foods with sources of vitamin C, like citrus fruits or bell peppers, to enhance iron absorption. 


Most importantly,  listen to your body during menstruation. If you're hungry, don't be afraid to eat and honor your cravings while making nutritious choices. If you're feeling fatigued or experiencing severe symptoms, adjust your race day plan and running intensity accordingly.


Proper nutrition strategies can support both your performance and well-being when racing on your period. Maintaining a positive mindset can make a big difference. In fact, exercise can help alleviate some symptoms so don’t be afraid to lace up your running shoes and get after it on race day.


This article originally appeared in the The Connection, TCM's weekly e-newsletter. Subscribe here.


 

Kristy Baumann, RD, LD, is a Registered Dietitian who specializes in working with runners. She is one of the team of Motion Experts TCM has gathered to help its subscribers and participants get the most out of their running. Have a question for Kristy: [email protected], Instagram: @marathon.nutritionist or website: marathonnutritionist.com.

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