Can You Run This Much and Keep Your Period?

I think between our bodies finally feeling more recovered after St. George and cutting back our mileage just a touch this week, we had successful back-to-back speed days this week!

Our coach had a specific route planned for our workout so Andrew dropped us off and Emilee’s husband picked us up.

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We did a 2 mile warm-up, stretched and then started some marathon pace miles.  We did a lot of hard 200m intervals the day before so our legs were pretty fatigued which made us unsure how the tempo miles were going to go yesterday!  For the first few miles we kept telling ourselves to slow down a bit which we took as a good sign because we felt in control of the pace.

We started with a 6:23 mile and worked down to a 6:05.  We finished and looked at each other surprised over how well it went.  Our coach sure knows what he is doing.

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We did a 3.2 mile cool-down on a road that a friend once sent me a picture of Shalane Flanagan running on when she was in Utah a few years ago so that felt cool to be running where she has been before ha.

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Emilee had protein bars and water for us on the drive home!

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We were lucky to be able to do this workout a little bit later in the morning after Brooke went to school.  Leading up this point we did plenty of 4:30/5 a.m. workouts this year but it’s been so nice to get to be able to start later this week and it has helped us get out of our slumps… we feel very lucky because the sunshine and laid back mornings felt like a treat.

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It was PJ day at school so when Brooke got home from School, Skye wanted her pjs on too.

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Our grocery store has the best sushi.

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Excited for five days with this guy!

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I know my blog seems to be full of TMI but there are just things that I think female athletes need to talk about.  I have received many emails from different women asking if my menstruation/cycles have been interrupted by my training (ps never be afraid to email me about anything, I’m an open book!!).  This year I have been running 80 mile weeks often between ultra training and marathon training along with some pretty intense workouts and trails each week.  I have maintained a VERY regular cycle throughout it all (and I take zero hormones or anything that would force a period).  If my cycles were interrupted by this training, I would absolutely drop back in my running and increase how much I am eating to support my activities better because I know how important it is for my health and I would really love to be able to have a few more children.

I have had ReD-S in the past (2010-2011… the female athlete triad or what was formally known as amenorrhea) when I was running no more than 40-50 miles per week.  For me it all comes down to eating enough.  I was not eating enough back then for 40-50 miles a week and that is why I lost my period (for me to get it back I stopped running completely and increased my body fat and daily caloric intake to get my period back a few months later).  I am running double the miles and doing triple the intensity as I was back then and have very regular cycles because I am fueling my body to complete these tasks each week!

Long story short, it is possible to train this much and keep your cycle and if it were me personally and I wasn’t having a cycle while training this much… I would 100% back off and eat more to get it back!  No race, no clock time, no anything is worth compromising our health.   

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I’m not sure about a question to ask based on the above talk BUT I would love to hear from you about this topic if you have learned anything about it all or what has worked for you!?!?

Are you a sushi person?  Favorite roll?

What’s your breakfast this morning?

Speedwork—> do you prefer intervals or tempos more?

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35 comments

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I’m so happy you’re talking about running and healthy periods, especially in light of the Nike/Mary Cain stuff! I agree it seems to be 100% energy in for me – years ago I lost my period running 30ish miles a week and doing fitness classes, and now I do more and have been able to stay healthy by eating enough!

Great discussions to have early and often with active women!

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Absolutely… the more we make this topic in the light, the less people will struggle with it. It’s amazing that we can do so much more now so much healthier. Congrats Elliot on getting to where you are now! Hope your Thursday is a great one!

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I 100% agree and have had the exact same experience as you – it’s all about eating ENOUGH! I used to have amenorrhea running 40 miles per week with light workouts, and now I have a regular period running up to 80 miles per week with much more intensity. I think a lot of my recovery can be attributed to my supportive husband as well as YOU – so thank you so much for setting a good example. Breakfast this morning was a clif bar before my run and yogurt/granola/blueberries afterwards. I love sushi, but raw fish makes me nervous! Hope you have a great day :)

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Jenny, you are AMAZING! And thank you for what you said. I am with you… I think Andrew has helped me more than anything to truly be healthy. I need your yogurt parfait right now please!:) Hope you have a beautiful day and thanks for sharing!

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I 100% agree with your perspective that eating enough high quality food influences a body’s ability to handle the volume of work/exercise. I know when I fuel my body with nutritionally dense food and keep a normal range percentage body fat- I am able to keep a regular period AND workout very intensely. I check in on my percentage body fat and my percentage muscle mass every three months to make sure I am in the right range. Now that I eat a lot more lean protein, fat, and carbs I feel I can lift heavier weights, do way more pull ups/push ups, and run faster than I did when I was in my 20s and not eating enough high quality foods.

I keep a Pinterest board called “Eat Strong, Be Strong” and I pin tons of recipes that keep my meals flavorful and nutritionally dense! I also tried those power muffins you mentioned a while back and they are sooo good- hard to keep them in stock at our house!

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Seeing the girls in their jammies makes me want to be in mine all day, too :)
I didn’t realize what was happening until many years later, but when I was on summer swim team as a teenager, I would go the whole summer without a period. At the time, I thought it was great to not have to deal with it all summer, but I didn’t know it meant I was pushing my body so hard (even though I was purely a for-fun swimmer, not elite). I fear that coaches are probably not having these conversations with their athletes.
I should do more tempo work, but sometimes intervals seem simpler to figure out for me–fast, then recover without having to maintain pace for longer times.
Love to see you rocking this training!

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Eating enough is super important for so many reasons. Breakfast this morning was Cream of Wheat with raspberries and milk, and new fav sushi roll is spicy butterfish maki…you have to try it! I prefer intervals I think, though some days are good and some are tough, regardless of the workout.
New adventure coming in 2020 after running Toyko on March 1st. I will run my first ultra, Steep Ultra 50k in Newfoundland, which as 7000 ft. elevation gain. Excited and scared at the same time. Oh well, you only live once!

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So cool that you are talking about this! Did you do any pelvic floor rehab after babies to be able to run again? Did you notice a difference in that area after having babies?

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Hey Claire! After I had Brooke I started running way too soon and felt pain there for a while. After Skye I waited enough time and never experienced any pain at all. I did basic strength training exercises and if you are looking for pelvic floor rehab info… here is an amazing person to follow:
https://www.goodfortheswole.com/

Have the best day!

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I agree 100% with the fuel part. However, I want to chime in something I think is not said enough with this as well…….SLEEP. Systems shut down conserve energy for more important. Lack of energy could be coming from lack of fueling, but it could be coming from burning the candle at all ends. In my ammenorhea days, sleep was a needed component to getting it regular again. And we are talking quality sleep for a period (ha) of time.

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I’ve never had problems with training and my cycle but I guess I don’t train a lot but I do eat a lot ;) So good to hear you are taking good care of your body. Food is fuel and we need it. Talking about fuel, yes, I love sushi! For breakfast I usually have some fruit (homemade) granola cottage cheese or yoghurt.

I read the kids have no bath fish left! Let me know if I can make them happy with more of them or with anything else. :)

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I went ages without my period when I was running similar mileage but it was likely to be due to PCOS and partially because of being at to low a body weight.

After I had my son (we did IVF, so I did take hormones to bring on a period) my cycles started to regulate which was surprising because I was in a Boston build up and breastfeeding.

I was eating more and much happier, I think that makes a difference.

It’s a great indication of where your health is at. I wouldn’t ignore my body again

I love sushi! Where I live, lots of places now do all the packaging is cardboard which is awesome for the environment so I can have my sushi guilt free.

I’ve noticed in your photos that Utah looks like a really running and cycling friendly city. Lots of well planned pathways. It looks beautiful!

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a few things:
I love that you are talking about this!
I love that you are an open book!
I LOVE pajama day!

May I ask how much water/anything else that hydrates you that you take in during the day?

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Hey Pam! That is a great question! I will keep track of it all one of these days. I usually fill up my 44 ounce water bottle a few times a day so I’m guessing I get about 100 ounces of water! I drink a lot of hot chocolate too hahaha and bcaas after a hard workout. Let me know if you have any other questions and enjoy the rest of your Thursday!

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This post resonates SOO much with me. I am dealing with hypothalamic amenorrhea now which is unfortunate because my husband and I are trying to have a baby. It’s been super hard to have to cut back on running in order to get my period back, but it is comforting to read this post (and your others about it) and know that it IS possible to train hard and still be healthy/get a period, and get even faster like you have. While I can’t provide any advice on what worked for me to overcome ammenorrhea because I still don’t have my period back yet, my advice to anyone would be to do something about your ammenorrhea NOW and don’t wait until you’re trying to get pregnant. Even if you’re not trying to get pregnant, not having a period isn’t healthy longterm and do what you can to fix the issue ASAP. There is also a book called No Period Now What? that is super helpful :)

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HEY ANNIE! I am so so sorry about what you are going through right now and that is the perfect advice. We can’t wait on this, we have to take care of it now! Oh that book sounds perfect. Will you please keep me in the loop with how you are doing? Please know if you are ever having a rough day with all of this that I’m here to talk to! Good luck, you can do hard things!

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Janae! Thank you so much for writing about this topic from time to time. Few bloggers keep it real like you!

Annie, I am currently in recovery from HA. Period came in September after 4 months “all-in”. I truly thought it would never happen! I’m cheering for you and all other women affected. Stick to your gut and when in doubt, re-read NPNW!

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Annie,
I am also a runner who recovered from HA, and I cannot encourage you enough to go “all in” as Nicola Rinaldi describes. It is definitely hard to do, but my relationship with food, running, and life is so much healthier and more joyful than it was previously. You will be amazed by all of the benefits that accompany eliminating exercise and increasing food intake aside from regaining your cycle. It really works!
Riley

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I had some sourdough toast and an “Immunity Smoothie” from the Minimalist Kitchen cookbook for breakfast. I had a big race this past weekend and wanted to give myself a nice vitamin boost this AM.

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CONGRATS on your race this last weekend! That breakfast sounds like it was just what you needed! Keep recovering well and congrats again Erin!

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I LOVE sushi and we are lucky too since our local grocery has some dang good rolls as well!

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Isn’t it the best to just be able to pick up an amazing roll as you grocery shop?! I hope your day is a beautiful one and you get a good roll soon!

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I had an interesting experience this past year which I think was related to my training load. I’m in a totally different phase than you (I’m 51 and on the pill still), but over the year I’ve had many months where there was no period. Being on the pill and not having a period totally freaked me out when it first happened (and left me in tears in the Dr’s office thinking I was pregnant! haha!). But after my weekly mileage went down, and I wasn’t training so hard, things are a bit more normal. Could just be I’m at that point in life, but I do think it has to do with all the miles I was putting in. Your coach sounds pretty great and he’s taking you in the right direction!

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Oh Lisa! The woman’s body is SO interesting to me and we are constantly relearning these new stages! So glad everything worked out and thank you SO much!

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Hi Janae! This is such a good reminder of how having a period is a sign of overall health. I get really painful periods and I hate it so much and I have definitely wished in the past that they would just go away… I mean I know better now and it’s really cool to hear that you are actually stronger and doing more and harder workouts when your body is running right! Thanks for sharing!

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Oh Amy, that is terrible! I am SO sorry that your periods cause you so much pain and once a month having to deal with that… not fun! Thank you so much Amy and I hope your Thursday is a great one!

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Relating to sushi: my husband and I will be moving to northern UT from SC next month, and I would love to know which grocery store has this wonderful sushi! None of our current grocery options (except Wal-Mart) are out there.
Thanks!

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Hey Laura! What is bringing you to Utah?

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I lost my cycle in 2016 when I dropped from 137 pounds to 107 in less than a year. I am 5’1” so on my that is very noticeable. I was on a mission to lose weight and look slimmer. With that came running for weight loss goals then it turned into a hobby and then a sport for me. I have since ran many races and long distances, and have since had maybe 3 or 4 months of mensuration which only occurred when I gained some weight back. I upped my mileage again after that weight gain and immediately lost the cycle again. So all in all, I’ve had a maximum of four periods in almost four years. I’ve been on things to induce it but all I’m told is to gain weight back or decrease the mileage.
My favorite sushi is a philly roll! I love cream cheese taste with some soy sauce!
For breakfast, I love oats and peanut butter. I eat it many times a day especially if I’m behind on carbs.
Speedwork for me is something I don’t do by any schedule. When I feel great and have a lot of energy (and if the road conditions allow) I throw in some speedier runs. Right now I’m just enjoying winter running and trying to stay injury free by those patches of ice!

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Hey Mackenzie! Thank you so much for sharing your story! You can still run those that high mileage with a period if you can keep your weight up a bit and for me personally I am so much faster and stronger than I was when I wasn’t having a period and a lot lighter! I would love to help you in any way that I can! Keep avoiding that ice… it’s tricky haha!

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I’m so glad you are addressing this! I am 41 and haven’t had my period in almost a year. I thought maybe it was perimenopause so I had bloodwork done to check hormone levels but everything looked normal. I mentioned to my doctor something about do you think it could be not fueling enough and she said if that was it, you would have struggled with that in your teenage years. But, I didn’t run then. And, I run more now than I ever have. So, I’m just trying to figure out if it is hormones or under fueling.

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I 100% believe it is nutrition. At different points I have lost my cycle. Right now I am far too thin and in the past I would have lost my cycle but I haven’t which to me is odd. I am very intentional with what I eat because it isn’t this time that I am trying to restrict, I am having GI issues. I saw my sports medicine doc and we talked about some things and I mentioned my weight loss and he asked me all sorts of questions. He said the only indicator that he can go by if it is a problem would be if I had lost my cycle or had any fractures ( nope). He said “ then go with it”. I am not on board with that, I am nervous but so far, it’s ok. In his opinion my low weight is helping me be able to run ( I have knee issues). He didn’t advocate the weight loss but was realistic and he strongly encourages me to try “ yoga” or “aqua” classes instead, ha!!!
Here’s a fact that many people don’t get too. Being low weight can create an eating disorder mindset. Lots of research is showing that food restriction plays into this and increasing the nutrition alone solves the mindset of feeling the need to restrict. Not as simple as that of course but something to think about. Also more people I think should speak up. I am clinically underweight and my friends are telling me I look amazing.. I don’t even think I do!!
Big sushi fans here, we have Wegmans Groceries stores and they make amazing rolls. I coached my daughter’s soccer team, my teaching background helped a ton. Breakfast- eggs, then a mix of spinach, yams, spaghetti squash, kale, and tomatoes.

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HI~ Curious if you still take the Sports Leg supplements? If you do, has it ever upset your stomach and would you recommend on race day for a marathon even if I have never tried them? Thank you so much for your help…you are an inspiration! xoxoalli

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Great post, and I love how you mentioned that at the end of the day, your health is what matters. I think sometimes we lose sight of this and get perceptual narrowing when we are so focused on that one ‘goal.’ So good to see a discussion on this.

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i LOVE that you talk about this stuff! nothing is TMI in my opinion :) but its always importance topics that we all need to be more open about to one another…so keep it up girl!
i haven’t had a period for years, no matter how little i’m running or what i’m eating. not sure whats up, and of course the solution is birth control, but i can’t be on it due to a clotting disorder…so who knows? blood work always comes back ‘normal.’ i feel like i get in all the good macros and fueling enough for what i do (i’m barely running lately!). such a tough puzzle to figure out sometimes.
love your blog. you’re a true inspiration!

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