Home Training for a Triathlon

"That Time of the month"

Is it just me... That time of the month, affects my training badly. Use as much effort as usual and can only do half of what I usually do at half the effort. Training is so slow and hard for that week. Please tell me I am not the only one? Also, any tips for this?


  • Hi Stillmore,

    Nope - you're not alone! I thought I'd post you some detailed advice here from one of our experts, Dr Cath Laramam (so excuse the really long post). This appeared in our recent Triathlon for Women bookazine - I hope it helps! 

    “Your ovaries and two areas of your brain – the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland – control your menstrual cycle. The pituitary gland produces chemicals that stimulate your ovaries to produce the two female sex hormones – oestrogen and progesterone. These hormones thicken the lining of your womb to prepare for a possible pregnancy and, when that doesn’t happen, hormone levels drop and the womb’s lining falls away, causing the blood loss that is a period.

    Various changes in exercise performance during the menstrual cycle have been reported. A number of athletes have won Olympic medals while menstruating, but some athletes report poorer performance and increased fatigue.The published studies are conflicting but there’s evidence to suggest that reaction times and co-ordination may be a little poorer in the week before your period. Athletes also report that training seems harder work. It may be sensible to try to fit long endurance rides around these times.

    The effects of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) on exercise performance are better known. Nearly all women are familiar with bloating, headaches, fatigue and breast tenderness in the week or so before a period, but you may also notice that training feels like ‘harder work’. In other words, you go through a few days of increased ‘perceived exertion’ during the PMS timespan.

    Some literature also reports an increase in musculo-skeletal and joint injuries during this time in the menstrual cycle. This may be because the hormones released at this time relax your connective tissue – something to be aware of if you’re considering resistance training when you’re fatigued. During these more uncomfortable days, make sure you wear a really supportive bra and reduce the amount of caffeine you consume (which can exacerbate bloating, headaches and fatigue). And remember: a good session on the bike is a great way of working out a grumpy mood.

    Having your period is no excuse to stop exercising. In fact, exercise can help reduce the amount of pelvic blood congestion and period pain. We also know that exercise favourably alters your body composition, making you leaner. Some women are unfortunate enough to experience chaotic or very heavy periods, and this can be made worse by the extra oestrogen produced by too many fat cells in the body.

    Cutting your body fat by exercising and eating well can actually improve your periods and, for some women, improve fertility, particularly if you suffer from a condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

    There are many remedies available for ‘nuisance’ periods, and many women can quickly become anaemic as a result of heavy periods. Go and see your doctor if you’re having difficulties; there are even medications which can delay your period if you really can’t face the idea of having it during Ironman week.

    Of course, training can also adversely influence your menstrual health. Women who perform considerable amounts of exercise on a regular basis are at risk of losing their menstrual cycles and periods – the so-called ‘athletic amenorrhoea’. It’s suspected that low body-fat levels and exercise-related chemicals (such as endorphins and catecholamines) disrupt the interplay of the sex hormones. This is a highly undesirable position to be in because the long-term complications of untreated athletic amenorrhoea include susceptibility to osteoporosis, raised cholesterol, and an increased risk of heart disease and premature ageing.

    Diagnosis of athletic amenorrhoea requires eliminating all other possible causes, such as diseases of the reproductive system. But if you’re not pregnant and you’ve only had four or fewer periods in a year, you could be at risk and you must seek medical guidance. Treatment options include reducing the amount of exercise performed or, in severe cases, trying hormone replacement therapy.”


  • StillmoreStillmore Posts: 25
    Thank you soooo much for this article... This explains a lot lol.

    Maybe I should have a lot of "active" rest days for that week lol xx
  • Very welcome, glad it helped! Have fun with those active rest days… xx

Sign In or Register to comment.