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To Run or Not to Run

To be a runner you need to run. It has been 6 days since I have gone for a run, and week by week my mileage is waning and I am feeling less and less like a runner. Last weekend I determined I would try to run a couple miles every day, but it never happened. My hip and back did not feel right and I did not want to exacerbate something that was out of alignment. My coach attributed my back and hip issues to running. But I hadn’t really been running any measurable mileage for quite a while.

When I thought about it, I actually realized the opposite might be true-that since I have stopped running, my body has changed. I have lost weight because I am not needing to fuel as much, my digestion has changed, and overall I am less active-all things that are a result of not running 3-4 times a week. A year ago I was running an average of 15 miles a week, even when I was not training for something. That number has now dwindled to under 10.

I first started experiencing some hormone related issues a month ago, but did not attribute it to anything other than holiday eating, traveling, and not running regularly. After 10 days of feeling like crap, I felt great again! Until a week ago when the lower back ache, digestive issues and overall crankiness reared its ugly head again. If my coach hadn’t brought up the subject of running, I might not have put two and two together. But he did, and then I realized there was a pattern developing and perhaps it lead back to the decrease in my running.

It is true running stresses your body and joints, but running also benefits your body in so many ways. In this Runner’s World article, physiologist Dr. Stacy Sims talks about how running (and regular exercise) can help regulate the body’s hormones during pre menopause for women.

Numerous studies, including one by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, have found that regular, sustained aerobic exercise can help to relieve menopausal symptoms. Ellie Brown, a running coach and teacher trainer for Body Control Pilates students, agrees. She incorporates yoga and strength training into her own fitness regime and has designed an exercise programme for women going through the menopause.

“We need, as perimenopausal/menopausal women, a mix of strength, flexibility and aerobic exercise. It is not enough to pop to a yoga class once a week; we need to run, swim, cycle, jump about and move.”

The Guardian, Jan 15, 2015

I realized pretty quickly, that now, more than ever, I need to maintain my activity level, including my 2-3 strength and conditioning workouts a week, by running regularly. The physiological changes I am going through are real and more rest is not the answer-smarter nutritional choices and training should do the trick. I am not sure where I am in this cycle of life, but rest assured I am somewhere along the continuum and need to be more more mindful about how my body is reacting to fueling and fitness.

  • With the onset of menopause, estrogen and progesterone diminish.
  • Dropping hormones lead to a slew of changes that can make exercise feel harder, including less-compliant blood vessels (blood pressure changes are slower); it also gets harder to handle the heat.
  • Menopausal women are more sensitive to carbohydrates, so they have more blood sugar swings and need less carbohydrate overall.
  • Your body uses protein less effectively at this time of life, so the type and quality of protein you eat and when you eat it become very important to build and maintain your muscles.
  • High-intensity power training is really important once you hit menopause to prevent muscle loss and weakness with age.”

Excerpt From: Stacy T. Sims & Selene Yeager. “ROAR.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/hJn7_.l

So back to running; there is no break, really, except a break in formal training. If you are a runner-you run.

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