When deciding whether to train for a marathon I knew I didn’t want to screw up my cycle , and so I knew if I was going to do this I needed to do a bit of research.
According to a few different sites, at my current pace and weight I burn around 90 calories a mile, which means:
- 3 miles = 270 calories burned
- 5 miles = 450 calories burned
- 10 miles = 900 calories burned
While I’ve never really tracked calories, I have been more conscious of the need for me to consume more during this little adventure I’m on.
Now, let’s talk about why it’s important to incorporate that information into your diet.
Turns out that when you don’t have enough fuel, your body starts choosing to support functions that are vital to survival. And would you guess it? The menstrual cycle doesn’t make that list. So, your body can shut down your cycle if there’s not enough nutrition, which results in a hormonal stress response, lowering the levels of estrogen, messing up your healthy cycle.
When you cycle starts not showing up it’s because you don’t have the necessary energy to ovulate.
At first you might not notice anything, but that doesn’t mean it’s not affecting you. Low estrogen affects bone loss, which means stress fractures can be the first sign that something is wrong.
If you keep training under these conditions it’s going to affect how your recover, your energy, and your running, which seems quite detrimental doesn't it?
I have found that my body (obviously) just naturally started needing more fuel as I started running more. I’ve gone from two meals and one snack a day to three meals and two snacks a day.
I remember to eat breakfast, to fuel up before and after runs, and I eat when I’m hungry. And I’ve been keeping an eye on my menstrual cycle.
Because I view the cycle as the canary in the coal mine. If things head south there then I know something is up.
Loosing your period isn’t a good thing, it shouldn’t be a moment of success or relief, or a “I’m doing this right” moment.
If your cycle disappears you need to reassess what you’re doing. Up the calories and lower the amount of exercise. And remember it took a few months or so for this to happen so it will take a few more for it to get back in order.
While there are certainly other factors at play, time and time again it comes back to nutrition. So if you're having issues I alway suggest starting there.
And it should be worth noting the quality of some calories over others. Make sure you are getting enough of your nutrients for good sources. Head to the produce aisle, through in some beans, rice is always easy and great, and happy eating.
Not to mention, coming home from a long run and being able to replenish (stuff your face) with delicious, nutritious meals.