Four ways to improve your running as you go through the menopause
If you are a woman runner who is experiencing a lot of perimenopause symptoms, it may start to feel difficult, or even impossible, to keep running
Running used to be your friend. But now a lack of sleep, aching joints, hot flushes and mood swings, are making you wonder if you should be running at all.
But fear not!
I am sharing four ways to help you improve your running – even if you are experiencing a lot of menopause symptoms.
Go shorter, go faster
Rather than adding miles to your week, think about making the miles you run count for more.
Sprint training has been shown to be good for all runners, including long distance runners. Running shorter can actually help you run stronger for longer.
If you are starting to find running is a struggle, rather than trying to keep up your distance, swap one (or two) of your longer runs for intervals or hill training. Just make sure that you are truly working in that high intensity range. If you can hold a conversation during a sprint you aren’t working hard enough!
And with the higher intensity work it is also important to make sure you give yourself enough time to recover. So an interval day followed by a recovery day makes good planning.
Change your routine
Running in the evening can increase our adrenalin, and increase our body temperature which may affect our sleep.
So, if your menopause symptoms include disrupted sleep, hot flushes and night sweats, it might be time to consider changing your running routine.
Make a note of your symptoms and try running earlier in the day. Does that change your quality of sleep, or is there no difference?
If it’s not possible to change the time you run, look at other things you can change. Do you tend to wait until after your run to eat? Does eating later in the evening affect your sleep? If it does, perhaps look at eating a larger meal earlier in the day and a small snack after your run.
And how about having a cooler post run shower or bath? Does that help to you to get a good night’s rest?
Making these small changes may ease your menopause symptoms and help to improve your running.
Add strength work
If you aren’t already, now is the time to start strength work, preferably involving lifting heavy weights.
As we get older, our muscle mass reduces. And the decline in estrogen during peri to post menopause speeds up this natural reduction in our muscle strength. We need our strength, not just for running but for everyday living. Adding in strength work is key for us to remain active into our 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond.
But the good thing about muscle is that we can build it and maintain it, and the best way to do this is by resistance training.
If you are new to strength training, start off with bodyweight moves so you can perfect the movements, then add more weight. And to help improve your running strength, remember to include single leg work as well.
One menopause symptom that isn’t talked about a lot, although is fairly common, is pain and stiffness in the joints and muscles.
Again, this is caused by declining estrogen and its effect on the connective tissue in our body. Our connective tissue (tendons, ligaments, fascia) loves estrogen, it’s what keeps it supple. Which means declining estrogen levels can lead to new stiffness and a feeling of restriction when you move. Not so great if you are a runner!
But the other thing our connective tissue loves is movement. So adding in work to improve your flexibility and mobility is really important.
That means having a warm up routine which includes dynamic movements and stretches after your run will be key in bringing back that feeling of ease when running.
But don’t just keep it to your runs. Doing yoga or other sessions that focus on your mobility and flexibility will be very beneficial.
With these small tweaks you should be able to improve your running, feel strong, and enjoy it, as you go through the peri to post menopause transition.
And if you want more support during this time, then my Flourish programme might be just the thing to help you feel strong, vital and thrive as you move through perimenopause, menopause and beyond.