When my monthly frenemy, Aunt Flo, had the audacity to show up the Saturday before my long run, I was a bit annoyed. She didn’t show up uninvited the day before just any long run, it was the longest run of my training cycle: 20 miles!
If you read that first paragraph and turned your nose up to the TMI, you should probably stop reading now…read this instead.
Ultimately, my biggest concern was the extraordinary amount of chafing I could expect from the experience. I tend to run commando…for a few different reasons, but mostly because of the chafing. Plus, fun fact, my Aunt Flo doesn’t take too kindly to tampons in the first few days of her visit. So now not only would I have underwear digging into me, I’d have a pad all up in my business—joy!
I know a few gals who would have skipped the long run and encouraged me to do the same. They would have curled up on the couch with the heating pad, ibuprofen, ice cream, and a movie. And while that sounds extremely appealing, I’m not the heating pad, wallow in my cramps kind of girl. I blame (or maybe thank) my mom for this.
On Friday, August 13, 1993, I had my very first period (yup, Friday the thirteenth). On that day all I wanted to do was retreat to my room and sleep until the pain and uncomfortableness went away. My mom had another plan. She came into my room to find me laying dramatically on my bed in the fetal position. “Get up,” she announced. “You can’t let your period dictate what you do and don’t do. We’re going out!”
My 11-year-old self was pretty pissed about her chipper attitude, and let me tell you, in true pre-teen fashion, I definitely put up a pouty fight over the whole ordeal. I know now that her forced outing is the main reason that I’m the kind of gal who runs for four torturous hours while a crime scene ensues in her underwear.
Even if I had wanted to move my run to the next day, that’s not the easiest either. Three to four hours is a large chunk of time, and a lot of planning, scheduling, eating appropriately, mapping, and weather-checking goes into running for that long. So let’s just say, I was very committed to running 20 miles on my heaviest flow day.
Ultimately, I learned a few things in those 20 miles. Here’s my advice:
1. Listen to Your Body
One of the best lessons in running, and sometimes hardest to learn, is how and when to listen to your body. Maybe it was running 20 miles that was hard, or maybe it was my period, but my body was feeling more exhausted and drained than usual. I took each mile as it came, and walked if I needed to. If you find yourself in similar circumstances, it may be a great time to practice.
Wear your undies inside out so that the seams aren’t digging into you.
Invest in the better quality pads. They are expensive, but they are smaller and somehow magically hold so much more “liquid.” The pads I buy advertise that they hold 10x more than the average pad. The few extra dollars are totally worth it to me!
4. Bathrooms & Toilet Paper
When running any long distance, you have to play the “just in case” game. So be sure to plan your route around public restrooms or large bushes, just in case. As well, you should bring tissue with you, again just in case. Because public bathrooms and Mother Nature aren’t always fully stocked with TP.
Share your #runnervibes in the comments below: Did I miss any key tips for running on your period? How do you manage Aunt Flo and running?