Menstrual Cycle, Hormones, And Running

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We all know that movement and exercise is generally good for both body and mind, but did you know that women are better runners than men in general?

No, we are not being gender biased, but we are happy to share why women are scientifically proven to be better runners. Full respect and kudos to the male counterparts, but strength aside, here’s some information why women can really make you run for your money!

 

So, what’s the difference?

Firstly, men have higher cardiac output as compared to women. This means men have a higher volume of blood pumped by the heart per minute (mL blood/min). Men, you also have a higher blood volume or more blood as compared to women.

So with the ability of higher cardiac output and by naturally having larger quantity of blood, men are able to send more oxygen to their working limbs, which in turn provides more power when running.

So, ladies, you may ask. So do you have any chance at all in beating the guys at running? While men are built with higher cardiac output and having more volume of blood, men rely on carbohydrates as their source of energy. Women, on the other hand, use less carbohydrates than men and are able to tap onto fat as energy during endurance exercises.

Since fat is a denser energy source, women benefit from this energy source and are better at keeping a consistent pace. Research has proven statistically that women appear to be much better when it comes to running distance endurance as compared to men.

 

Women are better endurance runners

Women who run will likely relate to the feeling of ‘ugh’ when running during her menstrual cycle. However, the menstrual phase actually affects a woman’s ability to run competitively or even just for fun.

For all women who are running enthusiasts, understanding each of the menstrual phases you go through can make a difference in the time you clock in for that race. Understanding these phases will also be helpful in planning your training program so that you know when is the best time to step up on the training or to compete.

Basically, you plan your running schedule around your menstrual cycle. Understand that there are three main phases that women will go through every month and each phase has its pros and cons. These phases are: Menstrual Phase, the Follicular Phase and the Luteal Phase.

 

The Menstrual Phase comes first, then Follicular, then finally the Luteal Phase, and the cycle repeats on and on, from the Luteal Phase back to the Menstrual Phase and it continues. During the Menstrual Phase, when a woman has her period during the first five days, a lot of blood is lost and the body temperature increases. Often this is also the time where women experience pains such as back aches, cramps, feeling bloated and more. It’s obvious then that this time would not be an ideal phase to increase intensity of training or to compete if you are an athlete.

Next, is the Follicular Phase which occurs during the sixth to 13th day, when a woman is free of the period! This is when the estrogen levels of a woman are high, and it is good for women to run! Take note, this particular phase is the best time for women to run for competitions as well. Therefore, the Follicular Phase is a big YES for women to up their training.

Lastly is the Luteal Phase, when women are about to get their period. The Luteal Phase is right before a woman gets her period, and you know what this means, the ‘oh-very-painful’ symptoms that most women have to go through. This is the phase whereby the progesterone level of a women is high, which means the body temperature is also high. A higher core temperature means that this phase is not ideal for competitive running for women as it will further increase her body temperature. The female body will need to work extra hard just to cool the core temperature down to prevent it from over heating.

So ladies, do take note. It’s neither the most ideal time to plan for a competition during your first five days of your period, nor your Luteal Phase – the time when you’re about to have your period! It’s important to know that the best time to run is during your Follicular Phase, which is during your 6th to 15th day after your period. Mark it on your period app (if you have one), or on your calendar now and have fun running!