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runDisney & My Menstrual Cycle

Hi all! So I wanted to be super explicit with my title because I didn’t want anyone to stumble in here and not know what they were going to read about. We are going to talk about my period and the struggles I’ve had for over a year now and how the Dopey Challenge (or Challenge Weekends in general) affect my body.

So you might remember from my WDW Marathon 2020 recap that I had really bad nausea when I toed the start line for the marathon. At the time I assumed it was due to just eating weird things and not really being conscientious leading up to marathon day, however, it was actually my menstrual cycle getting wrecked by the early mornings, travel, and, well if I’m honest, my period has become different and more intense in the last 1-2 years.

So why am I writing this?

1) To let others know that might have travel or time sensitive cycles to prepare for this since it has now happened to me twice during the Dopey Challenge and if you are running a runDisney Weekend 5k, 10k, Half Marathon you may experience it too and 2) to talk about where I am right now and what my next steps are so you can follow along on my journey.

I’m trying to live up to that “be more honest” part of my blog focuses.

So let’s go back for a second. Growing up I’ve always had a long cycle (35 days) but an easy period. The couple days around the start I’ll have some acne, some back pain, some moodiness, but overall nothing too major and nothing more than 2-3 days. No debilitating cramps or other issues.

In January 2017, I decided to get a ParaGard IUD (the non-hormonal, copper one) and I read all about how it can make your period symptoms worse but overall my period symptoms weren’t that bad so a little elevation for a bit as my body adjusted to this new foreign object felt like the way to go.

That first month or two was rough. I had cramps that stopped me in my tracks, literally. I would have to pause what I was doing, including while running, until it passed. After the initial cramps it all mostly went back to normal, my periods were a little more intense but were looking like they were going back to normal.

Then late 2017, things started getting more intense again. This was probably due to a handful of factors, including an increase in stress as I started my masters program that semester, but just kept plugging along.

Things were fairly static for a while but then Dopey Challenge 2019 forced my period to come early. When you are running Dopey, you are basically not only requiring your body to run a ton but you also force it into a weird time clock. Basically, we all travel to Europe without actually going to Europe (3am EST is 8am London).

It seemed like a blip and when I got back home things returned back to normal. Throughout 2019 though my periods have become more intense and one of my personal goals for 2020 is to figure out what’s going on and to take care of my body since something is clearly out of whack. These periods are taking their toll on me emotionally and mentally.

My working theory right now is that I’m over producing estrogen or under producing progesterone which is causing heavy spotting when I’m ovulating and more intense periods.

Over the last 6 months or so I’ve been trying to reduce my stress and I’ve tried a few things, like seed cycling, but I haven’t found the “magic bullet” yet.

So when I went into 2020 Dopey Challenge I wasn’t expecting a repeat of 2019 but that’s what happened. My body by 10k evening/half morning was starting to show my pre-menstrual symptoms but since i was still 1.5 weeks away from the start of my period I wasn’t putting it together. My stomach felt full and bloated but I just chalked it up to travel and eating weird things. Since I was at WDW I was happy so I didn’t notice the moodiness but it was probably there.

When my stomach felt off for the half and then I had extreme nausea for the full, again I just chalked it up to travel and putting my body through this ridiculous event.

However, the extreme nausea that I felt on Sunday stayed with me for a few days. I started taking Tylenol on Monday (well I took some Sunday too help with Dopey pain) and that helped so I feel confident in my self-diagnosis of nausea caused by some unusual (for me) style of cramps.

So why am I writing this?

  1. If you have a travel sensitive period you should be aware that runDisney race weekends can trigger that.

  2. To document where I am now and where my journey will take me. I already have an appointment on the books with a Gyno on 2/24 so that’s a step in the right direction.

I’ve been tracking my period for most of my adult life and highly recommend all women do this because it really helps. It’s super nice that Garmin actually has this capability now but you can also use the Apple Health App or I’ve been using an app called Kindara for a while now. You can also do it the old pen and paper way but I find having my tracker on my phone makes it easier for me to update and reference it.

So I want to know your story, have you experienced a race weekend causing your cycle to be weird? What have you done to re-establish and re-normalize you cycle?

I also want to give a shout out to this lady, Kristin (RunFitMama) – follow her on instagram and her YouTube Channel – who has been an excellent resource for my initial understanding of what might be going on with my cycle.

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