Professional Development,  Research,  Teacher Reflection

Endurance Athlete – as a woman

Mel Hamada, August 2019

This past week, the name Stacy Sims has cropped up on my radar. First was as I ran around the lake one early morning, as I listened to the Purple Patch Podcast and then as I had a virtual coffee with a former colleague as we chatted about inspiring media and this TedTalkX came up (Stacy Sims) and then as I chatted to my coach, Adam, he mentioned to me that he had listened to a webinar from Sims, and I knew that the stars were aligning for a reason.

I have been much more reflective on how much nutrition and my hormone cycle dictate my training success. I have been using my Garmin watch to track my training and also note my menstrual cycle to better understand how my body is feeling and when it feels best and when it doesn’t. I have been using the Calm app to check in on how I am feeling generally and make notes on things I am noticing.

But, once I listened to Stacy Sims and started to read some of her work as it is laid out for laypeople I started to connect some of the underlying wonderings I have had for some time now. Why do I feel so awful at this time? Is it due to overtraining (I suspect not) or is this a hormonal moment (and why now? and what does that mean?) or is this a nutritional issue (massive cravings and not eating well-meaning that the next day is much harder to get up and go) and how are my emotions, moods, motivations and overall feeling of the body as well as my menstrual cycle fitting together – and how might I plan better for this – kind of like Daniel Pink in his book When – instead of What should or could I do (this is also a question that is important but maybe it isn’t the most important at the moment) maybe what I need to know is When should I be… eating, post-workout? when should I be focused on endurance v Intensity v Strength training – is this optimal based on nutrition and hormones?

I am feeling so much more empowered as I read more of Sims (and others she has worked with) writings, and thinking more about what I am doing but also when I am doing it. I am excited, as I have found my motivation waning with an injury and rehab and also not feeling like I have something to train for and so not putting in the focused time.

Dr Stacy Sims has some great resources – if you are a PE teacher or coach Middle school or High school female athletes, you should be checking out what she has to offer in how we should be discussing periods, menstruation and body changes to educate our athletes about how bodies change and how this impacts performance in sport. As we see our girls change to women, we must support them, they are going to feel and be able to train differently to our boys/men and we must consider this as we coach them.

I have started reading some of Sims’ books, and have signed up to Beta test an app she is working on with others that allow athletes to track their training but also to be educated on insights that link together nutrition and menstrual hormone cycles to better understand how our bodies work and when to push and when to hold back and why. I am not an affiliate of any of these products, but I would like to share these resources openly to try and encourage more dialogue amongst the athletic and PE community to discuss Periods with our athletes. Talk about how we feel and educate ourselves in better ways to maintain our health and wellness – as well as those of us who train and race in Endurance sports.

2 Comments

  • mhamada

    Thanks for taking the time to read and share with me Leti. I am realising more that what I have noticed about myself is not just me, it is for all women and we need to talk more about this so we can be more forgiving and kinder to ourselves! I hope that you are well too.

  • Leticia Cariño

    Hi Mel, thanks for reflecting on this topic. As a woman, an athlete, a PE teacher, and a coach of young girls, I totally identify myself with this post and many of the ideas shared.
    The period, or menstrual cycle definitely messes up my body and I am aware of it, but would like to learn more about how I can take advantage of it, rather than the other way around.
    I have taken notes and checking Dr. Sims website as well as applied to join the beta app.

    Let’s see what will come next. Thank you, Mel, I hope you are well.

    Hugs,

    Leti

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