The menstrual cycle works as a good monthly training calendar. Over a few months, I have observed that if I listen to my body’s needs through its ebbs and flows, I have more energy, better clarity and less fluctuations of mood.
In running, it translates to sensing times when I can push and knowing when to hold back. In asana practice, it means listening to my body and working on those that create a sense of lightness of body and mind. While I do stick to a basic plan for running and yoga, sometimes I take an off. If it is mental laziness, there is nothing to do but shake off that lethargy and get on the mat or out of the door but if it is physical fatigue, I rest and restore. Restore for me involves any of the restorative asanas, sometimes done in isolation. It could be a supported Viparita Karani (legs up the wall) or Supta Virasana.
Last year, around the same time I had begun training for a half marathon and would panic on missing runs due to my period. The 2-3 days break would get the monkeys in my mind chattering and I would get all worked up. This time around, there is enough data from my logs to tell me what to expect. Having a log that captures my day of the cycle allows me to tweak my runs as required.
Until about a year ago, I never really bothered about it and just struggled along with the bloating and cramping. Inevitably, there would be agitation in my mind just before the period and cravings for cheesy food. If I pushed more in terms of distance or effort, there was a change in the length of my cycle. I also needed a pain killer for the first couple of days to get through my daily activities. The neck would get aggravated and overall I would be overwhelmed.
Now, I pay attention to the changes and observe how it is from cycle to cycle. Some of the things I experience are a difficulty in getting a proper lift of my body during the premenstrual phase. There is an overall sense of heaviness and I perspire more. My abdomen region changes shape and gets bloated. It is as though my body goes into energy save mode and wants to withdraw. My breath gets shallow and I need more sleep.
My life is an ordinary one with running just a part of it and I like to be in balance for all my other interests and responsibilities. It makes me smile when I think of my earlier obsession with it.
This week is a slow one with one 5k done and hopefully a couple of runs in by Sunday to ease back into the plan.