Losing your period as a runner (or as anyone) is not normal.
It’s not something to brag about. It’s not something to strive for during training and it’s not something that is going to help your health, your times or overall wellness.
In fact, losing your period is only going to harm you.
Last month while attending Fitblog, a speaker said a quote that resonated with me. “Eating disorders are a relevant topic in the sub elite and college level. Eating disorders almost don’t exist in the elite level”.
Why is that?
An elite female cannot afford to have an eating disorder or missed period because she won’t perform at her best. If an elite female isn’t performing well then she will not stay (or move into) the elite field.
It’s a very harsh but true statement.
I’m not an elite runner and probably never will be. I do however have a passion in public health and wellness. My major in college was public health. While I don’t work in the field at the moment, I do volunteer in the field. I also did a series earlier this year raising money and awareness for eating disorders. It’s important to note that I’m not an expert and that if you are missing your period, the first thing you should do is see your doctor.
Why does your period stop?
This can be a combination of reasons (that your doctor can tell your personal reasons). Often times the training level is too high. You are training too hard, too much or too long. The other major reason is you aren’t getting enough food for your exercise.
Say for instance (like myself), you enjoy ten mile runs. I weigh 130 pounds and need about 1800 calories to survive daily. When I combine that with a 10 mile run, I need 2800 calories. Without 2800 calories, my body is not getting enough energy. Certain things can (and will) shut down. That is just a rough example but when you are running high mileage (or easy or not) you need to be mindful of your calorie intake. I am proud to say I’ve never lost my period.
Consequences of missed periods:
While your times can drop for a few races, eventually you will become too tired to withstand the training. This can lead to any or all of the following (just from loss of period):
Your times drop all season but when your goal race happens you are too tired and end up running your slowest times. Even worse is that you run the risk of getting injured much easier.
Important: Repetitive stress fractures. One stress fracture stinks but then imagine getting one…being healthy for a few months and getting another…then another…thus it continues to hinder your training. Ultimately your bone density is too low. This can lead to irreversible damage. With a loss of period, your body is much more susceptible to injury (especially bone damage).
You become unable to have children. You might not want children now but you can remain infertile forever. The reproductive system is the first thing to shut down when your body is not taking in enough calories…Could you imagine if your heart, brain or lungs were the first thing to shut down?
There are many more in depth articles about loss of period.
Please if you have lost your period, see your doctor. It is not healthy and only going to hinder your health in the long run.