Red-Letter Days

(It’s International Women’s Month! So I’d like to take this opportunity to focus on an issue women share. Last year, it was about sagging and sports bras.)

As a woman runner of a certain age, I’m bound to experience it sooner or later. With four to seven days out of every month affected by it, inevitably one of those days will fall on a race day. Ladies and gentlemen, I am talking about menstruation.

I see red.

At the risk of oversharing, I’ve had my period on race day about four times over the last year, and they were all important races, too. So what’s a girl to do?

It’s important to remember that the menstrual period is just a part of a woman’s monthly fertility cycle. An egg ripens in the ovary and is released via the fallopian tubes into the uterus, which has developed a thick lining rich with blood and nutrients so that a fetus can implant and grow. If no sperm fertilizes the egg, everything in the uterus gets sloughed out during menstruation. And then the cycle begins again.

The whole cycle is governed by hormones secreted by the female body in various levels throughout the month. So a woman is always in a state of hormonal flux — and that’s even when she’s not pregnant! (Yes, this is our get-out-of-jail-free card.)


Despite the products available on the market to alleviate some of the usual problems that plague us (cramps, feeling faint or weak, blood stains due to overflow…), we women can never be quite as comfortable engaging in sports during our red-letter days as on other days of the month. How can we, with something jammed between the legs?

…OK, moving on!

“Have a happy period!” EEK!

Still, there’s nothing that says we women shouldn’t engage in the sports and activities we love even while surfing the crimson tide. Increased activity won’t result in increased blood loss, since what comes out is old blood no longer in circulation within the body. There’s even scientific evidence that exercise alleviates menstrual pain (dysmennorhea).

Whether or not a woman can run during her period really all depends on how she feels. And at least having a regular period is better than not having it at all, which means something is wrong. Unless pregnant, of course; in that case, congratulations!

We may not feel like celebrating these “red-letter days”, but overcoming our unique challenges is definitely something that should be celebrated.

Happy Women’s Month!

About Noelle De Guzman

Noelle De Guzman is a freelance writer and recreational athlete with over 12 years of experience in fitness and endurance sport. She believes sport and an active healthy lifestyle changes lives.

12 thoughts on “Red-Letter Days

  1. Sure this post will inspire more women to run… and for us guys to give more respect to women who are running while in “red-letter” days. πŸ™‚ And yeap, some of my friends testified that their dysme was alleviated compared to when they were not yet as active as when they were already into running.

  2. RunningAtom, running on those days is tough; it’s happened while I’m doing 10K, 21K, and 32K. I can’t even imagine having my period while doing 160K, which is what happened to one of the women who participated in BDM160 two weeks ago.

  3. Amen to that! I’ve tried running on those days as well! haha It starts out with me feeling really weird and uncomfortable… but once I start running, I totally forget about it.

    Cheers to women who can do anything amidst everything! πŸ™‚

  4. So true! We’re bound to experience it at least once in our running umm career? It’s so ironic, when I do get mine… I feel so sluggish and “tamad” to run.. but when I do run I feel so energetic! I also like “surfing the crimson tide” haha! Good one!

    (I was totally entertained with your menstruation animation..) Hahahaha!

  5. Time for some girl talk..excuse us guys…does using a tampon make any difference? I’ve never tried using one and I do avoid running on red letter days. I can only imagine maybe its less uncomfy using a tampon rather than sanitary napkin?

  6. Rachel, it depends on what day I’m running. The first three days are hellish for me… (I found that menstruation animation on Youtube!)

    Jerick, *wink*

    RunsNRoses, there’s no chafing with a tampon. Although of course you have to learn how to use one; a properly-inserted tampon shouldn’t feel like there’s anything in there. *blush*

  7. I usually use tampons when swimming and running. I still train in the water or run even while I am on my first or second day of period. You just have to evaluate what you feel when you have periods. You should not push yourself too hard especially if you are prone to cramps. You can exercise but too think about what your body is telling you.

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