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Training Through Menopause by Kate Allen, Ultra Runner

Jun 22nd 2022

Kate Allen is an Ultra Runner who talks candidly and refreshingly about her experiences through menopause and the impact it has had on her ability to run and exercise in the way she once did. Training Through Menopause is an online community of strong female endurance runners - supporting, informing & inspiring each other to reach their running goals despite menopause.

The Struggles Of Training Through Menopause

When I used to train normally, I found that knowing each session had a specific goal which would help me improve gave me the motivation and desire to get out every day. Whether I was doing an interval session or simply an easy run, they ended with a feeling of good work done, pride in knowing your mind overcame your body to ask it to push a bit more than it wanted.

Since being confirmed “menopausal” I’ve struggled with fatigue and anxiety as my main symptoms. With fatigue, every single run is a huge mental burden from which you gain no positives whatsoever. Having a rare day where I felt good enough to train meant that I was barely able to move for the next two or so.

So that all important consistency that everyone bangs on about was gone and the training run was indeed a painful exercise in mind over matter that brought me no gains at all.

Every search I do on the web to do with ageing or menopause scream at me to do power work and heavy lifting. That pressure was added to everything else that I struggled with when trying to train and all of it created this sense of loss and disappointment in myself.

Reaching out to women who had gone through this process has really helped me. There’s so little anyone knows about the menopause, let alone trying to train for endurance events through it.

Be Prepared To Change It Up

Everyone has different symptoms and different struggles but one message is becoming clearer and clearer. Hang on in there; there is an end to the struggle.

If you can’t train the way you want to, do something different. We are all terrified of losing that precious fitness that took so long, with so much hard work, to build up. But as long as you are doing some form of movement, it will halt the decay of your fitness and allow you to start smoothly when you are ready.

My personal message to anyone going through this frustrating process is to be kind to yourself and believe in yourself. Don’t be pressured by anyone to do anything! We must listen to our own bodies and do what feels right.

Murphy’s Law has struck me in the meantime. In April I seemed to get on top of my fatigue and throughout the month I was able to train in a far more consistent manner than I had been able to for over 18 months and I was starting to feel the shoots of hope.

However, my knees have always been a niggle that I’ve managed but one day at the beginning of April, after a short walk with friends, they simply gave up. They swelled to 3 times the size in a matter of hours and I was barely able to walk. Since then, the swelling has gradually decreased but they remain painful to bend and I have an MRI and physio booked.

The orthopaedic surgeon thinks it’s simply a tracking issue, but that simple issue has prevented me from doing any significant exercise at all. If there’s something I’ve missed that doesn’t require you to bend your knees, please tell me!

A Rest Is As Good As A Change

But personally I feel this rest is helping my body and while the swelling in my knees slowly reduces I feel the rest of my somewhat beleaguered body is growing in strength. After running most days for 8 years, the mental rest of not having to think about training has been refreshing and although sometimes I panic at the thought of having to start from scratch, my growing pot belly is starting to feed the fire of determination.

And Remember …

 

If you would like to get in touch, either for support or to share your experiences, please do contact Kate through her website www.trainingthroughmenopause.com