Do You Train Differently Than a Man?

“Wow!” exclaimed Allison. “I had no idea I could plan my training around my menstrual cycle. I never thought about training that way.”

“Female runners often train the same as male runners,” I said. “They do the same workouts on the same days of the week, hoping for similar results. But the training shouldn’t be the same. Because women are different. 

“How you train the specific fitness factors is the same as how a male runner trains them. The difference, however, lies in the training program’s subtleties and where such workouts are placed. How the volume and intensity of training fluctuate to be aligned with your body’s natural rhythm. The training program is made for a woman—made for you, Allison—following the natural rhythmic nature of your physiology.

“The menstrual cycle is what makes training female runners so interesting. When you understand the menstrual cycle, you understand the system. Then, you only need to apply the system. 

“While you don’t need to be a physiologist or gynecologist, Allison, you do need to be sensitive to the science of the menstrual cycle, as well as the many other women-specific factors that you’ll experience in your life as a runner. You have to be interested in it. You have to be curious about it. About the science, and about the art.”

“I can see how the rhythm of training is like the rhythm of my cycle,” Allison said. “I definitely feel better running at certain times of the month than at other times. Some days, I feel downright horrible. But I usually just push through it. I get down on myself when a workout doesn’t go well. Listening to you, I’m starting to understand that I need to work with, even exploit, my physiology. I can’t wait to start training like that!”

“Those times of the month when you feel great and those times when you don’t, they’re often predictable,” I said. “The menstrual cycle is speaking to you, Allison. Listen to it, plan your training around it, and you’ll start to fly.”

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