How you train the fitness factors—aerobic endurance, acidosis threshold, VO₂max, anaerobic capacity—is the same as how a male runner trains them. A VO₂max workout is a VO₂max workout, regardless of whether you’re female or male. The difference 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 following the natural rhythmic nature of your physiology.
Many female runners don’t feel as good during workouts and experience subpar training days in the few days leading up to and including their periods. While harder workouts may be more challenging during your period, easy running may actually improve your mood and alleviate physical symptoms associated with your period. (Since estrogen begins to rise, albeit slowly, when your period starts, it’s possible that you may actually feel better when running during your period compared to the few days prior.)
Plan increases in training volume to coincide with the follicular phase (especially week 2), when estrogen is high. Refrain from increasing (or slightly reduce) weekly mileage during your period and at times of the month when estrogen is low—early and late luteal phase (early in week 3 and late in week 4). Avoid challenging workouts around your period, especially if you don’t feel well or if you have major cramps or feel bloated (bloating occurs from the rapid drop in progesterone as you transition from the luteal phase to the follicular phase).