Training Like a Female

Last July (2019) my coach, James Winter, recommended I check out this book, ROAR by Stacy Sims. He started to look at my training and think more about tailoring my training to my needs as a female. This is a very new field of research. Women have always been trained like a man or modified to what they men do.

Stacy’s book is fantastic, I recommend EVERY female to read it. Her coined principle is ‘Women are not small men’.  That is complete truth and her book goes into such great detail as to why, how our hormones play into this, and how to better train our menstrual cycles.  There is so little research in this area, Stacy has really broken ground on this. 

Just a heads up, we’re going to be discussing periods… a lot.

I could, and probably should, write an entire blog about what I learned from the book and my experiences…but for this, I want to focus on my journey in regards to my cycle and how it affects not only my daily life, but also my performance and training.  From reading the book, I made some immediate changes, other things, it took me longer to really absorb it.

First and foremost, I started discussing my cycle to my coach. I had to not only tell him when I was having my period, but how I felt and the affect it had on me. We really started opening up the conversation about my cycle and having to discuss personal things that most men probably don’t really think about.  For my coach, I think, he was intrigued but most importantly willing to try adapting my triathlon training to my cycle. We had set a cadence of my cycles in relation to my training schedule.

Alongside this awareness, I also made some changes to my life after reading ROAR. There have been some interesting rollercoasters, but it has really allowed me to be more tuned into my body. I still felt like I was fighting my body a bit and things just felt a bit up and down.

Cue in lockdown and a very timely introduction to Suzie Richards.

Suzie had started a course for women called ‘Train Like a Female’. Her goal was to bring together a small group of women to make them aware of their bodies during their training.  I reached out to Suzie and was stoked to be invited to join her inaugural group. 

The Train Like a Female course was 6 weeks long. Each week Suzie put together videos for us to watch, along with a ‘worksheet’ for us to fill out. Starting with what our focuses would be for the duration of the course. To be honest, there are a million things that we can track in our bodies, but we were asked to just focus on two items. With the use of devices, we can collect a multitude of data and it can also be overwhelming.

I had started this course with a pretty solid background knowledge of how my cycle worked and had put a lot of the methods into practice, whereas many others in the course were really new to this concept. Suzie came with a wealth of knowledge and resources for us. Video guided meditation, nutrition from a chef that understands these concepts as well, alongside Suzie’s knowledge of training.  Putting it all together for the group to participate in.  Each week we had a call to review what we discovered or ask questions. 

It was extremely beneficial to have a group of women to bounce ideas off of and to gain perspective.  The biggest benefit is that you realize that you are not alone. 

For myself, my biggest takeaway, was taking the time in lockdown to really work with my body. Most of my races were canceled or moved, and it’s the best time to look inwards at myself and find out how I can things better. I am DevOps’ing my life (sorry, a little IT reference).

I think my experience in this whole journey might be interesting for others to read, maybe not.  I will be creating a series on my journey and outlining what I am finding works for me.  In the past year, I have shaped my training around my cycle, learned to better deal with my menstrual cycle and how to be kind to myself and my body.

In the meantime, reach out to Suzie directly and ask her about her upcoming courses!

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