Ali’s Adventure – The Female Athlete

“You have to believe in yourself, when no-one else does” – Serena Williams

This is not a sob story post, or an icky post. More of a ‘understand your own physiology’ post.  As a woman trying to train to the best of my ability, it has been important to learn a few things about how my body is affected by monthly hormone changes (more so now I’m into the 40+ category) and how that in turn affects how and when I can train, and the adaptations I have to make during the different phases. In addition to that, I have recently learnt about nutrition and the female body, and how vital this can really be week to week.

One thing I have learnt, and I think this helps psychologically too (motivation when feeling like rubbish), is that during phase 1 (the first to last day of your period) your oestrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest. This can trigger an inflammatory response, however it also means that you are more receptive to training responses (because basically you are more like a man hormone wise) and can therefore benefit from the harder sessions. So even when I was feeling pretty damn rubbish, the motivation was high last week – “get out there Ali, use this week to get the gains”!  However you also need to make sure your recovery is really spot on, as with the increase in inflammation, it’s more critical to get the right nutrition pre and post training and nail the recovery methods (my favorite is cryotherapy – stand in the sea at Tahuna Beach for 15 minutes post hard session). Then I do some serious legs up and Netflix action rocking the compression tights.  No awards were made for looks around here! I also make sure I get some protein on board pretty soon after training to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, improving my recovery and enhancing performance for the next training session.

I had a great weekend training. I snuck myself into an ocean swim race (just the 1km) on Saturday. I gave myself one stern talking to about race tactics, swim smart, efficiently and make sure you are in a good position on someone’s hip. Last year I think I got kicked, punched and drank ten litres of salt water plus I had no idea where I was in the ocean. This year was totally the opposite, with glassy but cold water, I swam smart, and it paid off.  I got straight out of the swim and onto my bike for a hot lap of town. Sunday was spent cheering on my daughter at the Weetbix triathlon, and then a nice Zone 2 roadie around Nelson.

So next time you are feeling a bit glum because it’s ‘that week’ remember that it’s actually a great opportunity to make some gains.

Big Tahuna swim course, perfect conditions.

– Ali

Ali is writing about her experience preparing for the K2M.  Join her with her weekly article about her training and experience.

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