Athletes who have menstrual cycles sometimes feel bad at certain points in the month—yet sometimes the fact that they’re expecting to feel bad can wreak more havoc than the actual physiological symptoms. In this candid and pragmatic video, Coach Lauren Vallee shares her perspective on using the menstrual cycle as a way for both athlete and coach to build resilience, communication, and trust. It’s something that Dr. Stacy Sims writes about from a purely physiological standpoint in this article, How the Menstrual Cycle Can Work to the Athlete’s Advantage.
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Lauren Vallee 0:04
I think one of the things, as a coach, to keep in mind is that we are not coaching a 28-day cycle. We are not coaching perimenopause, we are not coaching menopause, we’re not coaching prenatal/postnatal, we are coaching a person who has a menstrual cycle. And so one of the things that is actually advantageous—if you’re a coach working with someone who has a menstrual cycle—is there’s this advantage that every month there are going to be workouts that are good and bad. That happens for any athlete. But one of the things that I try and do with my athletes is kind of remove this narrative that in the high-hormone phases, I can’t accomplish something, or that I’m going to feel bad.
And so—there’s a point in every race when you feel bad. [Laughs] Sometimes whole races feel bad. And so as a coach, you really want to be able to meet your athlete if they’re like, “Oh, coach, I’m supposed to get my period in three days, I’m just feeling really low energy.” It’s like, “I got you, I totally understand that,” and “Go to the pool, get through your warm-up. Like, the warm-up doesn’t have to feel any certain way. Get through your first round, get through your second round.” And you are slowly developing the resilience and toughness that this athlete has to deal with the fact that, on race day, yeah, they may have their period, they may have cramps, they may be in a high-hormone phase, and they may not and they still may feel bad.
And so you have this opportunity as a coach every month to kind of take the whammy out of this idea that in high-hormone phases, something bad’s gonna happen. It may not. And one of the things that I think it is our responsibility as coaches is to always, always, always understand what the stories are that are going on for our athletes. And so if we understand that, we can kind of dismantle the bomb before it goes off. And man, athletes who are flexible and resilient on race day are kind of unstoppable. And so, if you’re coaching female athletes, use the cycle as something that’s a positive rather than a negative.