Adjusting training plan around menstrual cycle?

As promised from today’s call, here is my current burning question for @Coach_Theia:
Is there truly a benefit to moving around the workouts of the month so that the recovery week coincides with the week leading up to, and including the first few days of menstruation? (Those first two days are the ones I struggle most with each month. Theoretically, per ROAR, the days leading up are low performance days? I have not noticed the latter, however.) Thanks!
-Angie

Thanks for this great topic Angie!

I have read ROAR and several other experts, as well as studies on the subject of whether we should change our training based on the different phases of the menstrual cycle. The most important takeaways are:

  1. There is lack of clear evidence supporting a change/adjustment in training based on a woman’s menstrual cycle. More research is needed.

  2. There are practical recommendations to avoid low energy availability, but more research needs to help define specific dietary strategies that take into account the unique aspects of the sport or type and times of training.

  3. There is a lack of research specific to women and even more so the impact of their menstrual cycle of various types of exercise. The nature of what we know at this point is based on steady-state exercise. A more recent study suggests that the findings that the menstrual cycle affects fat oxidation are NOT, in fact, universal to all aerobic exercise types.

Based on the above:

  • Take the book ROAR and Stacy Sim’s recommendations with skepticism. There is some good information in her book, but it is not as clear cut as she leads the readers to believe. She has been criticized by many experts on her approach, as it can be misleading. She has even made recommendations that are not supported by evidence (such as to avoid antioxidant fruits post-exercise).

  • Know yourself. Keep notes of how you feel and perform, how you sleep, stress, fatigue levels and workout/event performance. You can do all this using TrainingPeaks (Metrics). Over time you will find your unique needs and patterns. It’s absolutely not the same for everyone (again, as Stacy suggests).

The book The exercising female: Science and its application is a much better resource, but it is technical and expensive.

More studies showing the lack of clear support for altering training/exercise/nutrition based solely on the menstrual cycle.

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I like that you take Stacy Simms with a grain of salt. I read Roar and found some of it to be really useful (mainly the advice about protein immediately after workouts), and some of it to definitely not work for me (mainly the advice for during workout nutrition and the infamous “nutrition in your pocket, hydration in your bottle”).

The Exercising Female is actually available as a Kindle rental for not too $ if you are ok with reading it and giving it back.
Do you have any other suggestions for related reading?

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I too have read ROAR. I thought there were some good points in it It did make me more aware of post ride and workout foods. I thought she fell short on having a one size fits all. There is no real mention of anything about vegan/ vegetarian athletes. She supports one hydration product and that’s it.

I tried googling her once time and only came up with ROAR. I was expecting more.

I believe what @Coach_Theia touched upon. You need to get to know your own body and figure out what works for you. We are all different and things work different for each of us. That’s just my take.

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On the topic of knowing your body… Here are screen shots showing how my resting HR and body temp have increased in the last 5 days. These are the days before the start of my period. And I feel sluggish… yesterday I could barely race.

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I didn’t read ROAR but I have worked with an excellent nutritionist and racer in the past who dove into the topic in an informational webinar on this exact topic and she mentions what Coach said - take it with a grain of salt. Her name is Kristen Arnold and the webinar link is here: https://source-e.net/rider-resources/webinars/sports-nutrition-for-females-considerations-in-a-field-of-research-on-males/
I have found that Kristen’s information helps me plan my month of training to align with my cycle, for instance, more VO2 during ovulation and more strength during menstruation. Her info has also helped me modify some eating habits, and combining Coach’s recovery webinar info with Kristen’s info I have also been able to improve my sleep and rest in alignment with my cycle.

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…I am a few days ahead of your cycle. I raced just a few hours before I got my periode Monday and burned out instantly. From feeling energized to flat in 15 minutes. I dont measure temp but I measure HRV and resting HR in the morning and I have the same graph. I usually have sub 50 HR in the morning but was measuring 55-57 and HRV lower (sympathetic nervous system dominance ) It also had me on “yellow” which means “not very ready”. I raced the day after I got my period yesterday and felt on fire (in a good way) strong, punchy and confident. I think I want the Oura ring, it seems so much easier than to fiddle a strap and an app :smiley:

That was me yesterday, but after 6 minutes :rofl: No amount of carbs could have saved me! I really like the Oura ring because it’s so easy and it stays out of the way. It also tracks HRV and steps. It just isn’t great for tracking workouts, but for that we have other/better software.

@msvdolan2002 thanks for this info- will check out the link!

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Maybe thats just how it is on a few certain days, especially on Zwift where its impossible to float on bike handling skills …its all about the energy you can put into the pedals.

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Yes, I agree. I don’t experience the same level of difficulty if I am riding/racing/working out outside.

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@Coach_Theia You said to use Training Peaks metrics to keep track of symptoms, how can I do? You mean using the pop up that appears after the workout?

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@mariannamarcucci see below

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