Do we run differently to men?
For women running is no different, right? - but there are obvious running issues that are firmly in the female domain. After all you don’t see many men in the sports bra section in M&S do you?!
With this in mind I have hijacked this section from my husband, who although he is a more experienced runner than I am, he is definitely not a woman!
A 2012 survey (Runners World) shows that 48% of UK runners are female (41% in the US) so it is by no means a strictly male activity…
The number of women running past my window certainly helped me to find the confidence to start running - besides, I had to find out what all the fuss was about!
In this section we will look at specific things which apply to women runners as well as sharing all that work I've been doing on research ;-)
So let’s start with what running gear you will need and then we will look at what issues women should be aware of, especially if you are a beginner
Women’s feet are different than men's, so you will need to look for running shoes which are specifically designed for women – men’s feet tend to be wider in the forefoot and heel area so running shoe manufacturers have different designs and sizes. Having said that I find a mans running shoe more comfortable sometimes so it's not written in stone
Specialist running clothes can be on the expensive side and certain manufacturers seem to assume that we are all a size 8 or10 and enjoy wearing cerise pink!
If like me you are not completely comfortable with having all the wobbly bits on show, then may I suggest an oversized football shirt (thanks hubby!) which covers all and will not be as sweaty as a cotton t-shirt and a pair of leggings
- the crop top and lycra shorts can be your ultimate goal!
A decent sport bra is a good investment and there are plenty on the market. You will need one with good lateral and vertical support. Your breasts can move up to 12cm in every direction during exercise, this can result in chafing and ligament damage
If you buy a sport bra get professionally measured and take your time choosing
Feeling safe when you are out running can be more of an issue for women runners than men. Use common sense, run somewhere that is familiar to you, take your mobile, and always tell someone where you are going to run and how long you are likely to be
For more running safety tips follow the link
Loo stops are always going to be a dodgy area for women running. You could pick a regular route with public toilets along it, or a pub that doesn’t mind you using theirs and there is always the ‘she-wee’ - otherwise it is the stop and squat method. Please be careful of nettles and prickly bushes!
Time Of The Month?
Your Menstrual cycle can affect your running and not just during your period. About a week before your period starts the level of progesterone rises and increases your breathing rate, which can make running hard work. Your body temperature also goes up at this stage of the cycle.
Period cramps can actually be eased by exercise, so running during may not be as bad as you think. Wear a tampon and a pant liner for extra protection
It doesn’t do any harm to take extra Calcium and Iron especially if you usually bleed heavily
On the bright side, women who run produce a weaker strength Oestrogen, which has been shown to reduce the risk of Breast and Uterine cancer
Running During Pregnancy
Running while pregnant needs a bit more thought and planning and a word with your doctor may be advisable. Most women who are already regular runners should be able to continue until they find it just too uncomfortable, the end of the second trimester usually. After that if you still want to keep up your fitness then swimming/aqua running is probably the best idea
During a pregnancy is not the time to start running from scratch
Oh Joy! I don’t suppose we can escape this subject.
In a survey by the Melpomene Institute, three quarters of the participants said that ‘running had a positive effect’ on the menopausal experience. One quarter said it eased their physical symptoms and over half felt relief from the mood and emotional symptoms
One of the biggest benefits for women running is the effect on bone density. The depletion of oestrogen caused by the menopause normally means loss of bone density and higher risk of osteoporosis. Running combined with strength training, however, increases bone density and wards off osteoporosis - so include strength training 3 or 4 times a week into your schedule if you are not already doing so
Fatigue is common symptom of menopause and you can probably expect a drop in your speed and endurance
Hot flushes whilst running are never going to be pleasant, it might be best not to run through them, stop take on water and keep some ‘cool wipes’ in your bum bag
Running is an incredibly liberating sport which strengthens and invigorates your body and mind as well as providing many other health benefits .
(one of my favourites is running to lose weight !)
At whatever stage of life we are at, the benefits of women running speak for themselves and as well as gaining a healthy toned body we get to enjoy some of that precious ‘me time’ ;-)