How to manage PMS to perform optimally the week before your period

I have booked a climbing holiday, I want to climb well…but it’s the week before my period. I know sometimes I struggle the week before my period if I am tired or stressed. When I say struggle, I do not feel as confident due to feeling weaker and less coordinated, this usually results in feeling more scared and irrational. It is hard not worry that I will experience this every time it’s the week before my period. BUT after time tracking and getting to know me, tuning in and reflecting on how I feel, I can still perform the week before my period I just need to be proactive in ensuring what I eat, my sleep and stress.

What is my key impacting factor?

Stress prevents me from feeling as focussed and worrying about irrelevant things causing extra noise and distraction. But my key factor affecting me is tiredness, if I am tired this causes those ‘negative’ symptoms to be more prominent. This is also associated with not having enough rest or recovery. When I am tired I doubt myself and am not as confident.

How do I manage this?

I don’t always get it right as I climb weekly, but I can focus on managing this well when I have booked a holiday to go climbing…it would be the same for times of major competition.

Sleep. Rest. Recovery.

This involves being proactive and planning – making sure I get 8h sleep a night, I ensure I have good sleep hygiene to achieve this. I plan in rest days, both active and passive (walking and yoga vs sitting and reading a book!). Finally recovery, this overlaps with rest but also thinking about what I eat to help ensure good recovery from training, a balanced diet of food which provides fuel (e.g. carbohydrates such as rice), recovers (e.g. protein such as turkey) and supports my immune system (e.g. vitamins and minerals from at least 5 portions of fruit and veg). Additional high protein snacks such as high protein yogurt before bed help with recovery and ensure I don’t feel hungry going to bed which can disrupt sleep. Finally hydration, focussing on having a bottle of water with my whilst at work and training.

This is just an example of what I have found works for me. Through tracking and self awareness I have become aware of the factor impacting my performance and put a plan in place to prevent this having a negative impact. As a result I can train and perform across my cycle, as long as I put my plan into action.

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Dr Natalie Brown

Hey! I am Natalie, a research associate exploring all things menstrual cycle and sport related, whether that is Olympic performance or factors affecting participation in physical activity. When I am not talking about the menstrual cycle, I love climbing and being active outside. I have a background in physiology and research related to hormonal responses in athletes (male and female), combined with my own personal experience in sport, I am passionate to share information on the menstrual cycle with you.

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