How to Track Your Menstrual Cycle for Training for Climbing
Coach Maddy explains how to track your menstrual cycle with training for climbing in mind!
How much does the menstrual cycle affect performance? The answer is… we don’t know. Research in the area is varied and inconclusive.
There’s also a lot of variation from person-to-person. So the best way to figure out how your menstrual cycle may affect your performance is tracking!
Then, you can figure out how to modify your training around your cycle…
What to Track
- Record cycle dates, including the days of menstruation and flow – when you know your typical cycle length, you can recognise any changes which may be a sign of changes to levels of energy, restfulness or stress.
- Any symptoms – there’s a long list of symptoms you may experience, it’s normal to experience any number of symptoms. In regards to training, you could include things like changes in motivation, levels of fatigue, rating of perceived effort, etc.
- Any ‘change to plan’ – this is where you decided to do something other than what you had planned. (E.g. you planned to do a hard bouldering session, but after warming up, decided to do some basic conditioning). This could be due to any reason, not necessarily your menstrual cycle. Take note of the reason; initially, this is about gathering information, so you can later reflect and spot links to your cycle.
How to Track
- Training diary or journal
- App (be aware that exercise recommendations on apps are not climbing specific and that they may have notifications that you can disable)
- Do this for 3-6 months – this helps you establish a pattern. You may find that your experience is a bit different cycle-to-cycle.
- Remember, certain symptoms (such as fatigue, reduced concentration or sleep disturbance) can be caused by a range of things. A repeating pattern of symptoms in line with your cycle dates helps to attribute the symptoms, but there are many causes.
- Climbers track many things when it comes to training, and your cycle should be treated the same way. You should remain an ‘interested observer’. Keep your tracking objective and simple, it’s just a date on the calendar. If you can, try to avoid overthinking and checking too regularly.