A Female Triathletes Guide To Managing Your Period On Race Day 

Getting your period on race day is one of those unpleasant but inevitable discomforts you face as a female triathlete. Fatigue, cramping, bloating, headaches, general distress and heavy flow are just some of the symptoms that women have to endure, let alone the pain that comes with taking part in a triathlon itself. 


“Complete abstinence from activity in sport is absolutely imperative in the menstruating woman…no sportsman would ever dream of competing with a wound in his vital organs!” – Dr. Stephen Westmann, 1939


Although this quote is taken from 1939, many still believe that this is (or should be) the case today. The myth is that women shouldn’t compete when on their menstrual cycle. Whilst it certainly can affect you emotionally and physically, it doesn’t mean that race day is doomed. It doesn’t mean there needs to be an absence from exercise. And it definitely doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take part on race day. 

Prove them wrong and compete with the help of our period management guide. 


What To Do On The Day Of The Race


Menstrual Cup: 

It sounds scary at first I know, but many women have said that after a few practices of inserting and removing the cup it’s more convenient and comfortable than other sanitary products. The Mooncup actually holds three times more than a tampon so therefore doesn’t need changing as often, making it practical and reliable when it comes to triathlon. 


Trim your Tampon String: 

If you’re not ready to try a menstrual cup just yet then using a tampon and trimming the string is the oldest trick in the book. Just remember to bring a spare tampon with you and plan a toilet stop if you are racing a half or full iron-man. You should always avoid pads when racing as they will absorb water and won’t stay stuck down properly. 


Pain Killers, Yoga and a Hot Water Bottle: 

Okay, we know that period cramps can feel like the end of the world, especially the morning of a race, so make sure to be equipped with painkillers and a hot water bottle. A warm compress on your lower stomach or back will help soothe the pain, and pain killers can be used for effective and long-lasting relief, you should also bring some with you to take during the race if pain arises. Yoga is also an effective method for targeted pain relief. Try practising this gentle yoga sequence before the race to help with bloating, cramps and any anxieties (https://www.yogajournal.com/practice/yoga-sequences/yoga-for-menstruation/). 


What to do Before Race Day  


Track your Cycle: 

Tracking your menstrual cycle can allow you to plan races in advance, there are now multiple apps that make this process easier, such as Clue, Flo and Ovia Fertility, all available on the Apple Appstore and Google Play. Periods can be unpredictable, but having a rough idea of when you’re about to come on will avoid any clashes or annoying cramps when competing. 


Manipulating your Period:

If you are concerned about your performance and are on hormonal contraception then it may be worth manipulating your period by delaying it until the race is over. Simply start the next pack without taking the week break, that way you can avoid your period completely, although we recommend these precautions are used as a one-off and not a regular practice.


Written by Kate Goodman

If you enjoyed reading A Female Triathletes Guide To Managing Your Period On Race Day Check out our interview with the inspirational Lucy Charles-Barclay here: