Posted on: 29 May 2017
Tina Muir is an elite, 2.36 marathon runner for Great Britain, who recently started up her own company Running for Real- a real and honest social running community that discusses the downside and struggles of the sport as well as the highs. She has recently garnered a lot of press attention for her openness of and how she has temporarily quit the running world in order to start her periods again.
1) Hi Tina, how is the progress towards getting your periods back going?
Good! Actually better than I would have expected. I have not run in 9 weeks, have eaten anything and everything I wanted, and gained a lot of weight. Each of those have their pros and cons, but I have seen a lot of positive signs from my body that things are working again, and I am excited for the future. I feel in my heart that I made the right choice.
2) What are you doing in order to get your periods back?
I think I mentioned this above. No cardio, strength training 2-3 times per week, eating whenever I feel hungry, regardless of how long ago it was since I last ate, and eating anything I want to. I am working with RD, Nancy Clark, who has been guiding me on the eating side of things, which has been very helpful. It has been very freeing to live a life without restrictions. I have also been doing acupuncture at Blue Lotus, and everything I can to relax as much as possible.
3) Why do you think amenorrhea has been normalized in the running world?
As with everything I am working against with my company, Running for Real, I believe the root cause is this social media world we live in, where everyone is afraid to show vulnerability and admit they have a weakness. This has led to a shame around the topic, leaving women like me who are going through it, afraid to say anything for fear of being judged. I also believe doctors are completely in the dark about this issue, as many were never educated on it. Most athletes will go to an expert for medical issues, but when the medical professionals do not really understand your issue, there is not much they can do, other than suggesting you remove the one thing that is a little excessive; our running. For most of us, stopping running was not an option, so it left you feeling hopeless.
4) What do you think the best way to eliminate the stigma and improve physical health among athletes are? Are there any dangers in being an athlete that we are unaware about?
I think awareness is the biggest thing. If this catches the attention of medical professionals out there, they will learn about this issue and how to handle it, which will help women in the future. By bringing it to light, it allows other women to speak out and admit they are also going through which consequently shows just how common this issue is, leaving it more likely to be addressed.
As for improving health for athletes, you do not have to stop running completely, although it would take longer to recover than if you completely stopped. Removing intensity is foundational however for if you are not having a cycle, your body is in a state of fear and any kind of hard running will just keep it in that panic. I would recommend keeping your heart rate low at all times and cutting the volume of workouts too. Although many athletes would not want to hear this, the other essential thing is eating more and gaining weight.
I would recommend reading No Period. Now What? For more about what can be done, and the health detriments you are causing to yourself, as I am not the expert who is good at explaining. The biggest one is a loss of bone density, which can lead to osteopenia and osteoporosis.
5) What is your opinion on a recent vegan social influencer ( who we shall not name!) advocating a diet that stops your periods?
I am actually happy to report I have no idea what this means, but that is a shame she thinks that way!
6) How has it been not running?
This is the part that was a little surprising to me. I actually slotted into a life without running a lot easier than I expected. I still wish I could go for a run sometimes, and I believe I will, once I finally get that sign my body is working again, but for now, it has become a stubborn point for me. I have gone long that I don’t want to give in now. I have missed running and the endorphins it brings but I have gained a lot more in different areas of my life, which makes it easier to handle. I definitely think I will return to it, it is just a matter of when.
7) Do you think you will go back to elite running?
Yes, after I have children, I would like to make a comeback and really see what I can do.
8) What advice do you have for both runners and non-runners who are trying to get their periods back?
The best thing I could recommend is to purchase No Period. Now What? It really does have all the answers. Lots of women who are going through the exact same thing and many have made it out the other side with a better life. Doing this really has changed my life for the better, and enriched it in a way I didn’t think was possible. I wrote this open letter to anyone with amenorrhea, that I would also recommend.
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