Well, just as so many exciting things are happening in my world (Second Wind giving me lots of great feedback and introducing me to dozens of inspirational readers, new writing in the works, fun races behind and before me this year, etc.), I have hit a roadblock. If you don’t like gory details, I’d advise you to pass over this entry, but for the record I think you should read it if you are a woman or if you know a woman.
For the past several months, my menstrual cycle has been strange. I’ve been bleeding for 10 days in a row, been unable to sleep through the night, started sweating while I’m sleeping, and I have felt exceedingly weepy. “Normal” you say—for a woman my age. Well, maybe. It’s possible “the change” is starting. But when I went to see my naturopath to have my recent blood work read, she showed me how my adrenals are tapped out. My cortisol levels are low. And my thyroid is under-functioning.
The night sweats, she tells me, are classic symptoms of overworked adrenals. And apparently, the thyroid and adrenals are connected to hormone levels, which are connected to my difficult periods. Who knew?
So last week was the end of my everlasting period. The last four days were brutally heavy, and by the time Tuesday came around, when I tried to join some friends for a trail run, I was so fatigued I could hardly keep my eyes open. As everyone sailed away in front of me and I brought up the rear of the group, I nearly burst into tears. Shocked at the strength of my sense of loneliness, I almost turned around and went back to the car. Bill was out for the same run and he decided to stay back with me, thankfully. I couldn’t believe how suddenly overwhelmed with sadness I felt—over being slow (something I’m typically very comfortable with). I told him I just couldn’t keep going, but Bill encouraged me to continue for a time.
Eventually, however, I turned back, went home and changed into my pajamas. That was a week ago. Yesterday, when I awoke still just as tired as I was after that run last Tuesday, I knew I had to figure out what was going on. I called my doctor and we agreed I would do some mild hormone replacement along with the treatment we’ve already started for my thyroid and adrenals. I’ll keep you posted how it goes.
Why am I telling you this? Some of you I will see on the trails next week, so why would I want you to know about my hormonal ups and downs? Well, today, just as tired as I was yesterday, I attend Carol Frazy’s Fit School running group for women like I do every Wednesday morning. I told a few runners about what was happening to/in my body and it dawned on me that I HAD to share my journey to get back in balance. In 2009 (I couldn’t find the numbers for last year) there were 467,000 marathon participants in the U.S. and 41% of those were women. The numbers for half marathons are even bigger than that. This mean that thousands and thousands of women runners, the majority of them in my age range, are potentially muddling through similar issues to mine.
My doctor thinks that my running is part of what taxes my adrenals, and while she knows better than to recommend I give it up, she wants me to make sure to attend to the special ways in which long-distance running wears on my body. I don’t know about you, but I want to run for as long as I can—into my old age. I don’t want to be slowed down to a crawl by fatigue brought on simply by climbing out of bed. This means that I need to get serious and pay attention. I encourage you to do the same. I’d love to be in conversation about this with those of you (men or women) who are either sorting through similar issues or care about someone who is.