Triathlon and perimenopause

Triathlon and perimenopause

My experience​

In my mid 30s I discovered triathlon. Who knew that swimming, then biking, then running could be so much fun? The first race I did, I managed to end up finishing at the same time as my partner (although he had done double the distance I did!), and after that I was hooked.

Fast forward a couple of years and I’d signed up for my first ironman (2.4 miles swim, 112 miles bike, 26.2 miles run). As part of the training I did my first half iron distance (1.2 miles swim, 56 miles bike, 13.1 miles run) and, wow, what fun. I loved it. I enjoyed every second. I was beaming from ear to ear!

That first ironman attempt

Was thwarted by a mechanical on the bike leg, meaning I ran out of time to make the cutoffs. Never mind, have a good cry and then sign up for another one the next year. Well, 2nd time around I felt more ready than I have ever been for a race. Unfortunately I learnt that day that it is possible to get seasick while swimming, so I didn’t even get as far as the bike.

I signed up for another one

Because that’s what you do, right? And then I started being exhausted all the time. And gaining weight despite training. And having such crazy mood swings that I couldn’t trust myself to open my mouth for fear some extreme anger would come flooding out.

This carried on a couple of years with me deferring race entries, in the hope I’d snap out of whatever was going on. Fast forward to my 41st birthday and another half iron distance race. This time at Holkham in Norfolk. The day started amazingly when all my swim wave sang happy birthday to me, but once on the bike I couldn’t find any power. I needed to hold a minimum of 12mph to hit the time cutoff. That shouldn’t have been an issue. It really shouldn’t, and yet at full pelt I was only hitting 10mph. What on earth was going on?

With hindsight

From the place 43 year old me sits in, I can see that all of this was part of my perimenopause kicking in. The fatigue I experienced (and still do) was phenomenal. Seemingly my hormones don’t like triathlon. I sincerely hope that in the future, once my hormones have calmed down again, I will be able to go back to triathlon. I have so many races I still want to complete, but not right now. Now I have to listen to my body and be dictated by what it needs. It needs rest and kindness, and also weight lifting – who’d a thunk it!

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