Meet Celia Boothman. She is a female triathlon coach living in Wales and around 10 years ago started to track her menstrual cycle. This helped Celia to understand why on some days she had less energy, and just wasn’t feeling up for training. We caught up with Celia to chat about how FitrWoman and FitrCoach has helped her to coach her athletes better....

I recommended tracking to some of my female athletes, and they gave me great feedback. They told me that it helped them to accept their changing moods, motivation and more. When I found out about FitrWoman and FitrCoach, I was over the moon. They are perfect for coaches and athletes, particularly because they give specific tips on training, recovery, and nutrition related to the different phases of the menstrual cycle. Information that has been severely lacking for women in the past.

So how has both FitrWoman and FitrCoach benefited you as a coach?

It opens up the conversation.

You may feel uncomfortable talking about a woman’s menstrual cycle, and an athlete may also feel uncomfortable talking about it, but I believe as coaches we need to lead the way here. This is a normal biological process that happens every month, and it affects women in different ways.

Ignoring it does athletes a disservice. Start as you mean to go on and have a question in your initial consultation form that asks if a woman has a regular cycle or is using birth control. This way I can bring up the FitrWoman app in my first chat with them, and get them started on using it, if they are not using oral contraceptives.

 

It makes you, and them, aware of how hormones affect training.

At certain phases of the cycle, women will find it easier to do strength work, and high intensity sessions, their motivation will be higher and you can plan training to take advantage of this. For example, I modify the strength sessions that I give my athletes to fit in with their phases, and plan training in a different way than I would for a man. We include high intensity sessions in phase 1 and 2 and I plan for more steady state and tempo work in phase 3, then we may have an easier week in phase 4. This all depends on where we are in a training block, and I don’t always plan like this depending on races, but aiming to work with women strengths is a priority for me.

 

It makes athletes more accepting of themselves.

Athletes who feel good perform well, and I aspire to be a coach who makes athletes feel good about themselves. Athletes who beat themselves up all the time because they can’t hit a session that week are wasting mental energy. Once athletes and coaches understand that temporary setbacks can be linked to your hormones thenit’s easier to move on and adjust training if needed.

 

It helps you to see where recovery may be compromised.

Athletes, especially age groupers, are often busy with a variety of other things in their life apart from training. During phase 4 and into phase 1there is an increased inflammatory response. Knowing this will inform you to plan easier sessions, and also flag up any issues that your athlete may be having with recovery. Women have to be more pro-active with recovery during these phases. You can help to put strategies in place for areas of recovery that they can improve on.

 

It allows you to see if an athlete has missed their period.

I fan athlete does not log a period then it gets flagged up on your FitrCoach account, so you can follow up. If an athlete is consistently missing periods, then this is a red flag to you that something is out of whack. Missing periods is a sign of R.E.D.S, (relative energy deficiency in sports) and can lead to serious health problems if left unchecked. It is a signal to you that the athlete is overworking and under fuelling for what they do. Your athlete will need help with this, and you can refer them to someone who is experienced in coaching athletes through R.E.D.S.

 

And, finally, it lets you seethe whole picture.

Coaching athletes is diverse and interesting, as no two people are the same. If you are using hormone tracking to inform training then you can take a true holistic approach to coaching. Knowing and understanding that hormones affect a woman’s stress levels, recovery and training adaptation, is not using it as an excuse, it’s being better informed and ultimately helps you to coach better, or as an athlete to perform better.

To keep up to date with Celia, you can follow her on Twitter or at www.ltrcoaching.co.uk

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