Endurance performance for female athletes
We are now beginning to understand better the female physiology relating to training and racing for everyday athletes, not just the professionals.
Strength, metabolism, inflammation, fluid balance and injury risk are highly personal aspects that change regularly for female athletes due to natural hormone fluctuations. Therefore, it is essential to consider hormone levels during the menstrual cycle and their effect on female physiology to maximise performance.
Fluctuating hormone levels are individual to each woman and can vary widely depending on age and contraceptive use factors. However, it is worth considering the following points when planning and executing training and racing:
- There are phases when a female athlete could experience higher pain tolerance and perception of higher energy levels, so could consider more high-intensity based training sessions.
- There are phases where strength training could be more effective.
- There are phases where carbohydrate storage may be hampered, so consider pre-loading energy stores and consuming energy during training.
- There are phases where the body is not set for high, high-intensity sessions, and heat regulation might be delayed.
- There are phases where bodyweight could change; however, bodyweight should not be used to measure training performance for any athlete (male or female) without a structured medical and qualified support network.
A deeper personal understanding of our physiology can and will support progressive training and racing.
Every athlete can improve performance by:
- Understanding our physiological cycles, stress and everyday life.
- Better sleep.
- Structure and balance high and low intensity, strength and recovery training.
- Structuring nutrition in line with training and recovery goals.
- Seek out qualified medical professionals to gain a more profound and healthier understanding of our physiology and personal needs.