Dossier: Running coaching

Running tips for women

Should you train during your period or run while pregnant? Monika Brandt, sports scientist and coach at Vikmotion, provides tips for women and explains why it’s a good idea to train outside your comfort zone.

Text: Clau Isenring

Should women take a break from training during their period or can sport have a positive impact?

Running during your period can have a positive impact on your psyche and your performance. A light workout is best. By sticking to regular training during your period, you can reduce your sensitivity to pain. Sport very rarely exacerbates pain. Many women take a break from training, because they’re worried that sport will make the pain worse. However, improved blood flow actually helps relax the pelvic muscles.

What about during pregnancy – is running a no-go?

In consultation with your doctor, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t run during pregnancy, especially women who ran regularly before they fell pregnant. However, it’s not a good idea to take up running during pregnancy if you’ve never done it before. Upping the distance or training intensity is also not recommended, because women are more susceptible to injury during pregnancy. The general rule is that you should keep running for as long as you feel comfortable. Regular (running) training also helps your body recover more quickly once you’ve had the baby.

How long can you keep running during pregnancy?

There’s no clear-cut answer to this question , because it varies greatly from woman to woman. Key factors include the starting level, general physical fitness and how the pregnancy progresses. Some women who take part in competitive or high-performance sports keep running until shortly before the birth, but this, of course, is only possible because their bodies have got used to the strain over a number of years. Women who run for fun in their free time should listen to their bodies and, if in doubt, talk to their doctor.

Do you recommend wearing a sports bra for running?

It’s a good idea to wear a sports bra, because the movement – frequent ups and downs and the rotations – can severely strain or even damage the sensitive breast tissue consisting of skin, fat, ligaments and glands. Back pain can also be triggered or intensified if you don’t wear the right sports bra. Scientific studies have even shown that sport bras are essential!

What do you have to look out for when buying a sports bra?

The less additional material, the better. Sports bras shouldn’t have underwiring, clasps and hooks or frills, because they can make running uncomfortable. The level of support provided by a sports bra depends on your cup size and is generally indicated on the packaging. It’s also important that the bra is made of a comfortable, fast-drying and breathable material and it should fit snugly but not too tightly. Your bra shouldn’t move about or slip up or down. Tip: test the fit of your sports bra by moving your arms about, e.g. stretch your arms above your head.

Is there any other clothing designed specifically for women?

I can imagine that there are also seamless briefs for women that fit snugly under tight running trousers without a VPL. You can also buy running skirts, but I don’t really see how these would be any better than leggings. It’s probably more to do with fashion than functionality.

What training tips do you have for women?

Women tend to underestimate themselves and are sometimes reluctant to push themselves to the limit. They’re at their most comfortable when they run at a gentle pace so they can still talk to their running partner. However, women are allowed to – and ought to – get out of their comfort zone! This not only improves performance but also makes them mentally stronger and more resistant to stress. It’s important to remember that running faster doesn’t necessarily mean running at full speed straight away – and it doesn’t hurt. You can vary the speed and type of training. The more you vary your training, the more your body gets used to it. The next time you run a bit faster, it will feel much easier.

Monika Brandt

Sports scientist and personal coach