Hormones play a big role in how we all (men and women) move, behave, think, act, etc., throughout the day. Women, in particular, are often subject to an assault of hormones affecting our body in some way, shape or form.  If you're a woman, you - or a great many close to you - probably know what I'm talking about. I'm NOT saying that we're all moody, but symptoms of fluctuating hormones are real, especially as it relates to a woman's menstrual cycle. Fatigue, cramping, bloating, headaches and emotional overload can make a seemingly normal day miserable.

If you're an athlete, or have some sort of fitness goal, this can be somewhat troubling. Let's say you have a plan to accomplish something that requires discipline in any given area of fitness for four weeks (or so). It's smooth sailing for three weeks, then you hit a bump in the road. For some women, this might feel like a steady incline - and it's just a matter of getting over it, and for others it can feel like hitting a brick wall. What happens to all the training you've been doing?

In my case, I can't say that I suffer from horrible PMS. However, it does affect my energy levels...immensely. For two or three days, I'm easily winded and feel like a short jog is marathon distance. I generally feel like I have 'heavy' legs and can't finish a workout with the same vigor I normally would.  There is nothing else I can say other than it is a complete pain in the ass - and without fail - seems like a mystery whenever it happens month after month. Then, three days later, it's like a slingshot. I could go from having the worst workout of my life one day, to the best workout of my life the next day.

When I train, I periodize. This means I do three weeks of hard work, followed by one week of easier work. The easy week allows my body to recover and adapt to the new changes my body has forced on itself throughout the three weeks of hard training. It's needed and it really works. That said, it's very difficult, if not impossible, to plan around a menstrual cycle when you periodize. PMS doesn't always coincide with an easy week of work, much less anything else going on in life. Am I right?

Since my husband is writing my training plan for me, I decided to complain to ask him what I should do about my training. He suggested I stick with the plan and then went to go ask another training pro in the industry who has a greater depth of knowledge in the area. This person also said to stick with the plan.  Bottom line is, regardless of how crappy of a workout you're having, it's better to do what you can and try to push through it than it is to slack off and throw the entire training plan off course. Your body will never see long term benefits. As fate would have it, the two most difficult days for me were my Race Rehearsal day (see below) and a recovery day. So I guess I didn't do too bad.

If you're just catching up with the training plan, the three previous installments are below, followed by my most recent days of training, part of which is the beginning of my recovery week.

Days 1 - 4
Days 5 - 7

Days 8 - 11

Below are days 12 - 16.

Day 12

Race rehearsal (RR) day is coming up, so do not over-do this workout.

  • 20 minutes of drills and mobilization work (see bottom of post for this)
  • 8mins straight minutes of 30 seconds hard running followed by 30 seconds of easy running
  • 6 x 1/2 miles descend on 1-3 on 5mins.
    (Note from Traci: for clarification, this means you'll run six (6) half-mile intervals, the first three will be at easy, moderate, then hard pace. I do my intervals on five minutes. If I finish a half mile interval run in four minutes, I have one minute of rest before I have to start again. If you're running a little bit slower, add on a minute to your interval to give more recovery. Repeat the same easy, moderate, hard intervals once more)

Cool down

Day 13

Today is what the last two weeks have been all about.
Race rehearsal day - working on race routine and strategy.
You are training for a 5k and not a marathon. It is going to hurt and you need to know what it feels like. Get focused and put a great race rehearsal together.

Warm up (see bottom of post)

  • 10 x 30sec,  1easy/1 hard straight through

Main set

  • 1 x 3 miles

Race plan:

  • Mile 1: Out feeling good and smooth, this is the time to settle in
  • Mile 2: Keep your cadence up and begin to focus on maintaining good form and breathing. Hold back.
  • Mile 3: How tough are you?  Begin to build the last mile and tear it up!!

Record your time, we will do one more RR day before the main race.

Cools down

Day 14

Recovery day. Do something active, but easy.

Day 15 (Recovery Week Begins)

This is meant to be a  recovery week. The hardest part of a recovery week is the mental side. You have to believe you will benefit from it.
Work your drills and mobility work. You really only have one full cycle before your you main race.

  •  20 min Race warm-up, including drills and mobility (see below)
  • 2 x (3,2,1 min intervals. 3mins @ 65% effort, 2 @ 75% effort,  1 @ 85% effort) break 2min after the first time through.
 Main set:
  • 1 mile easy 65% (about 1 minute of recovery)
  • 2 x 1/2 miles moderate 70% (about 90 seconds of recovery)
  • 3x 1/4miles race pace 95% (about 2 minutes of recovery)
 Should feel hard, which is ok. Even though it's recovery you still need to turn the legs over.
Day 16
Warm up (see bottom of post)
6 x 1 min intervals (2 x through for each: easy, moderate, hard effort)
Main set:
  • 2x 12mins intervals
    4min @65% effort
    4min  @75% effort
    4min @85% effort
 Cool down. Minimum of 10mins.

Mobility Work (10 minutes mobility work)
  •  High kicks
  • Hip openers
  • Side bends

Drill Work 2 Times Through:

  • 60 fore foot hops, each foot. Focus is foot strength. Take your running shoes off. You can use a jump rope. Tilt at the hips.
  • 15 right knee lift/ 15 left
  • Walking  hurdle step (open up the hips)
  • Heel to butt kicks, 2 x 20 seconds


Wait, don’t leave yet! If you’re not joining me on Facebook yet, now’s a great time. There’s a lot more information on nutrition, diet and fitness. I love talking with my fans and enjoy putting together fitness plans and body-specific meal plansjust for them! If you have any questions or comments, just let me know.