Facing the realities of female runners is something we all struggle with

By Lili Narvaez | Photo by Matthew Henry

When it comes to running, women worry more than just form and injury. They encounter problems specific to the female bodyall of them unavoidable and some even embarrassing. Whether beginner or expert, here are some of the most common problems women experience on the run.

1. What do I wear?

Women need the right gear, not just to look great but to feel great. Women’s feet tend to be narrower than men’s feet, so make sure to properly fit a pair and not just grab the first one you see in the store. For clothing, be very choosy with your sports bra. Breasts move quite a lot when running so for best support, pick a bra with a snug fit that stretches horizontally.

2. Oops, I need to pee

It’s embarrassing, but it happens to a lot of women. Incontinence is when urine leaks from the urethra and you can’t control it, with running putting pressure on your pelvis. If this happens a lot, try using urine pads or underwear with built-in padding. Doing Kegel exercises, where you squeeze muscles that control urination, can also help bladder control.

3. It’s that time of the month again

It’s been proven time and again that endorphins released during exercise can ease the pain from cramps. If your cramps cause you a lot more pain than usual, pop a painkiller, then take your time and do an easy run instead.

4. Will running hurt my baby?

Being pregnant shouldn’t keep you from exercising and if you’re a regular runner, you should be comfortable running even until the end of the second trimester. Running the rest of your term should be okay, but, of course, only after consulting with your doctor. The most important thing, especially if you’re pregnant, is to keep your body temperature in check. Allowing your body to reach a temperature as high as 38°C may have negative effects on your baby.

5. How do I stay safe when going out for a run?

There are many hazards on the road for runners, especially women. Always bring cash and your mobile phone for emergencies. Run with a buddy, but if you end up running alone, inform someone about where you’re running. Change your route from time to time to avoid the attention of strangers. If you’re on the road, run facing traffic, and stay visible to incoming cars.