Camille Herron, one of the best ultra runners in the world and a leading voice in the sport, speaks out about the importance of menstrual health for athletes. She tells the story of how her period played a pivotal role at this year’s Western States 100 mile trail race, and also how attending to her hormone and overall health led to her navigating menstrual cramps, nausea, and general period malaise on race day. Camille advocates strongly for women athletes to understand that regular periods are normal and that not getting your period is a red flag of not nourishing your body enough.
We are honored that Camille Herron chose to tell her menstrual health story and the details of her Western States experience here first. We strongly support her adding her strong voice to the efforts to destigmatize discussions around periods and healthy eating.
In this story, in addition to unveiling what really happened at States, Camille talks about how she’s understood as a young athlete that period health is a sign of overall wellness and is linked to proper nourishment. She has never, in her long career as a competitive long-distance runner, missed her period.
Camille also goes into detail about the role oral contraception has played in her health and wellness journey. Camille had used oral contraception for years, and it had worked well for her, until it didn’t. Her decision to go off oral contraception improved her health and wellness, but ultimately led to getting her period at Western States. This all speaks to the complexities of our changing bodies and highlights the need to better understand and discuss strategies for working with those changes.
Loss of menstruation is all too common with women athletes, and that is especially true in the sport of running. It is, as Camille emphasizes, not normal and further is a sign of poor nourishment, which impacts performance, training, and it has short- and long-term health impacts.
Period loss is a key symptom of RED-s, a serious health condition caused by under-fueling. For more on that subject, please listen to our episodes that focus on experiences with RED-s:
Ann Ashworth: A RED-s Recovery to Running Healthy, Strong, and Fast
Charlotte Gibbs: A RED-s Journey to Rediscovering the Joy of Running
Megan Flanagan: A Young Runner’s Journey through RED-s
To hear about Camille’s epic Comrades win, please listen here:
Camille Herron + Comrades Marathon: Dream Race
Ways to Keep Up With Camille on Social Media
Camille is on Instagram: @runcamille
Camille is on Twitter: @runcamille
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