Wednesday, September 8, 2010

In the Belly of the (Sweaty) Beast

Early Tuesday morning I woke up in a panic.  I could have sworn something was crawling down my face and neck.

Turns out it was a couple of things.  Sweat droplets to be exact.  Big fat ones.

My first reaction was quick and without censor, the way most thoughts at 2 AM are: thank God I'm not running today.

Running during menopause poses its own set of challenges.  For me, the main one is trying to get a full night's sleep in preparation for a hard morning workout.  Lately, it's been like chasing the impossible dream.

I've had night sweats on and off for about two and a half years.  And their daylight companion, the ever-popular hot flash.  But up until four months ago neither was much of a problem.  Then in early May, some one or some thing flipped the heat switch to the "on" position.

These days I'm apt to be seen strolling around the house with my t-shirt up around my neck, a look I won't be taking on the road thanks to another new development: the meno-pot.

For decades my stomach was either flat or concave.  Now no matter what I weigh or how many crunches and planks I spit out, there's some extra junk in the front.  In menopause circles it's referred to as the meno-pot.  I like to call it the Boomer Belly.

So now my days are spent yanking my shirt up and down like a defiant toddler.  What's especially tricky is handling a hot flash while running.  The first time this occurred I thought I was coming down with the flu.  I felt dizzy and flushed, the way you do before the thermometer under your tongue flashes an over-100 degree reading.

But what has really interfered with my training is saying farewell to a good night's sleep.  I've always been someone who relished her eight-nine hours of solid shut-eye.  These days I'm lucky to get by with three hours of straight sleep before the sweat cycle begins.  From that point on I wake up on average every 90 minutes, often literally dripping.

If my morning workout is a particularly demanding one - say a tempo run or hill repeats - it's tough to pull off after a night of tossing and sloshing.  What I find works is to convince myself I actually slept well and just pray that saying so makes it true.  That and a good afternoon nap.

Which brings me to wonder how I would have coped if I still worked outside the home.  Back in the day when I was a sales rep for a major soft drink company, how could I have made it through a nine-hour workday after a lousy night's sleep? Especially given that I always scheduled my runs before arriving at the office.

It's doubtful I would have been able to cut it without a nap.  And that's near impossible to do when you're working full-time. 

How do so many of my fellow Old Gal runners do it? I would love to hear from you.

In the meantime, I take my hat - and my shirt - off to you.


  1. I shudder to think how resoundingly you'd spank my butt in races if you weren't suffering from hot flashes!

  2. There's always a first time....I assume you'll be doing the Shamrock 15k? It's a great warm-up for Boston!

  3. Hi,
    A good natural remedy for hot flashes and night sweats is Siberian rhubarb root extract. It has been used in Germany since 1993, and been available in the US only since 2009. Four independent clinical studies show significant benefit with no ill effects. Hot flashes and night sweats were reduced by 72% in 12 weeks. The safety profile is excellent--women followed for 2 years showed no negative effects based on pre- and post- lab studies, endometrial biopsies, etc.

  4. You can get more information on Siberian rhubarb root extract at

  5. Thanks Harlan! My concern is family history of ovarian and uterine cancer but will check it out.