Living and Racing with PCOS
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS, affects one in ten women and continues to impact the health of women around the world. There is no cure for it (as of yet), and oftentimes it affects the way in which some women view themselves as athletes. The symptoms vary from woman to woman, but the most common symptoms include weight gain, mood swings, male pattern hair growth/loss, infertility, and irregular menstrual cycles.
So what does any of this have to do with OCR? Since being diagnosed at a young age, one of the best things I can do for myself is challenge my body and mind in new ways. Since PCOS can be effectively managed by diet and exercise, the sport of OCR is perfect for PCOS fighters in so many ways.
Challenge Your Body
There aren’t many people who can run an obstacle race without putting in hours of training. I’ve found that the combination of strength training and cardio endurance is the best combination for keeping my hormones functioning at a healthy level.
While my weight can be a challenge when it comes to completing obstacles without penalties, (such as scaling walls and supporting my body while climbing), the beauty of the OCR community is the supportive nature of those racing. I am running the same course as everyone else, and while I might scale more obstacles than the athlete next to me, the only person I am competing against is myself. So I continue to train to be better than I was last race – pushing my body physically and benefiting on and off the field from the hours of work.
For those who struggle with PCOS, you know what I mean when I talk about the mental game. There are a lot of days that feel like the battle will never be won, and it’s on those days that we need to dig deep and keep moving. A huge benefit from OCR is the mental toughness you have to develop. – the grit that comes from being uncomfortable on a course translates directly to those hard days of daily life.
Use those memories of being on a course to fuel your passion for life, and remember how it felt to accomplish something you once thought impossible.
As a PCOS athlete, my body doesn’t always respond in a logical way. It’s true, not all women who battle PCOS have a problem with maintaining a healthy body weight, but there are a lot of us who do. It can be discouraging to be an athlete struggling with PCOS, especially if losing weight is something your physician has told you will help your hormones to function reliably.
So what’s a girl to do when losing weight isn’t always going to happen? I know that I struggled with that possibility for years; “What if I never looked like the athlete I am?” The key to being content with my body came down to goal setting. While I can’t promise my body will shed those pesky twenty pounds, I can commit to bettering myself as an athlete. Ask yourself, “What do I have the power to control?” While we might not be able to control our body’s response to the PCOS, we can control how we react, how we train, and what we eat. Start by setting small goals that build off one another and translate into a well-rounded lifestyle.
This is yet another way that choosing to incorporate OCR’s into your routine can benefit women with PCOS. Whether your goal is to run the course in a faster time than last year’s, scale a wall on the first try, or never have to do a penalty burpee again, OCR’s are a great way to set non-weight related goals that keep you focused on your body’s accomplishments rather than its struggles.
No matter how your PCOS manifests, keep moving forward and let the lessons you’ve learned on the course fuel your pursuit for a healthy, balanced life.