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BLEED: an evidence-based take on menstruation and athleticism

I've been transforming the way we conceive of pregnancy and athletic performance since 2015. Now it is time to reset how we think of menstruation and athleticism.

Along with midwife and nutritionist Meg Reburn I've co-authored a short book entitled "Bleed". Join us for our book launch and live Q&A on March 11th via Zoom.

After years of working with clients, Meg and I noticed how much the different phases of the menstrual cycle could affect an athlete’s training, nutritional needs, and overall ability to thrive. The thought popped into our heads, “What if we create a concise, evidenced-based resource that would help everyone with ovaries navigate the different needs during the different phases of their monthly cycles?” And so, BLEED was born.

Your purchase includes a copy of the e-book and attendance at our live, Zoom-based presentation and Q&A on the book.

Expect to cover:

  • Our four-phase framework for understanding your hormones

  • Training, recovery, and nutrition tips for each phase

  • Evidence- and experience-based guidance on transforming how you view your cycling body in motion

  • 20% off consults and coaching booked with either of us within thirty days after the event

You may also pre-submit your questions for us to answer prior to the event. A cloud-based recording will be available after the session for all participants.

Join us for the book launch an Q&A!

Kettle Crest Trail recovery

The Kettle Range: Barnaby Buttes, Snow, Sherman, Columbia, Wapaloosie, Copper, and Profanity

The Kettle Range: Barnaby Buttes, Snow, Sherman, Columbia, Wapaloosie, Copper, and Profanity

Many of you have been asking how my physical recovery from the Kettle Crest Trail went this time around. My spirit experienced the running culmination of this event in epic hallucinations where I became Raven and even stranger things. While I've been wildly ruminating on the existential aspects of the experience, which are vast and still needing more time to process, my body quickly integrated the event.

The Kettle Crest Trail encompasses about forty-six miles (“about” because estimates range from forty-one to forty-eight and the trail sorely needs re-mapping) and about 8,000 feet gain between elevations of 4,800 feet and 7,200 feet. Unlike other epic mountain runs I’ve enjoyed like the Wonderland or any number of long routes in the Rockies, the KCT is a wily journey and often indistinct or unmaintained. Two old wildfire scars sling their black and silver remnants over the trail. In my seven runs on the Crest I’ve encountered five bears and three moose. The North Kettles are wolf country and are also challenging to navigate due to a recent fire there which has allowed brush to encroach on the faint path. Running this year, I saw a total of two people over the course of the better part of a day.

As with my last run on the Kettle Range in 2017, the latent effects of fetomaternal microchimerism rendered me unable to get sore. The female body is the ultimate endurance machine.

On last year’s run, I was forced by a great dearth of water on the trail to drink from a cattle trough. Consequently, I got giardia (my fourth bout with those little fuckers since 2009) and so my internal recovery from the run took until my course of antibiotics was over a few weeks later. This year, though, I armed myself with iodine tablets and thankfully my gut has felt solid since completing the run.

The day after the run I took a recovery hike. The day after that I took an easy run. The day after that my legs made me run like I was possessed––bottomless energy once again even after the FKT rolled out of me. Though I have attempted to turn my energy to climbing once again, my fire for running continues to burn and so I’ve spent six days a week hammering dust with joyful feet.

Most remarkably, my period has maintained its thirty day cycles. I strategically programmed this run to happen on the summer solstice in the first days of my luteal phase, knowing that I’d have ample light, lots of energy, and given that I’d have already ovulated it was unlikely that the big effort would disrupt my cycle.

Finally, last year I ran about five pounds lighter and my autonomic nervous system was a good deal more sensitive. In advance of my 2017 run, I found it difficult to fall or stay asleep and I functioned in a slight sleep deficit for most of the summer. Through winter 2017/2018 I packed on about ten pounds, downed an indica edible every night, and built more consistent bedtime habits. As a result, this year I slept well all but the night before the event (because I was just so damned excited to run). In the taper leading up to the event, I clocked about eleven and a half hours of sleep a night plus naps three days a week.


read more:

Perfecting the Taper


Meg Reburn BScH RM client interview - Mistress Yinness

Trigger alert: If you have a history of disordered eating and/or body dysmorphia, skip this episode. I care about your health.

You helped me see how I can bring more yin into my practice as an athlete.
— Meg Reburn

Topics discussed in this episode:

3:20 The great generalist
4:30 Nutrition + hormone balance
6:25 “How long did you go without menstruating?”
8:57 On processing trauma
9:25 How Meg and I worked together
11:25 Yin practices while in motion


More about Meg:

Meg's website

Meg's Instagram


Related posts:

Meg's guest post

Menstruation doping

Why rest? By Lydia Zamorano

Client profile series

Endurance and your hormones

the author doing what she loves: climbing

the author doing what she loves: climbing

Hey mindful movers,

My first collaboration with Meg was when she hired me to coach her through her recovery from HA (read more on that below). I loved collaborating with her as an athlete because of her deep knowledge of the physiology of endurance and her sincere dedication to getting her period back in shape by addressing her issues with chronic overtraining.

Meg is a functional nutritionist and mountain athlete based in Squamish, British Columbia. Finding her place in the performance wellness world at the intersection of what we eat, how we move, and hormone balance, Meg informs her client work with her long career as a midwife - she has caught hundreds of babies. Needless to say, Meg and I found a common interest in evidence-based wellness and performance coaching for mountain athletes.

Through the last six years of business here at MN, I have worked with so many clients who struggle with maintaining the health and vitality necessary for regular periods - especially clients who train for ultra-endurance events. For all those women who struggle and don't know how to change it, Meg and I have put together a guest post, collaborative coaching packages, and other resources for you.

I am greatly looking forward to ongoing collaborations with Meg and so excited to introduce you to her with this post. Enjoy.

Brittany Raven

meg hat.jpg



Happy Hormones for Athletes 

Guest Post By Meg Reburn BScH RM




The other day I was sitting around a campfire surrounded by a pack of rad mountain women. Naturally, the conversation went from, skiing, climbing, and running to poops, cake, and periods. These women had many things in common, besides the unanimous love of chocolate cake, about eighty percent of them had lost their periods at one point or another or had experienced menstrual irregularities, myself included. This got my wheels spinning: “WOW, everyone is having hormone issues WTF? ”


What went wrong?

Recently, I’ve been working with a number of women, mostly athletes, who have lost their period. Fuelled by my own struggles with HA (hypothalamic amenorrhea/secondary amenorrhea or loss of your period) my functional nutrition practice has morphed a bit over the years to focus not only on pregnancy nutrition, but also hormone balance, especially for female athletes. So, let’s dip our toes into the turbulent waters of hormonal regulation and explore this topic a bit further.

Not having a regular period or having periods longer than thirty-five days can signal that there are some pretty big imbalances going on in your body. Our monthly cycles involve a delicate interplay of many different hormones including sex hormones, like estrogen and progesterone and the hormones that originate in the brain such as GNRH, FSH, and LH.

While there are SO MANY amazing benefits of being a female athlete that Brittany has talked about a number of times, female athletes are way more sensitive to hormone imbalance than their male counterparts. Physiologically, women are more hormonally sensitive to nervous system stressors than men and take a longer time to recover from these events.

When you think about this from an evolutionary perspective, it does make sense, it was the man’s “job” to hunt and chase lions using short bursts of maximum power and then cycling into total rest. This was stressful. From an evolutionary perspective, if women are under piles of stress the body surmises it is probably not a good time or safe place to add a new baby to the tribe, thus, ovulation and fertility shut down. (Cause let’s be honest, we don’t stop having sex especially in times of stress!) Both of these reactions to stress are adaptive given how we evolved as a species but can be problematic with all the stressful inputs we have in modern life.

As I mentioned before, mountain endurance sports, when done unskillfully, can have a similarly negative impact on a female athlete. If we continue training in an aroused nervous system state, our bodies interpret this as an environmental stressor and shuts down our fertility to compensate. As a quick nerdy run-down here are the body’s responses to inappropriate training:

  1. The body perceives training and/or sport as a stressor and produces cortisol (the stress hormone);

  2. If there are significant life stresses and/or this training is not balanced with rest, recovery, and properly-timed nutrition, cortisol levels never go down and you find yourself in a chronic state of cortisol domination;

  3. Chronically-elevated cortisol signals to the hypothalamus to down-regulate hormone secretion and as a result levels of growth hormone, thyroid releasing hormone, and gonadotropin releasing hormone all take a nosedive;

  4. Without GH you won’t get stronger or recover properly; without TSH your thyroid hormones go down making you tired and sluggish; and without GnRH your pituitary fails to initiate reproductive activity and signal the release of LH and FSH which are the backbone of a healthy menstrual cycle;

  5. Low levels of GNRH mean your estrogen levels fall, you stop ovulating and your progesterone tanks and then you have HA;

  6. Without proper sex hormones your risk of osteoporosis, and some studies suggest dementia, goes way up.

While this is the simple version, everybody regardless of gender is unique. We all have our own special needs for rest and recovery that can change from day to day and year to year. It’s also important to note, as we get older, we need more good ol’ R&R.


How to fix it.

  1. Proper nutrition is the CORNERSTONE of HA recovery and prevention.

  2. Properly-timed training, recovery, and periods of rest are critical. (Talk with Brittany about this one!)

  3. Stress-management techniques also help a ton but you can’t meditate your way out of HA, you need to eat and rest. Period (pun intended).

I’m an open book. If you want to learn about my very personal journey with HA you can read about it here. I also consult with athletes combining my decades of experience in nutrition, midwifery, and mountain athleticism; you can book a consult with me here. I work together with Brittany to help athletes plan custom training, recovery, and nutrition programs, so if you’re curious ask how we can all work together to keep you doing what you love while you stay healthy.


read more:

Meg's website

Menstruation doping

Why rest? By Lydia Zamorano

My first event on the power of the period!