Lil Miss Mountain Maven

Musings on running and outdoor adventure/playtime gear and life in general

It’s not just the parts: how our cycles affect our training and performance

Gentlemen, consider yourselves informed: I am about to discuss the effect of women’s monthly hormone cycles on training and athletic performance. If words like “ovulation” and “luteal” phase weird you out, just stop reading now and go back to your Men’s Health mag. Consider yourself fore-informed.

I ovulated yesterday.

It was miserable.

Cramps, impatience, and the kind of fatigue that makes you just want to put your head down anywhere (that nice stack of shirts on the table at the Prana store looks so comfortable…..). Seems counterintuitive, seeing as how we all know what evolution clearly wants to occur during that day, but that’s how it is for me and certain women. I don’t want to do that, I don’t want to lift, I don’t want to run, I just want to curl up in my bed and snuggle with my Care Bear and purple sock monkey. Luckily, the other time of month does not have nearly the same effect, while for some of you it does.

At this point you may be wondering why I am *ahem* venting about lady time on this site. I think most of you are aware of the benefits of periodizing (ha! See what I did there?) your training for a particular competition or event. See it as a blessing, see it as a curse, but our bodies intrinsically force us to further adjust our training flow (Oh man I am on a roll!) on a monthly basis. We can thank our hormone fluctuations for that.

Shannon Clark wrote an excellent overview on the effect our monthly cycles have on our training for T Nation (+1 for the irony of the site’s name, given the subject matter).

Being an athlete requires a particular attuning with the individualized workings of your own body: your strengths and weaknesses, what foods work for you and which do not do so well, what kind of training your body thrives on (regardless of what your brain might try to tell you during hard workouts!), and what kind of sleep schedule and amount of sleep allows you to function at your best. For all of us, but women in particular, hormone fluctuation cycles play a huge role.

Let’s get down to specifics. I am going to use myself as an example for the remainder of this piece, because my body is the one I know best!

The day I ovulate (around day 12, 13, or 14 in my cycle), I just want to sleep. I slog through my workouts. That key track workout? Nope. Not happening. The attempt at a max deadlift? Uh uh. I try to steer clear of any workouts that require significant nutritional recovery because the increase of progesterone in my system inhibits digestion. Thanks GI tract, PS I’m not incubating a miniature human right now, I’d like to absorb those nutrients thank you kindly! So what can and do I do?

First, I eat, because supporting 50% of a wannabe human requires energy. Luckily, this is also the time that metabolic rates are highest, so while it’s not an excuse to eat ALL THE DELICIOUSNESS (save it for after a marathon!), I feel fine about listening to my body and fueling it. This is also an excellent time to focus on more base/maintenance oriented workouts (and not the best time to attempt that deadlift max, save that for a few days after ladytime when your pain tolerance is high and you’ve started to replenish your iron levels).

Then…… Ladytime! Our favorite, right? However, for all the whining we do about it, I secretly do kind of like *some* aspects of it. As a kundalini yogi, that is the time to replace Breath of Fire with long, deep breathing (and to avoid inversions too). In that way, it’s a nice reminder to periodically be gentler on your body. I also like that it feels like a release, a cleansing. Letting go of the old to allow room for the new. After the plummeting of progesterone (I can digest again HALLELUJAH!), estrogen begins to rise and emotions begin to stabilize. And buh-bye water retention (Hi abs, missed you last week!) Ahhhhh, normalcy. At least, my version of normalcy 🙂


So how do these fluctuations actually benefit us? You could take the perspective that it forces us to microperiodize, thus keeping us in the mental game with workout variance, and decreasing the likelihood that our muscles will get used to the training and result in a plateau. It also keeps us aware of how our hormones affect our emotions (which carry over into all parts of our lives, not just fitness) and motivation. Quite simply, I’m a proponent of knowing your body, your mind, and the interplay between the two. I hope with this new knowledge, we can say GOAL: ACHIEVED!

Lastly: I use the following iPhone app to track my cycle. It allows me to see what point I will likely be at a few months in the future, which helps for planning competitions and races. I also include notes sometimes, because if anything seems out of the ordinary I can see my doc and provide her with as much info as possible.

Thank you science, I’m sorry you have to be a scapegoat sometimes. We all still love you!


A Case Against Fit Shaming

Noted: The addition of this statement at the tail end of the article

*This article reflects the opinion of the author and was written in a satirical manner. “

That was not there when this was initially making the rounds on the internets.

(Therein lies lesson #1: What is posted online NEVER gets erased. NEVER. It’s immortal, like Vanna White and Donald Trump’s combover.)

That addition is a tad suspicious, since I know *I * myself shared the article and said “I sincerely hope this is satire.” But I digress.

Even with satire, hell, the entire point of satire, is that it’s the literary equivalent of saying something while drunk. “Oh, I didn’t mean it, I was drunk, let’s just forget it.” Thing is, drunkenness merely removes one’s filter. Those thoughts are there, otherwise they would not have been manifested verbally rather than remaining inside one’s head.

If this is indeed a satire, that still means that Kayla has observed people expressing the very ideas she has compiled. Is it ok for people to have and express their feelings? YES! But when expressing one’s own feelings and opinions, it is imperative to be mindful of the true origin of those thoughts. To be discussed after my point by point rebuttal 😉

#1 They make completely average people think they are famous.

Phew. Ok, where to begin? 1- We have the Kardashians, and the other reality-show-du-jour cast members (I don’t have tv, so I’m proudly out of that loop). Not only that, but even famous people are actually average people too. They grocery shop, exercise, read bedtime stories to their kids, etc etc. They simply have the added facet of being known among more people than we are. But even then, there are many levels of celebrity. Many are known almost worldwide (Einstein, Mother Theresa, Jesus), nationally (Hilary Clinton, Matthew McConaughey), then on down to either the town community level (those people in your town that are everyone there knows) or other community level (such as running: the Gouchers and Shalane Flanagan; metaphysical art: Alex Grey and Android Jones; bodybuilding/fitness: Ashley Horner). 

If someone gains recognition within their community, if they use that recognition to propel the good aspects of that community, then awesome! With celebrity comes responsibility, which is a challenge. Props to those who accept supercede the challenge.

#2 They make you feel bad for eating normal food.

No, YOU make you feel bad for eating whatever food you eat. My girl Kate put it best: 

“It would be nice to begin shifting our attitude from “xyz food is bad” to “I don’t feel my best when I eat xyz food.”

Many people have beliefs about food and food groups that rival intense religious factions; barring an allergy or intolerance, most of us would benefit from relaxing our grip on these ideas.

For example, I have celiac and am allergic to dairy. I know if I choose to eat these things, I will be sick. I also know that I feel my best when I don’t eat sugar and eat minimal grains. Do I believe all of these to be “bad”? Of course not. And that slight shift of intention and attitude is an important one. If I choose to eat sugar, I am not “being bad,” but I probably won’t feel my best either.

When we begin to treat ourselves like we deserve the best in life—in every area—it can have profound effects on how we choose to nourish ourselves.” 

We are responsible for our own feelings. That thread is woven throughout the tapestries of our lives.

#3 They think this is sexy:

*still trying to find an awesome picture for this*

Everyone has their own idea of what is sexy. Believe me, I’ve worked in some places where I have witnessed that firsthand. We are all different, from what we enjoy doing to how our brains work to what we find sexy. That’s what keeps life interesting: finding those with different passions and those who share our passions are both wonderful experiences and connections.

Not only that, but if lifting and getting stacked is what makes you feel right in your own body, you exude that, and confidence is perhaps the sexiest character trait of all.

#4 They only know how to express themselves in meme form

The non-fitness community is also guilty of meme-overindulgence. As long as they’re clever and not hurtful, I dig ’em; they sprinkle random giggles into my day.

#5 They complain about their self-imposed lifestyle (e.g. “meal-prepping”)

Everyone does that. About everything. Co-miseration is a form of connection, although I wholeheartedly admit I prefer co-rad-ation (“This is the coolest, isn’t it?!”)

#6 They upload photos and videos of workouts that anyone can do

Exactly. They share because 1- It’s their passion and 2- it might be that final bit of inspiration another person needs to try it him/herself. The symbiosis of uplifting is nothing to hate on, rather, witnessing it and loving on it raises one’s own energy. It’s utilizing the law of entropy to our advantage.

#7 They suddenly believe they are certified nutritionists

Nothing’s wrong with sharing cool information. We are also all an experiment of one. I was vegan for two years because that is what my body needed and thrived on at the time. I now incorporate some meats (chicken turkey and fish) and goat dairy, because my body is craving those forms of protein and has been assimilating them well. Of course I remain gluten free on account of the Celiac, but it’s about listening to your body and eating things as close to their natural form as possible.

And here’s another little secret: I’m the one most intimately affected by my dietary choices. If I eat shitty food for me, I’m the one who feels like trash. Oh buddy, it’s that R word again, RESPONSIBILITY!

#8 They “follow” and “like” people and posts as if they belong to some sort of cult…..which they do

So, they like something that is positive……. is that bad? As long as they are not brainwashed and forced to follow anything, I’m cool with it.

#9 Neon

Radical self-expression. If those are the color frequencies that resonate with them, then I’m glad that they are owning it. 

#10 Their food makes us sad

Those pictures of the chicken and asparagus look delicious to me. And cakes and pasta are completely unappealing to me. Those are my choices; they don’t have to be yours.

#11 They date each other, procreate and form tribes of weightlifting spawn

Like attracts like. Relationship is about connecting, and shared interests facilitate that process. Though the “spawn” (I prefer to think of them as “the manifestation of a loving connection”) may not necessarily be superpowerlifters. Some athletes have physically uncoordinated but mindblowingly artistic children. Children are mini-mes only in the coding of the DNA, not necessarily its expression.



The main theme that I feel this article brings to light is the role of shame in our society. That is what truly deserves exploration: why we have given so much more power to shame rather than the celebration of our unique choices. We are much more powerful when we emanate from within rather than absorbing the mores of others. Let’s raise the energy of the world and see what happens. I have a suspicion it will be pretty amazing!

Love is all there is……. It takes many shapes and forms and morphs and evolves, but it is all there is.

Dear Mom,

I was just about to write you and Dad to check in, I heard about what happened and have been following it via the Woodson Alumni Facebook page (and I will admit I am tempted to fly out just for Wednesday to attend that meeting).

It is absolutely heartbreaking.
I would be lying if I said I had never entertained those thoughts when I was younger. And yes, even after John broke up with me some of those thought patterns resurfaced.
But now I know that’s exactly what they are.
They are old patterns. They are strangers in my mindspace. They are NOT ME anymore. (See? The psych degree is worthwhile!)
When those thought patterns did resurface, those thoughts made me shudder, because I know that I have a purpose, and that it is very important. I will never do anything to myself even in my darkest of times because my belief in that purpose is too strong, and that is not my choice to make, it is up to the universe.
I know that life is a balance, there are amazing fly above the clouds moments, and moments that suffocate you under the weight of heavy flowing sand. You know I’m stubborn as hell, and I am determined to use ALL of the moments in my life to constantly learn and evolve and blossom into the better me that I know I become each moment. And yes, I know I am loved, and I do my best to share, reciprocate, and pay that love forward every day. Do I get short tempered or *gasp* bitchy or selfish sometimes? Well of course, I’m human too, but I try to minimize those occurrences, be mindful of them when they do occur, and above all live authentically and maybe inspire others to do the same.
I would love to tell the families and friends of those kids, those souls they cherished and loved and will always cherish and love, that I wish I could tell them it will all be alright. But I can’t. Life will go on, and there will be more amazing and beautiful moments in their lives. But the loss will never go away. Their hearts will always ache for their boys sometimes. And that’s okay.
Because it means that they have had the opportunity to feel, and to love fully.
Maybe it will change the climate at Woodson now. Maybe it won’t. But I can tell you, and I would tell them, that I am damn sure that the ceasing of the earthly existence of their boys will inspire at least one person, if not many of us, to live more fully, more authentically, more compassionately, and more lovingly.
Because honestly, love is all there is. It may morph and shift and evolve, but it’s always there. That’s what matters.
On Mar 2, 2014, at 12:14 PM, Carol Hebbe wrote:
Dear Megs,
THANK YOU so much for your recent e-mail. I really needed it though I do wish I was there to listen and just try to be there for you.. to “Mom” you… I know that you have really hit a rough spot and are still grieving the loss of a very cherished relationship.. The fact that other aspects of your life are also not secure truly affects your balance. I wish there was something I could say or do to ease your suffering and your dis-connect.. and to assure you that you WILL find your path and be able to look back and realize you had to go thru all this turmoil to reach your calling… Do remember, we are a family of late bloomers…. on both sides…. Your Dad took a while to get his bearings as did your Uncle Rock….
Your family IS there for you as are so many people who’s lives you have touched and aren’t necessarily aware of.
Current Events:
There have been TWO suicides involving Woodson students this past week. One lived on Clara Barton. I pass by his house each day when I go on my morning walk… I have smiled and exchanged pleasantries with him and his sister when they have been outside. It is so tragic and it shakes you to your core. I can not imagine the devastation the family is experiencing along with his fellow students and WTW community. He was well liked, an excellent student, and a respected athlete. The second suicide which took place several days later was eerily similar and unexplained…. Well thought of, good student and athlete. It is beyond tragic and is so scary. I can only assume that depression played a major part in this whether diagnosed or not…
And Megan I know this is something you deal with and it concerns me enormously. I realize that running and working out help but I question whether it is enough and am concerned that you are not availing yourself to what might possibly be helpful. Someone to talk to… medication… I don’t know, but I DON”T WANT TO LOSE YOU…. You are MY HEART….You are so precious and SPECIAL and SO LOVED…. As your Mom, I would give anything to make it “all better”…. to have words of wisdom to impart… to ease your sorrow… But, all I can do is let you know that you are a true gift and that I continually pray for strength and guidance for you so that you will find your way and achieve the happiness you so deserve….

Protected: We are Woodson. We are Love. We are Human. We are Everything.

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Gifting and Intentions

Last night, my mother was telling me about something that was upsetting her. She is very involved in outreach ministries at her church, and one had her feeling unappreciated. The situation: a young family just welcomed their second child, who is still in the hospital due to complications stemming from being born with Down syndrome. My mother created a schedule for people to bring meals Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights, but was told last night that the mother would prefer to pick up all meals for the week on Sunday. If you heard my mother tell it, this was a personal slight to all involved. “This started as a ministry of bringing meals to the sick, and the important thing wasn’t the meal, it was the companionship! It was getting to know them! Now all these young entitled people just want us to provide their food! The baby’s not even home yet, she’s in the hospital!……”

When I heard her vent about this, what I really heard was that she felt hurt because she did not feel personally needed. I tried to remind her that perhaps the meals are just what the family needs right now, especially with the stress of the baby still being in the hospital. They may want to focus on their family time, and having someone to take care of the meal planning helps with that stressor, but it should not come with the stipulation of replacing it with the stress of entertaining others. And yes, even if they are just accepting meals, they are still accepting her and her presence in their lives, even if at the moment it is in the form of a meal created and assembled for them.

I think we occasionally forget that in order to fully give, we must truly let go. Let go of our expectations for the use of that gift. Besides, the nature of giving is twofold- there is the material, tangible gift, but the true gift is the sentiment of “I wanted to add something to your life because I care about you that much.” That latter gift cannot be transmuted or given away.

It’s hard for sure! There is a reason re-gifting is the butt of many, many jokes (poor little guy!). It’s especially difficult when the gift is a little more personal in nature, when it comes more directly from the heart, such as when that gift is words of advice. In that case, I try to remind myself that when I give advice (if someone has asked for it of course), that gift has two recipients: it is as much a gift for me to feel that not only did that person value my opinion enough to ask my perspective, but the possibility of it helping that person is, in a word, awesome! But people certainly don’t follow all of the advice I give them, as I have not followed every bit of advice I have been given. But it still helped me choose which path to follow, as I’m sure mine has for others.

And the best kept secret of giving? You get to see how the gift is reshaped by that person. You get to see it in a way you didn’t before.

That’s an interplay I want to continue to be a part of 🙂

Instinctual reactions to anger…. What do they reveal about our character?

When I get blindingly mad (which, although I try to remain as calm as possible in all situations, does happen from time to time on account of the whole being a feeling human being thing), I just want to throw things. Things heavy enough to make the throw feel significant and to require some exertion, but not too heavy to result in a “throw” and a thud two feel away.

Some people like to punch things.

Others stomp, or scream (okay, I admit I’m a primal screamer too).

What do these reactions reveal about our character or our perceptions of the world?

I like throwing things because even though it is representative of feats of strength and power, it does not hurt anyone (unless they get in the way, in which case their own damn fault (See starting at 0:52). Most importantly, it is letting go. Once I throw something, I don’t go to it’s landing spot to throw it again. I throw it and it is gone to me. I have experienced and then released the challenge it presented to me. I have become stronger from it.

Thus I am intrigued by those who want to punch things. They put their force into an opposing force that may very well stop their own. They continually meet resistance. That to me would simply build greater frustration over time rather than allow it to dissipate. I’d be very curios to hear the perspective of an anger puncher, why that is their instinct and the schemas they have built around it.

As for screamers…… I just like the release of built up primal emotion, the energy deep within my core.

*No, I’m not angry today, just watched this video and it got me thinking!

Dear Venerable BAA

Dear BAA, most revered and timeless racing institution,

I would like to thank you and commend you for acting in so honorable a manner in the wake of the atrocities of last year’s race.

However, I must admit I take contention with the handling of the invitational entires granted for a selected number of writers who submitted our tales of how the events of that day affected us. I respect that you can only handle so many runners, as the course and amenities require a field size limit. I may indeed be a little biased, since I poured my heart out in my submission and it was not deemed worthy of an entry.

That is where I take contention. The message I heard from you, though I am sure it is not the message intended, was “Megan, nice story but you experience was not VALID enough for us to invite you to soothe your soul by running with us this year.” My fingers and toes and arms and legs are still intact, yes; my loved ones were not physically injured. But I still heard the blasts, and the cries, and saw the blood. I do still cry unexpectedly because something brings me back to those moments. I know that if I find myself in a similar situation in my lifetime, I will run towards the sounds and the source of danger knowing full well I am risking my life and safety because I regret not doing that.

All I ask is for validation and recognition that my life and my heart were forever altered that day too, along with many others who wrote for you and those who were unable to express themselves in writing. Perhaps a special Survivors’ Boston Marathon, on a different day, or even early that morning or later that day, to let us come to what has been imprinted in our minds as a place of sorrow and change it to one of peace and strength.

Yours always,

Megan Hebbe