This is intended to be a small, and non-professional guide to getting your period back if you're currently suffering from amenorrhea.
Again, I'm no doc, and this is not intended to be classified as professional medical or nutrition advice.
Most female runners lose their period due to too little food, too little recovery, and too much running.
It's pretty simple: when your body doesn't have the energy it needs, it shuts down non-critical body functions (like baby-making machines) and reallocates the energy to more critical functions.
For words on the mental and emotional side of what it takes to return to full health, see my original post, and start at the bottom section, Phycological Challenges with Recovery.
The following are physical steps you'll need to take to get your period back.
1. Have the conversation - Your talking points
Chances you will make any progress without your family, coach and/or key teammates & friends understanding your need to make drastic changes are low.
Just talk. Set up the meeting. Have the conversation. Be brave.
During this conversation, communicate the following:
I am missing my period, and have been for [this long]
I am hell-bent on getting it back to be healthy in the long term
This will mean lowered performance in the near term (potentially the next several months)
I will be missing many practices, lessening my training load, not participating in many workouts, and I WILL be gaining weight
No matter how fast or fit I am right now, I can guarantee you I will be fitter, and more reliably so, after all this is over
This is going to be an investment on both our parts, and I'll need your logistical and emotional support in order to really follow through with it
How do you think you can best help me?
If this person isn't your biggest fan and advocate after this conversation, drop them. You won't need to, though. They will be.
2. Lessen your training load
You may cut out workouts or high-intensity stuff. You might drop all long runs, too. You might only do mileage during the week, excluding workouts or any runs under a zone-2 heart-rate pace.
To make it easy, I'd suggest HALVING your training load, whatever that means to you. If you're at 80 miles a week, drop to 40, and make all of those miles easy-paced.
This is the hardest thing to do because you'll start to feel better and know that you can do more. You're pretty fit, after all. Don't get trapped in this mindset. Trust the process, and trust that the other half of these miles are disappearing from your fitness, but will be back in your pocket when you've fully healed (i.e. your period has returned).
3. Nutrition - What to EAt
I should just type "more," and leave it at that.
You'll be tempted to calculate the exact number of calories you've been eating, multiply it by 1.78538 times the number of calories you burned during your last training session and test out how that goes for a day or two - or use some other hyper-scientific approach. DON'T DO THIS.
Let's be honest, if you've lost your period, you're intense, and maybe a little compulsive, eh? Don't beat yourself up about that - it's hard-wiring.
Instead, just pick this one thing to go loosey-goosey on, just this once. Here are the 3 loosey-goosey rules you can follow in this context:
1. Shop on the perimeter of the store, and buy food that doesn't have (or normally require) a nutrition label
More than anything, your body is lacking the right amount of nutritional density. Feed her carbs, fats, and proteins (emphasis on carbs) that will build up that foundation of nutritional abundance. "Sometimes" foods are okay, too, but load yourself up with the stuff that nature intended your body to have, and your body will behave like it naturally would.
2. Follow your cravings
'Craving' has become a cuss word, but in the early days before mankind tried to make their own versions of the food God and evolution already made us, it's what we used to decide what our bodies needed in terms of nutrition. Follow your 300,000-year-old promptings.
3. Eat more & don't weigh yourself
I know in the peak of the season, every ounce counts toward or against your time. Not now. Now is a period of healing and rest. Stop counting cals, weighing yourself, or looking critically in the mirror.
Just eat, and eat well. Your portion sizes are going to be bigger. You may even eat more frequently throughout the day. That's fine, just eat more. Embrace the build, you'll need it in a few months when you're crushing your PB's.
This is the most exciting part of the whole recovery process. Man, sleep is so good. I'd do it 24 hours a day if I knew how and so did my 2-year-old.
Get 10 hours. No, I'm not kidding. 10 hours a night. If you can't do that, take a nap during the day to reach a daily total of 10, and do the nap before 3 pm.
Take these majorly important steps, and you will rebound far past the point you thought was your max when your period was missing.
I am so excited for you. We need women functioning at full capacity. Screw the world who tells you that's at a point where you're unhealthy.