Running with the Red Badge of Courage


Periods: they’re historical, physical, and emotional roller coasters that, as women, we’re taught to hide. Consequently, the menstrual cycle goes by many alternative names: Aunt Flow, Crimson Tide, On the Rag, Lady Business, or Moon Time—just to name a few. But my favorite one of all is the Red Badge of Courage.

The Red Badge of Courage has a nice ring to it. It implies bravery and audacity: a sort of vim and vigor that only She Wolf-y warriors possess.

Cramps strike again.

And, to some degree, the name summarizes my menstrual experience quite nicely.

To live through my period is to be courageous, vulnerable, and tenacious. My days are marked by debilitating cramps, an insatiable appetite (for things that my stomach does not agree with), bloating, general lack of coordination, anxiety, major mood swings, shortness of breath, and usually an unwelcome revisit from my friend Body Dysmorphia.

In other words: every time I get my period, it feels like my uterus is totally and utterly revolting. It’s kind of like the movie ‘Gremlins’ except… inside my body. Super fun.

As a runner, this feels extraordinarily annoying and inconvenient. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to reschedule a run because of my period—or tried to prepare for my cycle accordingly and run through the pain regardless. But, realistically, no matter how much sleep I get, water I drink, acupuncture appointments I make, or good foods I eat, I’m lucky if I can make it off the couch. Much less go for a run.

We’ve all felt like this before.

I have a really hard time accepting my period for what it is right now—and I know why. I don’t want to slow down, stop, or hide away because of this womanly thing that happens to me once a month. I want to maintain that fortitude I feel so strongly about….all the way until the day my cramps set in. By then, I’ve stopped feeling courageous or powerful. Most of the time I feel exhausted. I almost always need a good cry (but I most certainly do not like being vulnerable. Nope). That said, I’ll show you what tenacity looks like if you dare try to take even the tiniest spoonful of my Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream.

More importantly, once the cramps have hit me full-bore and the fatigue is wholly recognizable, I want to slow down. I want to sit on the couch. I want to be in oversized sweatpants. But I also want to be running. Or…something.

Striking that healthy balance, while navigating negative self-talk, is tough. Running is so important to me. The act of not-running makes me feel unmoored. Meanwhile, running through my period makes me feel like a flop or a failure. So, instead, I walk. I do things that nurture my mind, body, and soul—because, every other week of the month, I get to nurture myself through running. So why not take the opportunity to indulge myself in other ways?

Trail running cramp free!

And you know what, I’m actually starting to be okay with that. Most of the time. Mind you I said starting. Not totally, 100% cool with it. I also just realized I’m completely out of Lactaid, so this Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream that’s in my freezer is gonna have to wait. So much for a consolation pint. I still feel cranky about the whole damn thing. But that could also be the PMS. I’ll blame it on the PMS for now. Or maybe I’ll just go for a walk.

Monique Seitz-Davis

Monique Seitz-Davis

More commonly known as Moe, Monique Seitz-Davis lives, plays, and runs in and around Salt Lake City, UT. When she’s not farting around the trails, you can find her practicing bird calls, lounging around with her ball python, or rabble-rousing with her three dogs — Gunner Marie, Pearl, and Lily Pig — and Forever Manpanion.

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3 thoughts on “Running with the Red Badge of Courage”

  1. Oh, sweet runner. Thank you for sharing this. I too had a running journey like this for the last 3 years. I bounced from Doctor to Doctor to find out WHY my body had turned on me. After three years I found a doctor who said the words “Advanced Endometriosis” and “Radical Hysterectomy”. Words I had never expected to hear. Two weeks later I underwent surgery. I am now 6 months post op. My stamina is gone, but so is my pain, my mood swings, and my misery. Please find a doctor who will listen. I fought thru so much pain needlessly. I would hate for you to do the same.

  2. Had an aha moment when I read this blog…I always bitch about my period, especially for races and can’t wait for it to be gone forever….but like everything, it is what it is so I guess I need to learn to embrace it instead of fight it…duh! It’s what I say about everything else but never dawned on me with this…maybe because I like to bitch about my period but that doesn’t really do any good anyways…although when I get it, I like to say “well at least I’m not pregnant” so there’s that LOL

  3. Sorry to hear your periods are such a pain, Moe! But it’s great that you are nurturing your mind, body, and spirit. BTW, have you tried the FitrWoman app?


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