University of Stirling Masters student Anya Le Monnier chose an important and valuable topic for her final project and we’re delighted we can share on Fast Running. 

The title of the work comprehensively covers the topic, but what are the lessons we can take away from “Bridging the gap between the female athlete menstrual health research revolution and it’s understanding, consideration and application by coaches: A study from the coach’s perspective.”

Within the media in recent years we have started to see more discussion of female health and performance. World class athletes such as Dina Asher-Smith, Eilish McColgan and Jasmin Sayers have been leading the pack to help everyone overcome the taboo around menstrual health and sport.

As a male coach myself it is an area that I know my knowledge is still developing, but equally important is the communication channels between coach and athlete as well. Still an under-researched topic, coaches need to grow their own knowledge and practice as the subject receives greater focus.

The infographic below shares some of the findings of Le Monnier’s work, where the student spoke to a variety of sports coaches through semi-structured interviews and an online survey.

Infographic: Anya Le Monnier

The findings?

If you’re not into infographics, then what are the main take-aways? The barriers that coaches self-identified included “lack of knowledge and education, conversational barriers and a lack of time”. A male dominated agenda means that female focused research is underrepresented. Female focused sports and coaching resources are out there but difficult to find, especially in one place.

The solutions? The first being the inclusion of menstrual health in sport into NGB-led education. The education needs to be for athletes and coaches, and part of this could be helpful in breaking down the barriers of communication that some feel.

Conversation is important. Open, proactive communication between athletes and coaches can not only help each individual, but increase knowledge and understanding for all. How to open those channels of communication is one of the barriers some coaches felt they faced.

If you’re a coach reading this far, then you’re obviously looking to improve your own knowledge and communications on this topic and one method that I have found useful as a male coach working with female athletes is to share resources, such as this article, with your athletes. Let them know you’re trying to increase your own knowledge and understanding and then you have taken a proactive step in opening up the conversation.

Where next?

If you’re looking for more resources to increase your knowledge then there are some great apps like FitrWoman that can help athletes track their period and train smarter, but also leading researchers, such as Kirsty Sale, or Georgie Bruinvels, are great to follow on the subject too.

Another resource, recommended by Le Monnier, was The Well HQ.  Run by a medic, coach and a scientists, their website describes their story as follows: “The Well is built on cutting-edge science, expertise and experience. Through community, resources and support for women and those who work closely with women, we can bridge the knowledge gap. We can become the architects of our own health, happiness and performance.”