At Wild.AI we want to help women optimize their training, eating and recovery around their hormones in order to improve performance. But there is an important distinction between training and performance that is key to understand. Not many in the fitness industry are aware of this, so we’re excited to have you here and well done for wanting to know more!
Training Vs Performance:
The terms “training” and “performance” are often used interchangeably, but there are actually important differences between them.
Training is the process of learning how to do something in order to be able to do it effectively, while performance is the actual execution of the learned skill. involves engaging in activities that challenge you to learn new skills and improve existing ones. It often involves repetition and practice to ensure that the skills become second nature.
Performance, on the other hand, is the application of these skills to complete tasks (such as competing in a race or game) as efficiently and accurately as possible.
For example, an athlete may engage in training activities such as running drills or weight-lifting which allows them to build the strength and endurance necessary for peak performance in a sporting event. They will then use those skills in a game or race, where their performance is judged.
The interchangeability between the terms “training” and “performance” is likely due to the fact that perception of the two does not differ vastly for men, as their hormonal landscape is consistent. Therefore it’s fair that in a male context, training and performance could be interchangeable. However, the hormonal shifts that women go through impact both how we train and the way we think about training.
At Wild.AI we help optimize training:
At Wild.AI, we understand that training and performance are two separate things and, particularly when it comes to working with your hormones, this distinction is key. Our app and coaching platform makes recommendations for training based on what stage of your cycle you’re in. Therefore, when you’re training, you can program your training to coincide with hormonal fluctuations , and, as an added bonus, learn to understand your body better to get strong and increase your gains.
These gains from your optimized training will in turn lead to better performance, However, again the distinction comes back into play. It's very possible to have a race on the first day of your period (it happens all the time) and this is something you can’t control. But what you can control and how you can maximize performance is by optimizing your training and having enough knowledge and understanding of your body to know that you can perform and also mitigate the symptoms that may arise.
Dr Stacy Sims, the leading expert on female physiology and one of Wild.AI’s founding partners, said it best when she was quoted in Running Magazine “When we talk about performance, there’s never a negative point in the menstrual cycle. When we talk about training, there are ups and downs. We can get better training adaptations when our bodies are more resilient to stress, and then start to taper down to support that hard training. But for performance, just go, just hit it hard” (1)
What the research says:
We could chat about this all day, but in the end what really matters is the research behind it and the supporting evidence.
So here it is!
Research suggests that a woman’s performance on race day may be slightly reduced during the early follicular phase, but is largely not impacted by the specific point in her menstrual cycle during which the race takes place (2). However, you can optimize TRAINING to take into account the changing hormone levels that come with each phase of the menstrual cycle (see our article in Garmin!) Hacking your menstrual cycle to maximize your gains can ultimately lead to an overall improved performance on game day!
Additionally with proper nutrition, adequate rest, and effective recovery techniques, athletes can ensure they are adequately prepared to handle any physical or mental challenge they face in competition. Ultimately by understanding the advantages of periodized training programs that are tailored to the menstrual cycle, athletes can maximize their performance and reach their desired goals.
One more time for the people in the back:
When it comes to female performance, and working with your hormones, focusing on training and the long-term impact, rather than performance and a moment in time is key. If one understands their body, hormones, menstrual cycle phase (if they have one) and symptoms, then one can optimally prepare to perform no matter what phase they might be when it comes to race day.
If you’re a coach and feel like you’re on board with this distinction of training and performance, and interested in learning more about how to optimize your clients and athletes training, WIld.AI’s coaching platform can help!
- Hambleton, Brittany. “Women and Endurance Running Part One: How to Train with Your Cycle.” Canadian Running Magazine, 21 May 2021, https://runningmagazine.ca/sections/training/women-and-endurance-running-part-one-how-to-train-with-your-cycle/.
- McNulty, Kelly Lee, et al. “The Effects of Menstrual Cycle Phase on Exercise Performance in Eumenorrheic Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Sports Medicine, vol. 50, no. 10, 2020, pp. 1813–27, https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-020-01319-3.