HOW CYCLING CAN HELP WITH ENDOMETRIOSIS
WITH ENDURANCE FOR ENDO, SANDRA AND MARIE, TOGETHER WITH MANY OTHER PEOPLE, WANT TO COLLECT KILOMETRES AND THUS FUNDS FOR THE ENDOMETRIOSIS ASSOCIATION GERMANY E.V.. THE CAMPAIGN RUNS FROM 24 JULY TO 15 AUGUST AND IS SUPPORTED BY COMPANIES THAT RELEASE FUNDS WHEN A CERTAIN NUMBER OF KILOMETRES IS REACHED. THE DONATIONS WILL THEN GO DIRECTLY TO THE ENDOMETRIOSIS ASSOCIATION. THE AIM IS ALSO TO CREATE A BROADER AWARENESS OF THIS DISEASE. ALTHOUGH ONE IN 10 PEOPLE WITH A UTERUS IS AFFECTED BY ENDO, THE DISEASE RECEIVES ONLY LITTLE ATTENTION AND IS POORLY RESEARCHED.
If you want to take part, you can simply upload your rides to Komoot and link the Endurance for Endo account. Every kilometre counts, because the company donations depend on the total number of kilometres!
You can find out more about the campaign at the bottom of this article!
Endo…what? The chameleon among diseases
Endometriosis is a disease that occurs in people who have a uterus. Cells similar to the lining of the uterus can be found outside the uterine cavity. The infestation can be severe or mild. People with severe infestation can be free of symptoms, whereas mild infestation can still cause severe pain. Although the disease is benign, it can lead to infertility, among other things.
The numbers: Statistically, 1 in 10 people with a uterus is affected by endometriosis. As varied as the symptoms are, as difficult is the diagnosis. On average, it takes 8 to 10 years before a diagnosis is made. The Endometriosis Association considers this is too long.
The idea for Endurance for Endo came about 1.5 years ago when Sandra and Marie were thinking about which organisation they could support by taking part in a long-distance race. The assumption that Marie might have endometriosis had been around for a while. So it made sense to support the Endo Association. What a convenient coincidence that the association is also based in Leipzig, where Marie lives.
ENDOMETRIOSIS DIAGNOSIS IS A LONG JOURNEY: MARIE SHARES HER DAILY ROUTINE OF HER ENDO TRAINING
Marie had to wait 9 years for her endometriosis diagnosis. Last year, she finally had her assumptions confirmed. Here she gives you a little insight into life as a cyclist with endometriosis.
I love my road bike. I would love to ride my bike 24/7. Honestly. But: I also have endometriosis. Behind me are 2, 3, 4, 5… years that were painful almost every month. The pain accompanied me from period to ovulation to period, with only a few pain-free days in between. At some point over the years, it became more intense. In addition to the pain, there was sensitivity to sound, hypersensitivity, pain in the legs and cramps in the hip. In addition, there were confused states and word-finding problems. Cycling helped me to relieve the pain and to be temporarily pain-free, to calm down, to find myself!
Since my diagnosis I have changed a lot in my life, actually you could say I have introduced routines: Sleep routines, eating routines, drinking routines, workout routines, getting up routines and relaxation routines. I manage this very well most of the time. I don’t do so well in stressful times, when I lie flat again and hear my own voice squeaking in my ears. Great – the body makes its own rules. Mindfulness is the top priority.
Cycling with endometriosis
Cycling contributes a lot to my well-being; only little by little did I realise in which stage of my cycle I started in races. At the 430 km Maurice Brocco 24-hour race, about three years ago: We started the day before my period, with pain that usually knocks me out. But I wanted it so much, it was my first long distance; I pushed through it and was relieved when then at 6 in the morning, shortly after the last checkpoint and still 30 kilometres from Leipzig, my period started and my body finally relaxed – I would never do that again now, but the euphoria and the willpower not to be limited by myself were just so great!
When I was diagnosed with endo in 2020, I had already been cycling ambitiously for a long time, I liked to ride longer distances and fixed gear, in fact everything. Give me a bike and I’ll ride it. I had kept a pain and symptom diary for a year beforehand, I had pain in bad phases on about 25 out of 30 days per cycle. Sometimes it was so bad that I couldn’t get up, I vomited, I fainted. The doctors gave me Buscopan, yam capsules, and at some point, somewhat helplessly, I was supposed to take antidepressants so that I would at least be in a good mood when I wasn’t feeling so well.
Then finally, through a tip from the endometriosis association, I was lucky enough to find a sensitive doctor who was specialised in the disease. In addition, thanks to the mediation of Johanna Jahnke, I started an intensive, beneficial, cycle-oriented training. Fortunately, with Jasmjin from Be the egg-Cycle Coaching, I have a trainer by my side who is trained for special hormonal situations and takes a very sensitive approach. She worked out a training plan with me that was tailored to each day of my cycle.
Together with her, I completely changed my diet and started to integrate Yoga, Pilates and core training into my daily routine. Now I don’t need painkillers any more, instead of 20 painful days, I have a maximum of 2 painful days per cycle.
Endometriosis and sport – everything that is good for you
The possibilities for easing the symptoms of endo are as varied and intense as the pain is.
I would also like to emphasise the power of endorphins, which should not be underestimated. Once they are up and moving, the happiness hormones help me get through the day.
I do at least one little thing every day. Either yoga or pilates; it’s very good for me. Core training helps to wake up the body. The tension makes me relax. Cycling relaxes the head, the legs. The fresh air is good for you. And even if it’s just a short ride, at the end I’m glad that I have been outside.
Structured cycling? Yes! But how?
Cycling helps me a lot in reducing my endometriosis symptoms. However, I can only speak for myself. The most important thing is to do what makes you feel good.
People with chronic diseases know it: there are great days when you want to go cycling with the whole world and then there are the days when you can hardly get out of bed.
My strategy for those days is: it’s not the kilometres that matter, but the technique. When I’m really wimpy, I go next door to the park and do mobilising exercises on the bike. I practise picking up drinking bottles from the ground, track stand (but still can’t do it) and taking tight turns. The mobility exercises feel incredibly good when everything is blocked again and the belly is full of air. The drop in progesterone levels at the end of the cycle also causes me to feel very tired and sluggish. I am always close to the water in this phase.
I find it much harder to endure big challenges. My pulse is very high, my muscles don’t cooperate. I sweat quickly and have to pee every 5 minutes. In addition, I don’t want to wear tight jerseys because of the endobelly, which is a painfully bloated belly. That’s where the technical training in the park comes in handy. Afterwards I’m always very happy, pain-free and have new energy.
My endometriosis routines
During this time, long distances are possible. Towards the end, intervals go very well, although at the beginning I always needed a longer recovery from the period, as it is physically and mentally very exhausting. Core training and concentrated Pilates are also very good for me here.
One of my main conditions are cramps on the right side of my leg, starting from my hip. Just before ovulation, I do a lot of stretching and Yoga specifically for endometriosis, for about an hour. During this week I can do intervals, but I have to be careful not to overdo it, as the days around ovulation can be painful again.
The most unspectacular week. I take magnesium, zinc, omega B6 from linseed oil and, in winter, vitamin D when the blood count shows it to be necessary again – During this week I ride long distances without problems and, in the best case, gather strength for the coming week.
This week used to be my worst week. I was bloated, couldn’t move, had concentration problems. My skin felt like you were running sandpaper over glass splinters. In this week I no longer schedule meetings or meet conditionally, I do mobilisation exercises, sleep when I need to sleep and with Yoga, breathing exercises and be the egg cycle coaching’s mindful exercise plan, I’m no longer reliant on painkillers by now. What helps me during this time is not heat, as is the common assumption, but cold. My uterus feels like it’s burning anyway, so the idea of heat makes me very uncomfortable.
Since I have introduced my routines so strictly, it has happened several times that I got my period without even noticing it, because I had no discomfort or pain beforehand. That’s great, but the fear of falling back into old pain phases is very great. That’s why I’m only giving it a quiet “YAY” for now, until I really settle into my routines permanently.
These have been my routines for over half a year. They work very well for me. Since endo is a very individual disease, it doesn’t mean that it works for everyone.
My life and training with endometriosis – a first tentative conclusion
The symptom reduction of the endometriosis still determines my everyday life. In the meantime, I have to say that I can’t find anything wrong with eating healthy, doing regular exercises besides cycling and getting enough sleep. I continue to be in treatment. Once a year I have a blood test because I usually have iron, magnesium and vitamin D deficiencies if I’m not careful. My abdomen is examined regularly. Next I will start a physiotherapy treatment. I’m really looking forward to that, as I’m very excited about the results of Yoga, Pilates and stretching alone.
My doctor treats minimally invasive; I am very grateful for that. I am also grateful for the people who have stayed by my side despite the high level of suffering that the disease brings. The disease will always be a part of me, of course, but it no longer fills me up completely as it did a year ago.
Endurance for Endo campaign: cycling & donations
All activities from 24 July to 14 August count!
The more kilometres WE cycle, the bigger the donations will be! Because the released donation amounts of the supporting companies become bigger, the bigger the total number of kilometres becomes 🥳!
What do you need?
A Komoot account
How does it work?
All cyclists - and therefore maybe you too? - track their kilometres with Komoot (or a connected device or app) and link our Komoot profile to their activities. It's easy!
Not familiar with Komoot?
Here are step-by-step instructions for the Komoot app:
1️⃣ Create an account.
2️⃣ Go to your profile!
3️⃣ Click on Manage Friends!
4️⃣ Search for Endurance for Endo and click +follow!
5️⃣ Track your activity (Record)!
6️⃣ On your profile, go to tours completed and select an activity!
7️⃣ Tag Endurance for Endo as a participant! The activity must be public.
8️⃣ Done 🥳!!!
Text: Marie Beulig
Editors: Sandra Schuberth, Eva Ullrich, Johanna Jahnke
Website/ Layout: Juliane Schumacher
Translation: Stefanie Fritzen
Photo Header: Nicole Donner