The winter sun was shining on my face, feeling warm against the chill of the air, as I ran slowly up the hill. I was feeling a bit grotty, a bit sluggish, and it was good to get outside.
I stopped to take a picture halfway up the hill, the view across the snow-capped mountains beautiful in the late afternoon sun, and I took a deep breath, feeling glad to be alive.
As I got towards the top of the track, I felt a familiar sensation. Uh-oh. I looked down, and could see dark red against the light blue of my running tights on the inside of my thigh.
Oh god. My period.
I was only halfway into my run, I still had to go all the way back down yet, I had nothing with me, and no layers to cover up.
I instantly looked around, blushing, a hot flush creeping up my neck; an instinctive reaction of embarrassment and shame. I couldn’t tell what was visible or not, the front didn’t look too bad but obviously I had no idea about the back of my running tights. It was a busy track, full of people to pass.
There wasn’t anything I could do, apart from run back down. I thought about taking my running jersey off and tying it around my waist, but that would mean running in just a sports bra, and I figured that was probably worse.
My gentle run to help me feel better turned into a pretty fast tempo run that gave me my fastest ever kilometre time. I was eager to get back to my car, away from people, back into privacy.
When I ran down the track though, unintentionally free bleeding, it actually felt quite liberating – when there weren’t people around.
Of course, there was nothing I could do, it wasn’t anything to be ashamed of, and with each step I shed some of that embarrassment and shame, but I can’t deny I was thankful to get back to my car.
Why are we taught that periods are shameful? Something to be embarrassed about, spoken about in hushed whispers, or hidden, not to be talked about at all.
After all, it’s a natural bodily function for around 50% of the world’s population, and comprises of so many more things than just a bit of blood, but yet it’s still a taboo subject.