ROARing into the New YearJan 17, 2024
The new revised edition of ROAR is out! Here’s what’s new.
When I started working on ROAR nearly ten years ago, it was still considered fringe to say that women’s unique hormones and their menstrual cycles could impact everything from performance to injury risk to hydration and beyond. That was despite elite, high-achieving athletes like elite runner Paula Radcliffe and tennis champion Heather Watson lamenting openly in the press during that time, menstruation was still woefully under-discussed and misunderstood among athletes and their trainers.
Fast forward a decade, and you have research showing, as we discussed in ROAR, that every single cell is impacted by our hormonal milieu. In fact, neuroscientists are even studying for the first time how the ebb and flow of the hormones that orchestrate the menstrual cycle appear to reshape the brain, which makes sense in light of research showing that the structure, connectivity, and energy metabolism of the brain also changes during perimenopause. We’ve also seen research suggesting that combined oral contraceptives could impair emotional regulation in women. And, of course, there’s ongoing research on how this impacts exercise and sports performance, which is a topic of ongoing study.
Today, it’s not uncommon for elite athletes to track their cycles and train according to their individual needs. In fact, in the runup to the U.S. women’s national soccer team winning its fourth World Cup, the team players tracked their menstrual cycles, a strategy that the coaches credited with helping the players to perform their best. We also see how important it is to understand the impact of perceptions, symptoms, and lived experiences on individuals’ performances (from recreational to elite athletes).
Given this new, exciting landscape, it was clear that it was high time for an updated edition of ROAR, which shipped January 9th and is available for order right now. Here’s a little sneak peek into some of the new information included.
When ROAR was published in the summer of 2016, devices like Whoop Strap and Apple Watches had barely emerged in the marketplace. Today, these trackers are everywhere…and yet, they’re still not finely tuned for female physiology. That’s important to understand if you’re relying on your recovery scores. We dive into what they’re good for and where they might fall short, along with an in-depth look into other popular forms of biohacking.
We covered ice baths in the original ROAR, but people weren’t crazy about cold plunges as a means to trigger their parasympathetic drive, boost mood, lower cortisol, and improve various cardiometabolic factors for long-term health benefits. Now, we’ve expanded the section to cover cold-water immersion for both recovery and general health benefits and how women do not need as cold a plunge as men. (Naturally, we also cover sauna, another “hot” trend in this section as well.)
Serena Williams shut out her rival and won the 2017 Australian Open when she was 8 weeks into her pregnancy. In 2022, 33-year-old Chelsea Sodaro shocked the world by winning the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, just 18 months after giving birth. As she told the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) in a post-race interview, “We shouldn’t have to choose between being world-class athletes and being moms.”
Research is finally catching up with these modern moms, and there is actually now research collected on elite runners before, during, and after their pregnancy. We cover all of that, which, as you might expect, shows that pregnancy and motherhood do not have to be the end of the line for performance.
Eating enough, and especially eating enough carbohydrates, is critical for female athletes to support their training and hormonal health. Since ROAR came out, the evidence has been mounting on how damaging low energy availability (LEA) and Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (REDs) are for active females. We’re also getting disturbing insights into how common these conditions are, especially as keto and intermittent fasting regimens continue to permeate the athletic space. We devoted a section to helping active women avoid these all too common pitfalls.
Sleep and Circadian Rhythms
We’ve long known that sleep is when the body recovers and repairs, but the science of sleep has exploded during the past decade, including important insights into how to maximize your expression of human growth hormone and to optimize your circadian rhythms to get the 7 to 9 hours of shut-eye you need to feel and perform your best. We include an expanded section on recovery, sleep, and nonsleep deep rest.
The Gut Microbiome
When we first wrote ROAR, gut microbiome research was in its infancy. But now, there is a plethora of literature to describe the interactions between those little gut bugs, brain health, immunity, mood, and the endocrine system. We dive into the most relevant research to reduce the ambiguity of terminology, what it means to have dysbiosis, and how the diversity of your gut microbiome is important for hormonal health.
Updated Action Plans
Every single plan, program, and recommendation in the original ROAR has been reviewed and updated to reflect current scientific findings. There’s also fresh science throughout the book on all topics important to active females (not just elite athletes!), including hormonal contraceptives, macronutrient needs, hydration, heat and cold acclimation, and much, much more!
Learn more on the ROAR webpage, including where to purchase.
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