Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Did someone forget the iron?

My runs have been unpredictable lately.  I'll have some really dynamic runs, where everything is clicking and I'm firing on all cylinders.  Then I'll have runs where I just can't get things started and I sputter the whole time, never getting into a groove.  Then I have runs that run the gamut inbetween both extremes. 

I couldn't figure it out either.  My pre-run fuels would be the same, I would hydrate appropriately, I would fuel during the runs, and yet I would get so many different outcomes.

Then I was reading an article about nutrition that runners need to properly fuel their body.  Read through the article and thought nothing of it, it was the same basic list everyone writes.  Rest, hydration, lean proteins, etc, etc.  I never gave it a second thought...well that is until my run this past Saturday.

One of the things on the list was iron.  

Iron?  No, not that type of iron.  Why is that an issue though?  Well here is an excerpt from an article from Runners World:

Like other athletes, runners are more likely to experience low iron levels than the general population because the mineral is lost through sweat. Runners, however, seem to be more susceptible than other endurance athletes, possibly due to the sport's impact. "GI upset when running can lead to increased blood loss and increased iron needs," says Gidus. Runners may also lose trace amounts of the mineral through footstrike, which damages red blood cells in the feet, leading to iron loss. (Improved cushioning in running shoes has helped mitigate this, says Gidus.) 

A lightbulb went on and was beaming right in my face.  How could I have missed that?  And why is that hitting me so hard?

I'm anemic.  

Even before I began working out, I knew I had an iron deficiency.  My iron count is so low that they won't even let me donate blood because it is worthless to them.  When I found that out, I began taking iron supplements (under the direction of my physician).  I would notice a definite change in my energy when I took it regularly and I would feel a lot better.  Then I would start to forget to take it (you have to take it at the same time every day for it to be effective and you can't take it with any other supplements because calcium actually prohibits the absorption of the iron) and I would be right back to square one.  Fatigued all the time. 

Now that I'm training and running more, I notice that I'm increasingly fatigued now.  I'm getting more sleep, which is a good start, but with my new consistent training I'm still ridiculously tired.  I'd thought it was stress, nope, it's because I'm not taking care of myself in the way I should always be.  I need to take my supplements and I need to be more consistent with it.  

So I made a pledge to myself to start being consistent and I started taking them again on Saturday night (10/27).  I'll blog about how I'm feeling in two weeks to see if taking my supplements helps my runs become more consistent and if I feel less fatigued overall.

Questions for you:  Have you read about something that you maybe lacking in your diet and realized that might be a factor of you not improving?  What was it?  How did you overcome it?  Did you improve? 

1 comment:

  1. OMG .. Total facepalm here. I always wondered why I felt SO immensely fatigued when I went for runs during / just after my monthly visitor .. Duhhh iron ... Wow. Thank you for this!! I never even thought it could be iron!! And I had no idea that iron was lost so easily through sweat!