Saturday, November 18, 2017

Racing with an Iron Deficiency?

I had a blood test on 9 November — one of the comments at the bottom was 'mild anaemia' (concerning from a performance standpoint for a competitive runner). Haemoglobin was 133 g/L with the normal range being 135 to 180. This was down from 138 in February of 2016. Haematocrit was 0.42, with the normal range being 0.40 to 0.54. I'm having further checks to find out the cause. I'll let you know what's up when the results are available. It may be nothing more than dietary — not getting enough iron via my vegetarian diet.

My training and racing since the last blog post hasn't changed much — around 80 kilometres per week of running, with regular races, moderate length 'long' runs and Verheul intervals. I've had a couple of enjoyable 5k races although they haven't been spectacularly fast. I ran 23:43 in the Boathouse 5k on 31 October, having a good race with Gabe for the second half on a pretty quick course. Last Sunday there was the Fisher's Ghost 5k, a day trip to the beautiful campus of Western Sydney University. Jim did the driving, leaving his place at 4:30 AM! Needless to say, I was well awake by the start time of 8:00 AM after hearing all of Jim's best jokes and running anecdotes during the drive.

I started fairly fast, passing Jimmy in the first straight. He's been dealing with a sciatica injury, sometimes racing well and other times barely being able to walk! I ran up the first hill okay (there are four hills on the 5k course) and can recall having some good battles with young and old runners for the rest of the race. Finishing time was 24:18, 5 seconds faster than last year. Happy it wasn't slower! I placed 2nd in the fairly broad age-group of 60-69 with Jim placing a happy 3rd. Norma outshone us both by taking out the 70+ female category as an 85-89 runner in the spectacular time of 38:53!

Speedygeese long run at Mount Painter


Blogger TokyoRacer said...

Well, since you're running as well or better than 10-12 months ago, I guess the anemia is not a problem. Eat more spinach.

6:36 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Bob. Perhaps! I feel like I'm racing a little tired of late. Could be the way my training week is structured. Apparently if you bounce back after a few days of rest that can be an indication that iron deficiency is having a negative effect on performance. It's subtle in the early stages.

8:26 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I would enjoy a good 5k race over a "spectacularly fast" 5k time. Kept it up, the times will come. The Runners World article was very interesting. Hopefully it is simply a diet issue - you are onto it early. Look on the bright side, better performances to come. Nifty Nev.

6:14 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Nev. Must say I enjoy the racing aspect of races more than 'fast' times, although those are good too! You remember the battles and the tactics. I wish more runners would do track 3s and 5s. We're a long way from the days of 2 or 3 heats sadly.

8:44 pm  
Blogger Janene said...

For some people it can be a challenge to keep their iron levels within normal range, despite a good diet. Red meat is the best source, but for some even that isn’t enough. You may need to supplement for a little while to improve levels. You are running well despite it. Maybe with the right balance you will kick up a level.

10:19 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Janene for that comment. My levels have always been on the low side, although higher than this when I was eating meat. I'd like the balance to be within normal levels, just so I don't feel tired when training and racing.

2:56 pm  
Blogger Janene said...

I eat plenty of red meat and still have issues with iron. With all your running/big mileage, your turnover will be increased. Hopefully you get good advice from your doc. Just make sure you take vitamin C with your iron supplements as that helps boost absorption. Hopefully jets sorted soon so you have plenty of energy for fraining and racing :-)

6:11 pm  
Blogger Lize Brittin said...

I know how draining it can be to have anemia. For vegetarians, getting enough iron can be tough, but you can try cooking in an iron skillet, adding some molasses to hot drinks, and doing what Janene said with vitamin C. Meat is definitely the best, most absorbable source of iron. Heme iron differs from iron found in other sources.

You still ran well! Congrats on the race.

I hope you get things sorted out and you start feeling better soon.

1:25 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

That's interesting Janene. Thanks!

Lize, I didn't know about molasses. I'll try that. Maybe I'm one of those people who don't absorb plant iron as well as heme iron? Anyway, thanks re the race - it was enjoyable and I didn't feel that bad.

8:22 pm  

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