Sunday, February 20, 2011

Get the iron in to get the lead out!

Fatigue has been an ongoing challenge during my training journey.  I've been ramping up my total weekly kilometers more agressively than recommended, and it has left me feeling like the tank is low more days than not. 

I am lucky to have the world's greatest physiotherapist helping me in my training journey.  She is a sub-3:00 marathoner, and brings more to the table than the average physiotherapist.  She knows running...and knows runners.  I see her once ever week or two so that she can work on my problematic Illiotibial Band .  As I lay on the physio table - writhing in the most pain I expect I'll ever experience outside of childbirth - I tell her about my running concerns.

When I told my PT about my fatigue, she provided two pieces of advice.  The first was to put my current state of affairs into perspective.  I'm running more and that means my body is going to need more sleep.  The second was to have my feratin levels checked as the endurance athlete's body will use more iron than a sedentary person, and my daily iron supplement may not be doing it for me. 

Sometimes I forget that the heavy mileage takes a heavy toll on my body.  As I increase the miles, my body becomes a veritable "sponge" - soaking up more and more energy and nutrition, and leaving me with energy and nutritional deficits.  These deficits can leave a runner in an emotional and physical lurch resulting in low moods and injuries that can plague both personal and professional life.  The key is to figure out how to fine tune one's sleep and nutrition to suit the stage of training the runner is in.

Wednesday was "hill play" day for me.  I had 200 meter hill sprints on deck, and I knew after the very first hill sprint that my iron levels were in need of a boost.  When I got home from a disasterous set of hill sprints, I immediately took a second dose of iron.  That night I had one of the most restless sleeps ever in recent months.  The extra iron gave me restless legs and a busy mind which barely let me sink into REM sleep for more than a few hours. 

The good news is: my 15 km run the next day was fabulous!!  I felt like I was flying and finished the run strong and happy.

The lesson I learned: yes, my single iron supplement may not always be doing it for me.  Getting iron in will definitely help runners get the lead out and pull off more powerful runs. Female runners especially need to be cognisent of how their feeling - fatigue could be more than just a lack of pillow time.  However, doubling your iron intake may not be a smart strategy.  Doubling my iron intake put me into an iron surplus that impacted my sleep.  I plan to purchase an iron supplement that's less potent than my usual iron supplement so that I can increase my iron in smaller increments - allowing me to achieve that "fine tuning" required for optimal performance.

No comments:

Post a Comment