Unfortunately the title of this post doesn’t refer to my massive guns (hah), but rather to a familiar nuisance called…anemia. I’ve dealt with this in the past and am pretty attuned to the symptoms by now. A few weeks ago I noticed that I was feeling more fatigued than usual and wasn’t recovering from workouts as quickly as expected. I was also sleeping a ton (think: 9-10 hours a night) and experiencing what I call “race-y heart”. I like to think that I’m in decent shape, so when my heart starts beating fast after climbing a flight of subway steps…I know something is amiss. I recently had a complete blood count (CBC) at my doctor’s office and the results were as I expected – iron serum and ferritin levels were both low. Note: I am by no means an expert on diagnosing or managing anemia, I only have my own experiences to draw on, but since it’s fairly common I thought I’d share what works for me (and what doesn’t). Kelly (an R.D. in training!) just wrote a great post about iron rich foods – you should check it out. If you follow her advice, you may be able to avoid iron supplements in the first place!
- *Iron supplements can upset your stomach. I never ever take them before a run – personally, I think before bed is best.
- *You may have stomach issues (ranging from nausea to diarrhea to constipation) – fun times! Sometimes taking the pill with a some crackers or bread helps.
- *Milk, caffeine, antacids, and calcium supplements can decrease iron absorption and should not be taken at the same time as iron supplements. However, vitamin C increases absorption – I used to mix my liquid ferrous sulfate with orange juice, lots of ice, and a bendy straw. It made it almost palatable. Almost.
Obviously supplements are not ideal for the long term, but for now I’m going to have to deal with it. I’ve been supplementing for about a week and feeling a teensy bit better.
- 2 mile warm-up (stomach wasn’t feelin’ so great on this one…oh heyyyy iron pills)
- 1000m @ 3k race pace – I ran this in 3:48 (~6:07 mile pace)
- 200m slow jog recovery
- 3 x 400m @ mile race pace – 82, 80, 79 (~5:20 mile pace)
- 200m slow jog recovery after each repeat
- 1020m @ 3k race pace – 3:51 (~6:04 mile pace) *I started in the wrong spot, so this repeat was about 20m too long.
- 2.25 mile cool-down (SO WINDY AND COLD, GAH)
- Total: 6.75 miles
This was a tough workout, but I’m pretty pleased. I felt strong the whole time and it was nice to see a sub-80 400m. I haven’t run that fast since college! After months of marathon training (slow long runs, tempos) it’s been kind of a shock to the system to run this fast. However, I think ultimately it will do the body good. I have a bunch of races coming up (Coogan’s 5k on March 6, NYC 1/2 on March 20, Cherry Blossom 10 miler on April 3, and the Brooklyn 1/2 on May 21) and I have my sights set on some PR’s. Here’s hoping I get this iron level situation sorted out ASAP! In addition to the supplements, I’m going to try and get lots of sleep (I’m currently averaging 7-9 hours/night) and add in some red meat (like burgers!!).