Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bring on the Iron and Backing off Boston

  • This will be one of those bullet posts. 
  • I like bullets. They are easy to get thoughts out without much thought.  
  • Almost a week here of extended stay/hotel like living.  Oh, what it does to the numbers on the scale!  Good grief!  The place we are staying as we get our house ready for renters before flying to North Carolina is actually more like an apartment so we do have a full kitchen.  However, something about all our stuff being packed up and being out of routine means that I'm still not eating like usual.  So much eating take-out.  
  • After the Napa Marathon my coach strongly advised that I go get my iron levels looked at.  I had an unusual amount of fatigue right before the marathon.  My workouts during taper were just so off compared to what they should have been. Everything was harder for me.  But I just chalked it up to typical taper madness.  I wasn't going to really make getting my blood drawn a priority since I had so many other things to do but after a play date with my son where I could hardly keep my eyes open (just so drained!), I made the swing by the lab.  It was quick and easy.
  • I didn't hear back from the doctor about my results so I figured everything was normal.  Then I got my lab results back and saw that my ferritin level was 10.  This is pretty low from what I've heard from others.  But I also know that this is very common in distance runners.  
  • So, now it feels good to have an answer for why my body could be so tired and under performing compared to what it should be.  In some twisted way, it makes me feel better to know that something is off.  
  • So, now is all about bringing up the Iron levels.  I have people on one side telling me I should just take the iron supplements and also increase the amounts of iron rich foods.  Then I have others telling me that I should use Yellowdock root tincture to increase iron levels with the more herbal approach.  
  • Right now I'm just taking my iron supplement in the morning and night with some orange juice.  I try not to eat dairy or drink coffee closer to 2 hours from the time I take my iron.  These are just a couple of things that can get in the way of our bodies absorbing the iron.  
  • Running.  Slow going.  My left leg is still feeling way off.  Something just isn't right.  For a long time now actually.  The last 4 or 5 weeks of Napa training were like this too.  When I do run, it is usually a good mile or two before I warm up that leg and feel good.  But the good news is that it does warm up! 
  •  My sports chiropractor showed me some exercises I can do before my runs to activate my hip flexors and glutes.  Hopefully this, combined with rest, will help out.  
  • At this point, I've given up any intention of staying in prime marathon shape for Boston.  IF I do run Boston, it will only be if I can fit in enough runs to feel good running it for fun.  And if I think I can run it without breaking my body down further.  We will see how things go. No 7:30 marathon pace.  I'll be happy with some 8's.  
  • I've taken the last 3 days off running and will likely take a 4th today.  This seems to be what my body is asking of me.  Especially with the moving and to-dos right now.  
  • Boston.  I'm questioning what the heck I was thinking about Boston in the first place.  Moving to Asheville and then getting up and heading to Boston 2 weeks later sounds a little crazy at this point.  There is part of me that might not go at all.  But if that were the case, I'd lose a lot of money (but spend less too) and miss out on seeing some dear friends.  This will be a decision I make with much thought.  
  • I'm feeling excited about this new adventure ahead of us!  But I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a side of me that feels scared shitless too!  This is scary.  I know, I know, I know, it doesn't have to be scary.  It is all in the way we see it.  But whatever.  Having all of our lives packed up and just heading to the opposite side of the country (all in the name of fun!) and not knowing where we will live yet...thrilling indeed!  But also just a little scary.  I've never been a super laid back person so this is part of my nature.  ha!  The excitement part is way stronger though so....Bring IT LIFE!  What's next?!  
  • And bring on the IRON!  

Have you experienced low iron levels associated with heavy mileage?  
What are your tips for bringing up Ferritin levels the fastest?  



  1. I just had blood drawn and my Ferritin was a 6 and then my CBC had really low levels as well. I also had my Vitamin D checked and it was low too. My doctor put me on Slow FE twice a day and 5000 IU of D3. She's going to recheck my levels in 3 months. It's been about 2-3 weeks now of taking my pills regularly and I can honestly say I'm starting to feel a bit of a difference!

    1. Wow, that is low! Thanks for the info. I hope your levels are way up when she checks you again! So tricky. Glad you're feeling a difference already!

  2. My iron was at your level a year ago. I started taking a multi vitamin that included iron for 30 days in a row and my levels got back to normal. It made a HUGE difference with how I felt. Less tired and fatigued and my runs and activity improved significantly. Good luck!

  3. You DO have a lot going on for sure! Something tells me you'll make all the right decisions for you/your family/your current situation. I hope you find some relief with your "off leg" soon; I bet we all get your comment about a relief of knowing something was off (your iron). Good luck keeping it all together during your big move/adventure!!

  4. Hey you! Glad you are getting those iron levels back. I've never had issue, but I do take a multivitamin that gives me 100% iron. Plus I eat a bag a spinach a day, ha! My understanding is that once you start taking iron, you feel better quickly! I would follow your doctor's recommendations....too much iron can constipate you:) Hang in there with the move. You always look HOT, so no worries! I hope you decide to come to Boston. Selfishly, I want to see you:)

  5. I haven't had my iron levels checked probably ever, but I suspect I need to supplement: I have had chronic nosebleeds ever since I got thyroid disease and generally have one or two a week, plus when I am running any appreciable mileage (say, over 40 mpw) I start having GI bleeding routinely. I do eat a ton of leafy greens, but you've inspired me to add an iron supplement, too.
    I would love to see you run Boston and hear your recap and see pictures of one of my favorite cities BUT you better be all healed up first! Get well soon, leg! :)

  6. I love your bullet point lists. You never know what will be next! :-)

    First off- I'm so glad you had your iron levels checked. I have not had that issue (yet) that I know of but I think that's because I eat a little too much of everything. Seriously. Just looked at some pics John snapped of me finishing up today's 5k and I have got to work on toning my abs! Plus, not eating like a horse would probably help. anyway, sounds like you have done your homework and know how to get it under control.

    As far as Boston, I would LOVE to meet you but I totally understand your decision whatever you decide. With your move across the country and a nagging injury I understand it is not the ideal time for it. Would you be able to transfer your plane ticket? There year I cancelled out on Boston (with less than a week to go) I just used my flight 6 months later when we visited family in CA. Could you cancel your hotel and get a refund? I was in your position 2 years ago but much worse in the injury department. With my stress fracture I could NOT run and decided not to go since it would just depress me more.

    Good luck with the move! If it works out for you to go to Boston WE MUST to meet up!! :-) Hang in there!

  7. I hope your leg starts feeling better soon. It's good that you got your iron checked because its something pretty easy to get back under control. Good luck with your Boston decision making. Do what is best for YOU.

  8. Don't negate the effect that stress can have on your running too. You're in a pretty high stress time of your life right now with your big move and your body can't distinguish good vs bad stress. The cortisol your body secretes in response is the same either way. Just nurture yourself and look after those iron levels and make sure you're feeling good again before you start to push hard.

  9. I have had some low iron levels in the past whenever I increased my mileage or intensity. I'd talk to your doctor about what the right approach is. Recently, when I got back from the Chicago Marathon, I was super tired and thought it was low iron. Interestingly enough, my iron was super high and this can cause severe fatigue also. It's all so crazy. I'd talk to your doctor about the best approach to your levels, they are the ones that would know what is best for you.

    I can fully understand how stressful the whole Boston thing would be after a huge move with 3 little ones. Just take your time and see how the body responds and do what feels best.

    I hope your "off" leg heals up quickly. Get as much rest as you can (I know it's hard right now) but that's the best medicine when we have little niggles.

    Big hugs!!

  10. Don't feel too badly - I didn't go get tested until my ferritin was down to...TWO. Yes, two. The whole iron thing is pretty fascinating, because plenty of people will tell you that, as long as your hematocrit levels are OK, then low ferritin shouldn't affect your performance. [Since ferritin is supposedly just for "storage".] So, SO not true - in my case, and many others.

    I'm not big on taking drugs/medicine myself - but iron supplements helped me tremendously at first. The effect isn't immediate, so give yourself two weeks. But you'll be surprised what happens when your levels start to rise. You may feel more Boston-ready than you think. ;-) [I will forever call iron the "easiest speed I ever found"!]

    Nowadays, I try to incorporate iron in my diet (greens, cast iron skillet, etc.), and only take a supplement ~2x/week (maybe 3x during more intense training). I've been all set on the iron-front for years. Obviously, I'm not your doc, but I'd strongly suggest supplementing to build your stores back, then go ahead and maintain through whatever other method you prefer.

    [I know you aren't running now, and I don't know if you're having issues - but it's quite likely that, once you start again, the constipation side-effect will improve considerably. ;-)] [Hi. This is blog-land. I hardly know you, but will TOTALLY give you suggestions about your digestive system....]

  11. Hey there Runninghood. Most of this I already know but making an appearance here in blogland!

    I know how difficult it is to eat normally on the road. Last year when life wasn't quite as crazy, I was SO organized with our hockey travel. I packed so much of our food and we were much more organized with grocery shopping instead of take-out on the road. This year it completely went to pot and I'm feeling the affects both with me and my kids. You will be in routine soon but I get this!

    Really glad you got your iron checked and you're in the process of getting it back where it should be! I really remember you feeling unusually fatigued during taper.... Thinking of you often with that leg...As far as Boston, the decision on whether to run or not is tough! As far as traveling there I completely understand the financial thoughts associated with not even running the race. It's affordable perhaps but it becomes whether or not you WANT to spend the money in that way at such a transitional time. You know my feelings of course and I would be quite sad not to have you there:( Really a highlight of my trip to spend some time with you. Something I would have to deal with of course but putting it out there that I very much WANT you there....I understand regardless as I cancelled my trip last year.

    So anyway, hoping your leg cooperates on that run today and that you have a great flight out to your new adventure! So excited for you! Love you.

  12. I can tell you my numbers later if you would like to know but I have gotten 2 infusions of ferriheme to increase my ferritin. For me and lots of people supplements do not work fast enough. I live near Asheville...about 2 hrs away. Let me know if you would like for info! Good luck

  13. I wish I had a hose long enough to send you some of our well water! It's got so much iron in it our bathtub turns orange..and I am drinking it. :) Never have had any issues with iron levels thanks to that. I am just so glad you listened to your coach and had the blood test done. Seems like a fairly easy fix. I hope?.
    Living in an apartment/hotel for weeks on end would make me batty and I would be at the park and indoor play places ALL day long with the kiddos.
    Sorry the decision about Boston is so tough. I know you will give this some good thought. Praying all settles down for you guys once you are in NC.

  14. I have to be honest, when I saw your post title, I thought you were going to race an Ironman!! Instantly woke me up (sleepy sitting at my desk, not working so far, scrolling, glazing words, looking and wondering what race you picked!!

    Spinach is high in iron

    Enjoy your new adventure!!

  15. Amanda! You've got a lot on your plate, but you can do it. Just make sure to take care of yourself and get healthy. Thanks for the info on the iron. I am going to start taking my multi-vitamin today! I haven't taken my vitamins for about a year and I think that may be why I am so darn tired and pooped out.

  16. Probably a smart move changing your Boston goals. Moving is stressful and racing is stressful. Doing both is asking for trouble. Hope you can run it for fun though. Meet up with your friends, find someone to pace for, high five the spectators and just smile you are running Boston.

    Good luck with the move!

  17. I'm so glad you found that out about your iron, and have some explanation, as well as some easy ways to improve it. Thinking of you in the craziness of the move! I don't do well with the unexpected either, but am learning to get better at rolling with it... things will all settle down eventually!

  18. Interesting you wrote about Iron because I just had an Iron IV infusion on Friday because my iron level was a 2. The IV has helped a lot - not sure if that is helpful, but this is really new to me too. Good Luck, and I hope you keep writing about the iron "issue".


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