I am back to full training and it feels so good and so tiring at the same time. I am running 3 workouts a week, with one of those workouts included in my long run, while keeping my milage relatively low at around 70 miles per week. I am finding that the half/marathon pace workouts are starting to come back, but my speed still needs a lot of work. I know it will come so I am just plugging away and enjoying the process. Apart from a bout with the stomach flu and a tough emotional week I have managed to keep my training pretty consistent. I am working on ensuring my easy days truly are easy days and that I am taking the time to recover between sessions. Lot of rolling, attempts at good sleep and proper nutrition are the focus.
Speaking of nutrition, in early February I had a slew of blood taken by the lovely people at Inside Tracker (www.insidetracker.com). My intention was to see how well my nutrition is holding up while starting back to training, A baseline of my blood values so to speak. I am hoping that learning more about my blood levels will help me to have less colds/flus and also help me to stay healthy physically and recover well from training. I will be interested to see how increases in training, moreover racing impacts these values with future testing.
I was happy to learn that in general my current nutrition and supplement use has me on track with optimal levels in most of my blood levels. I have been concerned with ferritin levels in the past but my ferritin levels were optimal with this testing. I had never previously had my Vitamin D levels tested, and living in the PNW I was concerned about these, again these were optimal indicating my daily Vitamin D and Iron supplements are working.
Also of interest to me were areas where I can improve to bring myself to optimum levels. I plan to use food as my primary intervention. The fantastic thing with Inside Tracker is they provide you with food suggestions to help increase levels that aren’t optimal. Another great thing with Inside Tracker is they also answered any questions I had when I didn’t understand certain levels.
For instance my TIBC was low. I wasn’t sure what this meant, but after consultation with the dieticians at Inside Tracker it turns out this isn’t of concern as my Ferritin is optimal. Here is what they let me know
“ferritin is the most important metric for iron metabolism. Since that is optimal, no need to tweak anything related to iron intake. TIBC is a function of iron and TS. Since these measures can change on a daily basis they are less important for overall iron function. Ferritin takes much longer to change. TIBC is in relation to serum iron in the blood, not the stored iron, ferritin. It does not mean that the body cannot use the ferritin stores, but rather has to do with iron before it is stored. But again, since ferritin is optimal, it is not a concern.”
I was also low in DHEAS and here is what they said regarding this:
“DHEAS does decrease with age. The optimal zones are adjusted for age so your result is in relation to where a women your age should expect. Yes, it can be low due to stress. It is not necessarily related to colds; however, stress and high cortisol negatively impact the immune system. WBC may be in the optimal range, but they fluctuate frequently. Cortisol suppresses the immune system which makes you more susceptible to illness. “
This to me means I need to be really focused on recovery both with nutrition and rest to keep my stress levels lower. I also need to be diligent in using yoga or meditation or both to keep my cortisol levels down. I have quite a few outside stressors and I need to manage these as best as I can to optimize my health. My low DHEAS also can be a reason for my feeling of fatigue often through training. Some of the foods that I will increase in my diet to help my DHEAS levels include fish, avocados and dark chocolate, all foods I enjoy!
Anthers area I need to improve is my LDL. Again increasing fish intake will help with this as well adding spirulina to my smoothies and increasing my oat and barley intake.
I am hopeful that by tweaking my diet, improving my sleep, and adding meditation and yoga daily, I will be able to continue to train at a high level and to recover efficiently. My coach Richard Lee and I have decided that going in to the spring racing season I will be focusing on short races. My longest race will be Bloomsday in May, and that is a 12k. I am starting my racing season with a rust buster this coming Saturday at the West Van Run 5k. I am truly excited to get out there and try and run fast, while getting a sense of where my fitness is at. I am also going to be racing way outside my comfort zone and running a couple of track races this spring. I will return to the longer races in the fall.
I am really excited to get the race season underway and to see how little changes in my lifestyle impact my racing and training. A huge thank you to my family, coach Richard Lee, BCEP team mates, Oiselle, Forerunners, New Balance Canada, Nuun, RunGo, Addaday and Zensah for their continued support. It takes a community!