After muscling through a few really rough weeks of running I finally admitted to myself that something had to be wrong. I’ve dealt with anemia in the past, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a female long-distance runner that hasn’t, so I assumed that my irons levels were a little low and wanted to get them checked out. I made an appointment to get blood work done and two weeks ago I headed off to the dreaded blood draw. As always, the nurse took one look at my vein and selected the butterfly needle (you know, the one that they use on small children). Five minutes later I was on my way, glad that in a few days I would have some answers and would be able to pinpoint the cause of my constant lead-legs! I swear to you, every single run recently has felt like I was 21 miles in a marathon – see example in photo below. Not a happy camper!
When I got the results later that week I flipped through the report with tunnel vision for the one number that mattered. When I saw it my jaw dropped, my ferritin levels were at an 11! ELEVEN!! That is the lowest that it has ever been in my life. Even when I was struggling with race performance in 2010 my ferritin was at least a 14. Since my levels were so low my muscles weren’t getting the oxygen they needed during or after workouts, so every run was a struggle and recovery just wasn’t happening! I needed to take some action quickly if I didn’t want my training to be completely de-railed.
I have a second round of blood tests coming up in a month and I am determined to at least double my ferritin levels by then. My plan is to rest completely until I am feeling somewhat normal, resume training slowly, and eat a diet as rich in iron as possible! I guess my November is going to be filled with liquid iron, lots of steak, and maybe even some liver… if I get desperate!
Have you ever dealt with anemia?
What are some tricks that you have used to increase your ferritin quickly?