He Blinded me with Science

I assembled a wine rack in my poor man's wine closet under my stairs one year and had to take it apart a number of times and reassemble because to my naked eye and then tape measure, the 6' rack was just a tad off. Call it perfectionist, "type A," OCD, or whatever your label, but it just didn't look right and I was determined to get it right. I've taken a similar approach to my marathon training as I have dissected, analyzed, critiqued, and turned to science to understand why I've hit a plateau which has turned into a mini-slump. Just like many of my local Colorado Rockies baseball players who have hit an early season slump and are trying to rediscover their swing, I'm trying to re-capture my run mojo. Like baseball's Nuke LaLoosh in "Bull Durham," I have even considered wearing a thong under my running shorts to re-capture the "genie in the bottle." I know, "TMI."

There are the obvious issues I've covered here on my blog; mainly you can "run" five marathons in a year in a half, but few of us can "race" that many in that time. I have been hooked up to the Gatorade VO2Max machine and trained for a year with a heart-rate based training plan which helped drop my heart rate at higher speeds. While my heart rate has improved, I still felt a need to get to the bottom of my fatigue. At Boston this year, I wasn't overcome with testosterone in the first few miles by flying out of the gate. In fact, I knew that in the first few miles, I had no fuel in the tank. Who slipped the Drano in my mojo (and why was my wine rack still crooked?)

Just as I jumped into running science after last year's 2010 Boston Marathon, I once again drove up the road after this year's Boston to running mecca in Boulder, CO to seek divine guidance. "Oh Swami, why does my spring have no spring and it feels like someone stole my spark plug." I sought the answer with a naturopathic Dr. in Boulder who I was referred to my one of my running lexicons. He heard my symptoms and ordered my second athletic blood work in the last 60 days to get to the root of the issues.

Once again, iron deficiency showed up as the one that jumped off the page on my results. Uncommon in males (is that why I've felt compelled to watch "Real Housewives of Orange County " and rearrange the furniture?,) my iron level (specifically my Ferritin level) was 67. Men range from 20 to 380. My "Nature Doc" who specializes in athletes said that out of 500 men he'd see in a year, he might see two with iron levels as low as mine. Not the kind of lottery you want to win. Clinical diagnosis; sports anemia. That doesn't sound good. That once again explains the fatigue I've felt in my recent races, but more importantly in my training.

Consulting my Doc and other running coaches, I stuck to my plan of NOT running for one full month. The last time I never ran for a full month was the month before I started running in 1999. My eleven year streak was over, but I was ready to try anything (did I mention the thong?)

If you're still reading this (thank you) and you're probably saying, "when is he getting to the good news?" Boulder Dr. has a plan to get me back to healthy iron levels in a short period of time. It may sound a bit radical, but I hooked up to an IV bag of Iron to get me on the fast track to boost my iron back to normal male levels. No, I'm not "doping," I'm not on the "juice," but pill format can take up to a year to get me back to where I need to be. in parallel, I've re-dedicated myself to diet balance (re-reading Matt Fitzgerald's "Racing Weight") to also balance my body.

The other good news, is that my running chastity belt came off on Monday and I've logged 14 miles in three days. Too early to tell, but mentally I feel great and have my next goal in site (but not ready to announce to the world wide web.) Needless to say, I feel I am still learning this sport and have much improvement to make. I am Iron Man!

Have you suffered with sports anemia? How are you dealing with it?


  1. This was a well written read my friend! I especially like the puzzled piece image. Back in my youth I use to be a vegetarian an unhealthy one at that. I kept passing out during dance recitals and crap of the sort. I discovered I was low iron - so it was back to eating meat for me! I now have this crazy idea that if I don't eat meat 5 days prior to a race that I will be lighter and faster. Hey we all have our superstitions right?(And here is where I thank you for my next blog post idea - TU)!! Anyway, I do eat fish and take iron pills to make up for it. I also have abnormally low blood pressure. So I have to watch that as well. Your not alone - Apologies for my novel of a comment! ;)

  2. Thanks for the comments Alisyn and the depth of the comments. It's ironic you mention that because before my Portland Marathon, I had a "target weight" and was not eating enough nor balanced diet to I showed up low on iron and energy. Let me know when you post something on this topic.


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