Thursday, September 9, 2010

Iron Girl

I have mentioned in this week's Weekly Workouts post that I think I am low on iron.

They say you should never self-diagnose these things, but since I've experienced this before, I know that it's like and don't wish to pay $40 for the doctor to prick my arm crook and tell me the same thing.

How did I come upon this conclusion?
- decreased endurance in spite of consistent training
- easily fatigued
- easily dizzied (e.g., in salsa class)
- occasional wheezing while running, which never used to happen
- most recently, chest pains (on the non-heart side, mind you!) toward the end of a long run that went away once I slowed down
- constant weak-bone feeling, especially in the upper body
- abnormal female functioning

The fact that I've taken this long to notice is bad, especially since I have some races coming up. I think I started having some of these issues as early as 6 months ago, though it's only been really bad over the past month or so.

Here are what I believe are the main culprits:
- not being good at remembering to take my multivitamin (I think this is what did me in)
- not really eating cereal anymore
- developing a taste for tea/decaf coffee over the past month or so
** Contrary to what people may say, not eating meat is NOT a good excuse. I had these kinds of issues when I did eat it. I think I'm just susceptible to this naturally, as you can read HERE.

This decreased endurance is setting me up for bad races, even though I have been training so hard. =(

In attempt to get myself back to strength as quickly as possible, here is the plan of attack:

- 2 Days Ago: started snacking on iron-fortified cereal (Life -- see full cereal list HERE)

- 1 Day Ago: ate Total for breakfast with soy milk; had more than one serving (oops!), and my entire system cleaned out o_O

- .5 Day Ago: gave up coffee and tea (except cranberry apple, which is OK), since they inhibit iron absorption

- Today: picking up iron pills at lunch; I once had to take 325% (65 mg) of the daily value everyday for 6 months to get my stores back to "normal"... not too sure if I want that much, but I'm going for about 45 mg and one that's easy on the stomach

This is probably the quickest way to start feeling better before my Fall races. Otherwise, my hard work would have been for naught, because as Todd Flanders said, "Iron helps us play!" ("Lisa needs braces...")


  1. Anemia is common amongst women in general. Even if you just suspect yourself to be low in iron, it's never a bad thing to step up consumption of spinach, broccoli, almonds, and iron-enriched breads and cereals. In my opinions, iron supplements are kind of a last resort since a major side effect of those is constipation. But, if you chose a supplement, I'd recommend Slow Fe -- it's more gentle than other iron supplements.

  2. You might also think of racheting down the intensity of your workouts a bit. A lot of what you are describing are symptoms of overtraining. And you don't need to be running a thousand miles a week to be overtraining - just furher and longer than your mind/body can handle.