Monday, November 7, 2011

Down on iron .......

Well it's taken a little while to hear back from the blood bank.  I finally have confirmation that my low haemoglobin level (109 g/L - normal 120-165 g/L) was due to a low iron (ferritin) level (7.8 ug/L - normal 15-200ug/L). This is a good thing, since I have been self treating with iron! Still the question remains as to why I became iron deficient in the first place? I donated blood just the once 3 months ago and have been on a healthy diet that contains adequate red meat. With my perimenopause/menopause I haven't been losing any iron 'that' way. So it is a bit of a mystery. Some may say that my fatigue could have been caused by this. The problem is that at the onset of my fatigue all my blood work was within normal limits. I will also add, that I don't get a racing heart with exertion which is what you would expect when suffering from anaemia. The heart works harder to get oxygen to the working muscles (trust me I'm well trained in physiology!) in anaemic patients.  Now I am a huge fan of 'Vitamin I', i.e. ibuprofen. It is good at alleviating some fatigue symptoms. However, NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen) can affect iron absorption. They can also cause blood loss via the gut. Maybe a factor? Since I was rejected by the blood bank, I have been taking iron with Vitamin C (well actually OJ and a berocca) and have reduced my intake of NSAIDS. I imagine that my ferritin is on the rise as well as my haemoglobin. It can take a few months to restore things back to normal.  I've been on supplemental iron since October 12th. Hmm so does this mean that given another month or 2 I'll get a bit speedier due to better oxygen supply to those working muscles? That would be nice! It will be worth getting a follow up blood test in another month or so to look at progress.

Since I am currently blogging, an update on training.
Saturday - did a series of 8 x 100m hill reps and felt pretty good.
Sunday - felt the need to try and run long. Survived a 10K trail run, slow but NO fatigue!
Monday - 8 x 400m reps. These were supposed to be 6 @ current 1500m pace and then 2 @ goal pace. As it turned out they were a bit all over the place. 98, 94, 94, 98, 95, 99, 96, 95. However, it was nice to be able to back up after the 10K on Sunday. Here's hoping things keep moving in the right direction. It is nice to know the low Hb was due to lack of iron. Something that can be easily supplemented :o).


  1. Great to know that you are runnng comfortably again and that you may have pinpointed the problem. Fingers crossed that you will continue feeling good:)

  2. Thanks Ruthy :o). It's just one piece of the puzzle, but each solved piece is bound to help.

  3. That's interesting. Yes, get off the anti-inflams if you can. What do you use them for? Injury?

    I think for athletes it can be hard to get the haemoglobin back to normal (from a low level) while continuing to train. Although you really want more than 'normal' - there's always the needle in the backside route. I recall Nate Jenkins having steak pretty much every day + supplements (but he was running 100+ miles a week). How did it happen? I've read you can go anemic by damage to blood cells of the feet when running (pounding), so run on soft surfaces as much as you can.

    By the way, Steve A said he can't comment on your blog, so perhaps something odd with your settings is preventing that?

  4. I don't think I've been running enough to induce blood loss via pounding! I take the anti-inflams as they alleviate some of the fatigue symptoms. I have since the blood bank rejection reduced their intake substantially, so we will see.

    I've just changed the settings so that anyone can post as I really have no idea why Steve A can't. Will have to see if it now makes a difference.

  5. Yes. But for how long has the iron been low? Maybe it goes back to when you were running a lot?

  6. Iron was okay 3 months ago and I haven't been doing much miles in that time! In fact I haven't run a lot since before the calf injury.