20 Miles & Blood Test Results

March 14th, 2012 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts

Well, I survived my solo 20 miler in Montclair on Saturday. I felt relatively good and kept a decent pace despite hillier terrain miles 9.5-15. I started out around 8:00 pace and dropped it down to 7:20-7:25 pace for the last 6 miles.

Here's what 20 miles in the 'burbs looks like- lots of little loops combined.

I felt a mixture of awe and nonchalance staring at the ‘20.00‘ on my Garmin once I stopped. “Whoa, I ran for 2 hours and 35 minutes totally self-motivated! And really didn’t want to die or stop at any point!” coupled with “Whatever, 20 miles, just another long run, done this by myself before.” I’m happy I’m getting to the level of fitness where 20 miles feels like no big thing. But at the same time I always seem to surprise myself a bit. Know what I mean?

Lucky for me, I suppose I front loaded my mileage a bit and ended up hitting 60 miles in 5 days of running. This was fantastic news when I woke up Sunday with a huge hangover from going out on Saturday night and couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my bed. So I didn’t. Nice non-planning, Lindsay.

As always, you can check out my training log doc here.


Okay. I have put off posting about this because it is one of my absolute least favorite topics but I’m pretty intrigued by the results so figured I’d share.

So, I have an extreme aversion to blood, needles, veins and the like and thus absolutely hate getting blood drawn. I have Valium prescribed so I don’t hyperventilate and pass out, and apply a topical anesthetic cream to numb the skin, but I still hyperventilate and cry and act like a 5 year old.

Nevertheless, after being anemic my junior year of college (with the way-too-low ferritin level of 8), I’ve tried to face my fears and get a comprehensive blood panel yearly or every other year to check iron levels & indicators and just make sure everything is running properly. I’d strongly advocate all runners do this even if you’re feeling good, to have a baseline to compare when you start to feel bad. I would also strongly recommend getting a doctor who will sit down and go through your results in depth with you. I have a great one here in NYC if you need a referral!

As runners, I feel like we’re pretty in-tune with our bodies but it’s hard to listen sometimes. Well of course I’m tired and lacking energy; I’m running 60+ miles a week, working a full time job, traveling, and squeezing in sleep and fun somewhere between it all. Is this just the way you should feel, or is something really wrong? My last test was in early March 2011 as I trained for the NYC half and started feeling pretty awful. My results came back just fine and a few days later, I had a kickass workout and a few weeks later, ran a new PR of 1:24 in the half. Shows how much I know.

This year my ferritin was 22 (down from 34 last year), my hemoglobin was 12.8 (down from 13.3), hematocrit at 39 (consistent with 40.1), and red blood cells were 4.16 (down from 4.3).

All of these levels were within the low end of the normal range, but I don’t need a medical degree to think that ‘normal’ differs for marathoner vs. sedentary individual. They should make ‘athlete’ ranges :)

My levels tend to skew a bit on the low side compared to other runners, and though training is going pretty darn well I’m probably going to be a bit more consistent about supplementing with liquid iron (taken with Vitamin C to aid absorption). Can’t hurt, ya know?

Ever surprise yourself with getting through a run you thought was going to be awful? Ever experience low iron or symptoms of anemia? 


You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 You can leave a response, or trackback.

12 Responses

  • Celia says:

    I have been a vegetarian my whole life and an athlete (does figure skating drain iron?) so I was sort of used to my levels of iron I guess. I had had my levels tested when I graduated from college and the doctor wrote slightly anemic but I never though much about it. When I had mine tested again a year ago my ferritin was was also an 8 which was just slightly lower than I had been in college. As I said if you don’t know any different, you just think that’s how things are. Well even just raising my levels a little made a huge difference. I fairly recently started taking a different supplement that I think is working better for me. Well I am running better than ever. So if it’s not that, it is something and I will still take it. I would be curious to know what my levels are now though….

  • Kelly says:

    nice running, lady!

    I’m glad you’re so good about getting your blood drawn – I wish I could give you some of my ambivalence to needles! You are being completely smart about being careful and upping the supplements and/or iron rich foods. You may still be within the norm but if it’s trending a little lower than last year you could have caught it before it got down too low. I’ve never been anemic but do take a multi with iron because I’ve been a little concerned about it. I’ve definitely felt better since I started taking it, but who knows! Glad your running’s been going so well :)

  • Rachel says:

    Interesting that your Dr. told you your ferritin level of 8 was anemic. I just had bloodwork done too, and as a vegetarian endurance athlete, I knew my iron would be low. I pulled a 6. But was never told I was anemic. I think he just didn’t want to freak me out with the A-Word.

    I agree with Celia above: training at a slightly anemic state for years can start to feel ‘normal’ to athletes. Not that it’s an excuse to let anemia persist! I know raising my iron is going to help my training tremendously though–if only I could stomach the dang supplements.

  • I find I have a hard time with the first few miles of a longer run, but then I just get into it. I am sure this will change once I start actually training for Chicago.

    I’ve never had blood work like that done before, may not be a bad idea.

  • Meggie says:

    I wish 20 miles took me two and a half hours…

    I think we had to get a cbc coming into med school, but I don’t think I got iron studies to go along with it.

    I should probably do that.

    Pretty sure I was anemic during my medicine rotation because all I craved was ice.

  • I love going home and running my old routes…they’re so familiar and I always remember them no matter how long it has been, even crossing the street in the same spots!

    I just got all my lab work done…and I looked at the needle in my arm for most of the time. Let me know next time you need blood drawn and I’ll do it for you! Calming presence, etc etc…

    Back in high school I was crazy anemic and they almost gave me a blood transfusion but put me on high doses of iron instead. It worked and then I ran really fast…

  • AR says:

    Last time I had my iron checked (umm…2006? Maybe I should eventually find a doctor again.) I had really similar results and that was after a few months of treatment. (!!!) I remember the weird thing was I was getting blood drawn monthly without much significant change so I asked for the absorption test and found out apparently my rate is freakishly low. So I’ve enjoyed those liquid iron cocktails too since I’ve gotten to the point where I have a good sense of when they’re on the “low” end of…whatever. Like you said, it’s really hard to figure out what normal actually means.

  • Congrats on a great run! I am due for blood work – I just switched my PCP – though still not 100% she is the one for me. I would love a doc recommendation! I have been putting off getting my blood-work, but maybe you have inspired me to set up my appointment. I’d like to know all my levels.

    Again – awesome 20 miler!!

  • mmm, liquid iron. oh so delicious. and sometimes it makes me nauseous, hooray. haha, i guess it’s a necessary evil though.

    NICE LONG RUN! i’ve got 22 on tap for saturday and i’m scurred.

    also happy birthday week!! <3

  • Have you ever googled about running and low iron? I also get anemic when I’m training for races. I have a WONDERFUL Dr. who is always on top of stuff but even she hadn’t heard of the connection. I guess when your foot is pounding all that time it breaks down the red blood cells or something like that (sooo not a science person) and then some of the other sweat-type factors can impact it, too. Again – I’m not in medicine or anything, but you might find some of the google results interesting. Good luck – not that it sounds like it’s slowing you down any, speed demon!

  • Pingback: What’s Up Wednesday Post-Nuun « The Thinks I Can Think

  • Ian Borgers says:

    Venipuncture is useful as it is a relatively non-invasive way to obtain cells and extracellular fluid (plasma) from the body for analysis. Since blood flows throughout the body, acting as a medium for providing oxygen and nutrients, and drawing waste products back to the excretory systems for disposal, the state of the bloodstream affects, or is affected by, many medical conditions. For these reasons, blood tests are the most commonly performed medical tests.-”*’

    Have a good week

Leave a Reply