Friday, May 25, 2012

Feeling Fatigued?

Yesterday I mentioned that I’ve been feeling a little down in the dumps and extremely tired (more than my normal). I was pretty blue about things. I was trying to focus on positives by removing negatives. I also mentioned that I had blood tests taken because I had a feeling that I was anemic (as I was previously diagnosed more than 10 years ago). I just wanted to make sure there were not any other problems and wanted to get the official doctor advice before I just start taking some over-the-counter supplements.

I finally got a hold of the doctor’s office (because apparently it’s too much to ask them to contact you back with the results) and found out that I’m anemic (shocker) and that I have a vitamin D deficiency. I think these are two very common deficiencies to have. And they said everything else was normal, which I’m extremely thankful for. I’m a pretty healthy person normally and these two issues are definitely treatable. I was prescribed to take iron supplements (325 mg) 3 times a day (which apparently is a lot and so my iron levels must be really low) and vitamin D supplements 1 time a day (2000 units).

Now, I’m not a doctor. Far from it. So take anything I say with a grain of salt. It’s things I’ve read or heard. The things I already know about anemia and vitamin D deficiency? Fatigue is associated with both. I also know that lack of Vitamin D can result is some depression (ever heard of seasonal depression due to lack of Vitamin D from the sun in the winter months?). But that was really all I knew. What I tend to do when diagnosed with something is research it on the Internet to death (not always a good thing…especially if you are researching a surgery you are about to have)! Here is a little of what I found out regarding anemia.

What I did not know is that iron deficiency is a common problem for women athletes. So with high intensity training (marathon training), there is an increased demand for iron. Combine this with the fact that I’ve already had iron deficiencies in the past, I guess I’m a prime candidate for anemia. Also symptoms that pertain to me and anemia have been fatigue, irritability, shortness of breath, brittle nails, headache, and frequent injuries. Um…wow!! If I knew then what I know now! Lol.

First of all, I’ve been really tired. I’ve definitely been irritable (I know some people can vouch for that…and I’m sorry!).

Shortness of breath – so apparently when you are anemic, you have trouble getting enough oxygen to your lungs (or something with oxygen and lungs…like I said, I’m not a doctor). You will find yourself gasping for breath while running. One of the articles was written about an Olympic runner and she said the following, “If you’re thinking, ‘Normally I’m able to keep this kind of pace or run this distance and feel this way, and now I’m not able to do that,’ then you might have iron issues”. And when I read that, it was exactly what I have been thinking for the past 6 months! My pace is about a minute slower per mile than it was 1.5-2 years ago. And I just didn’t understand why I was gasping for breath while running, even at a slower pace!

Brittle nails – yes. Headaches – yes.

Frequent injuries. Um…hello??? Granted there are other reasons I may have had so many injuries during my last marathon training season. They were back to back to back almost the whole training season. Not properly stretching. Not properly hydrating. Most definitely! But apparently anemia is also a factor in frequent injuries!

Ok. I know all of this now. I can try to rectify the situation. I have lots of time before the 2012 Chicago Marathon. Training for that starts close to mid-June.

I think it’s kind of funny. My dad is always joking with me that I’m addicted to running, or that I only do things if it’s related to running. As much as that’s not necessarily true, it does give me a push to do something. For example, I’ve needed a new car for a couple of years, but I’m still hanging on to the same old thing. But when I wanted to go to Rockford to help my friend with her marathon this past weekend, I almost went out and bought a new car to do it! When I find out being anemic will make running harder and hinders performance, I’ll take my iron supplements! Look whatever it takes! And I enjoy running. It’s one of the few things that give me some joy right now. So anything I can do to not take running away…I’m all for it!

Anyway, all in all, I'm thankful that I'm a pretty healthy person.  Just need a few tweaks and I'll be in top notch performance mode (for me anyway)!  Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.  I actually have a little 10 mile run in the morning which means having to get up at about 4:20 am!  I feel a midday nap coming on tomorrow.

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