Thursday, July 7, 2011

Endurance Training Induced Anemia

 What's with the blog title?
Sounds crazy right? 
I thought so too.

Apparently, endurance athletes (mostly women) can suffer from anemia during training. So says the doctor, so says numerous websites I've researched. According to an article on, "The symptoms of iron deficiency include loss of endurance, chronic fatigue, high exercise heart rate, low power, frequent injury, recurring illness, and loss of interest in exercise and irritability. Other symptoms include poor appetite, and increased incidence and duration of colds and infections." So far, I've been suffering from loss of endurance, chronic fatigue and loss of interest in exercise. Seriously, I've run like twice in the past two weeks.The other day I slept for about 8 hours through the night, woke up and went to work. In between girl scout programs I napped for 45 minutes in my car (I had 2 hours to kill). I ran my last program and then went home and slept for another hour and a half. When I woke up (again) I was still exhausted.

Normally, I would say this could have been me burning the candle at both ends, having too much on my plate, etc etc. But it's not. I'm actually rather comfy in my schedule, as far as work goes. This wasn't an isolated incident though, it has been going on, daily, for about 2 weeks. And my loss of interest in running is the part that was worrying me the most. So, I went to the doctor. I explained my situation and how this crazy fatigue is interfering with my half marathon training. He said, the half marathon training could be what was causing my fatigue. He basically explained that a large portion of women endurance athletes develop anemia because of their increased altheticism, hard training stimulates an increase in red blood cell and blood vessel production, and increases the demand for iron, and the changes (if any) in their diet.

Needless to say, he put me on iron pills to help take care of the anemia. He said to monitor my diet more closely and make sure I'm sticking to healthy choices, especially ones with higher iron levels in them (fish, lean red meat, etc). I also have to keep a close eye on my fiber levels because iron can wreak havoc on one's digestive system. Oh the fun times I have to look forward too! On the up side, I've been taking the iron pills for 3 days now and I can honestly say that today is the first day I have woken up and not felt completely exhausted. Granted, it's still early in the day, but I have high hopes. I think the iron pills are going to help though.

So, my question to you is, has anyone else ever had anemia because of their training?


Kurt @ Becoming An Ironman said...

I've never had it that I know of, but then again I've pushed through a lot of different things over the last year.

Best of luck getting the motivation and energy back!

Wells L said...

I'm glad you had the courage to get it checked out by the doctor. Glad the iron supplements are helping. Hang in there - hope you continue to feel better!

Fruit Fly said...

Wow - this is REALLY interesting! I've been tested twice now since I started to see if I am anemic. Perhaps there is something to this!

KT80 (Running Like a Girl) said...

I've never been told I have anemia, but my sister has always had low iron counts. I think I would benefit from iron. I think I would benefit from an overall, more balanced diet.