Who doesn’t like to indulge after a hard race?? Yeah everyone does. I mean you have accomplished something great just by completing the training and taking that first step onto the starting line, you deserve it. Here were some of my feelings about maybe indulging for a little TOO long after a race. And the numbers were there to back me up as well, mind you this was when I was still a full-time Elite.
I think most of you know by now, that I like to indulge post race.
Go completely off the rails, eating whatever the heck I want, and feeling no guilt for it.
Now we have hidden the scale, I don’t have that pressure to see it anymore, and I try to avoid looking at my “trouble spots” in the mirror, so even the weight aspect is kind of out of sight out of mind thing, which is nice.
So enjoy I did, and I would say eating fueling foods was not a priority, although I really did miss all the vegetables while we were traveling, and as much as I tried to get good quality meals in, as we know, it is more difficult, especially during the holidays.
I knew I was due another blood test to see where my numbers were at, and as I have mentioned before, I like to start off my season knowing where my internal biomarkers are at, that way I know what foods I need to focus on, and if the supplements I have been taking are actually helping.
I didn’t want to do it immediately after any races, as I knew those numbers would be completely skewed from the hard effort, and also they would not be accurate of what my body looked like going into the segment, as I had a month of indulging to come 😉
I also waited a week after we got back from our trips to eat a normal diet, so it was not skewed too far the other way, an my body had a week to calm down after all the sugar 🙂
Last week I did get my blood work, through the awesome Inside Tracker, and I have to admit, I was excited all week for the results to come in, and curious as to what foods they would suggest to improve the biomarkers that needed work.
Now, I knew in my heart that the results probably wouldn’t be as good as last time, but I kind of saw that as a good thing, it would be a way for me to see just how much the junk affected my body, how much not taking my supplements made a difference.
Before someone asks me what those are, this is what I take everyday during my season:
- BodyHealth Complete+Detox Multivitamin (TINA10 = 10% off at Bodyhealth.com)
- Nature’s BlendFerrous Gluconate
- Prescript-Assist Probiotic
- EnduroPacks L-Glutamine (TINAMUIR= 10% off at EnduroPacks.com
- BodyHealth Perfect Amino
As we were traveling during the month, although I took them with me, the intake was….well, sporadic at best. I would say I took them 1/4 of the days, which is not ideal, but I figured it wasn’t a big deal as I was taking time off, and then building back up with my mileage, so it was okay to have somewhat of a break.
I could then see just how much of a difference they make…although I realize that it doesn’t work quite like that, but after a month, it might show some kind of difference.
And it did.
After bugging Jonathan to try get my results faster (yes, I can be pushy that way hahaha), they came through on Friday night, just before I went to bed, but I knew I would be too eager to read in the morning, so was best to just look now.
It was interesting to say the least.
Inside Tracker has a cool add-on that I like to do called Inner Age, and it looks at your biomarkers, and tells you how your blood matches with your actual chronological age. Lets just say I had aged a lot since last time.
I know that this is a bit out there (or woo woo as Josh Trent says!), but its kinda fun to look at.
Anyway, so looking through, I was excited to see that only one of my markers was “at risk”, which was my total cholesterol.
Of all the markers, this is the one I am least worried about based on what I have learned through my chats with Tawnee.
I am happy with my diet most of the time (when I am not pigging out), and yes, I am sure I could move to a vegetarian diet if I needed to, but at this point in my life, as a woman, I would rather have the animal products in there to help with recovery and optimize my female hormones as best I can.
But watch this space, someday I may move to a vegetarian diet, or at least cut back on the meat products to see what happened.
So that was the good news, the bad news was that my “needs work” section was much larger than all my prior inside tracker results, and even a lot of my “optimized” markers were heading towards the “needs work” section pretty rapidly.
This makes it pretty clear that my diet was not in a good place during the past few months, and although that is okay, I have already said that I believe gaining weight after a race is good for you, eating whatever the heck you want is good for you, and living your life is good for you.
It shows me that the way I usually eat is so much better for my health, and it is time to get back on track. Not only for my running goals and performance reasons, but just to be in good health, so I can enjoy life better and feel happier.
You can see in the image above which markers I need to work on, and one of the things I find really interesting about the way Inside Tracker displays the results is that they recommend foods you should consider to improve your levels, and which direction your results are trending.
As you see here with my DHEAS, they need work, and they are trending downwards. If I can prevent it going into the at risk section, then my health will be better.
And of course I am not gonna complain about the first thing recommended on that list 😉 Chocolate for the win 😉
Another one that is kiiiinnddaaa important for runners is your iron, and ferritin is the easiest way to track it. Although mine generally hangs out around 40, I have got it up much higher in the past using those ferrous gluconate tablets I mentioned above, and with the lack of iron supplements over the last month, this is something I really need to get back on top of.
As you can see here, it also explains what that particular biomarker does, which is pretty cool.
Now for some of the good news.
Although my ALT and AST were still considered at risk, these are two markers that have been high for as long as I can remember. In fact, I don’t ever think I have had blood work where it has not given me high liver enzymes (other than maybe when I was a baby!!).
Most of this is down to the hard training, and actually, my endocrinologist is referring me to a gastroenterologist, which I have an appointment in a few months, as my liver function is the only problem we can really see through my tests lately.
BUT, this number is decreasing, which I am happy with!
Part of that may have been that December was a lighter month of training, but I also was very consistent with taking my probiotics from Prescript Assist (other than last month!). I have also been drinking my Kentucky Kombucha almost daily, which helps with this.
If your liver enzymes are also high, or you do put your body through hard training, these are two products I would highly recommend. I understand that you might not be able to access Kentucky Kombucha if you are outside my state, but there are other local Kombucha brands in your area…unless you live in the UK, where I have not found Kombucha yet!
Maybe someday GB will get with the times 😉
After you look at your markers, it can be overwhelming to look at all the foods you have to include, so you can move on to the next steps, where you set some goals, and they give you some areas to work on based on your priorities.
I think I have made it pretty clear that I think getting your blood work regularly is important, and it can be a good reminder of what you need to focus on over the coming months. It is also a kinda fun challenge to perfect them….which I know will never realistically happen, but the competitiveness in me is damn determined to try!
Inside Tracker has actually increased their prices this year, BUT if you sign up with code TINAMUIR before the end of January, you can get 2016 prices plus a little bonus discount (just for my readers!).
I love how easy Inside Tracker makes it to track and understand, and for me, this is ideal, as the regular blood work panels go so far over my head, and I then have to spend like 3 hours researching what I can do to make those numbers better AND you never know how the general ranges they give you match up with the unique requirements being a runner brings.
However, I understand for some of you, regular blood work may be the only option, and if that is the case, that is definitely better than nothing, you just may need to do a little research before and after to know what markers you need to get, and what you need to do to improve them 🙂
I do get free Inside Tracker service, and for that I am very grateful, BUT I hope you know by now that I would not recommend anything I did not truly believe in.
I am honest, and if it wasn’t worth it, I would tell the company and not mention them on my blog…they choose this option over a bad review! I have had a few of those over time 😉
I have something exciting to ask you on Wednesday, I am gonna need your help 🙂
How often do you get bloodwork?
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I get mine done for the doc once a year but NOT TO THIS EXTENT. I find this extent fascinating and wonder if, as I age, if would be helpful to non-competitive athlete me too?
Oh absolutely. I think it would be good for anyone, and I am not just saying that. Maybe get it done once, and see what you think? Then you always have something to go back and compare to based on their recommendations?
I like InsideTracker and find it fascinating because it is helpful. Neither of us are having “medical emergencies” and that isn’t what it’s meant for. It’s nice to see how your diet stacks up and takes tolls on your body. I just wrote a post about my results last week, thanks for sharing Tina.
In the past, I haven’t gotten my bloodwork done frequently because I’ve always been so healthy. With my recent diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, I feel like the human pincushion. My baseline bloodwork (before starting meds) was perfect and that really encouraged me. I’m a bit afraid to get my follow up labs because I’m on steroids and methotrexate and I know what that can do to your liver. Sigh.
I’m reading Matt Fitzgerald’s new book, The Endurance Diet, for my blog book club and he swears that ALL elites follow this high carb eating plan. He also claims that most elite athletes can’t sustain high performance on a veggie based diet. I read your comment about considering a vegetarian diet interesting, and that you think you need some meat in your diet. I’m wondering if you’ve read this book, and if you wouldn’t mind commenting on the elite diet for my blog post?
Hi Wendy 🙂 Sorry to hear about the RA, not fun, but hopefully over time you learn how to handle it a little more, I get your nervousness about getting bloodwork done though 🙁
I have Matt’s book, and I am in the process of eating it. I was meaning someday, I would like to give it a try. I don’t think I could now, but I would like to see how things change later down the line, to see if I could get everything I needed, at a time when it didn’t matter so much about performance. As for your blog post, absolutely! Send me an email email@example.com with what you need 🙂
Thanks for sharing – this is so interesting to me. Like you, when I get my blood work done, my liver enzymes are usually on the high side of normal. I don’t really do anything, other than have a couple glasses of wine during the week, that would damage my liver. It was reassuring to read that exercise can raise liver enzymes.
yes it’s amazing how quickly our numbers can change! I have to ask, why are you not concerned with your cholesterol numbers?
Thank you so much for sharing all of this! I’m getting my second test done on Monday and I’m sure my results will be more “in danger” than last time since I was in-season vs now…which is out of season…but that is why I’m doing it!
Thank you for sharing this! Total cholesterol is a problem area for me as well – and it’s so frustrating when people like you or I eat right and are active, but it still is up! Mine’s due to genetics and lean PCOS/wonky hormones, however. Like you, I’m not ready to cut out meat – especially because, as you said, the B vitamins and iron (which has turned up low for me in blood work) are so important for being a healthy female.