Oh My Blood!

Oh, my Blood!
It’s race week. Are you ready?

Training camps are done. The goal you set this time last year is calling for closure. Are you ready? Have you trained enough? Is the equipment ready? What are you going to eat the day before and during your event? Have I booked the hotel?!

These are all external variables we can control. Today, many athletes look at external measures such as heart rate, heart rate variability, (HRV) Training Stress Scores (TSS) and fatigue indexes as scores to let you know that you are ready. Are you peaking for the event?

However, as a coach for many years, I am always a bit shocked that we do not routinely measure what’s inside. Our blood scores. Training Stress Scores or HRV cannot tell you if you are anemic. A low red blood cell and hemoglobin count overrides TSS, HRV, HRrest, etc. If your “internals are beat up” you are not going to race as well as you want to.

Often, athletes come into our lab after completing their last training camp or big weekend of training. Mentally, they feel ready as they have checked off all the workouts they needed to do. Woohoo! However, we often find that they have pushed a little too far and basically taken away their chance to perform well. Oh no! They went too far, one too many workouts.

The art of peaking and tapering must consider some internal measures. Go to your family doctor and get a blood panel. What is your hemotcrit and hemoglogin? These are the cells that transport energy for you. What level are they at? At TCR, we routinely check these scores in our lab. It takes 5 min.

You can quickly improve your blood scores with diet modification and changing your next workouts. Endurance athletes often break their bodies down to extreme levels that requires some proper monitoring and diet changes. Everyone responds to training differently. Some people need a lot of iron and protein, some do not. It does not matter if your vegan, vegetarian or a carnivore. As important as inflating your tires and checking your running shoes, get your blood checked. Make that big race coming up a great day by making sure you are truly ready.