Friday, December 1

It's not what he says, it must be the way he says it....

...but as soon as I put the phone down from talking to Bobby McGee, I am bursting to go for a run.

It definitely isn't what he says, because for the life of me I can't recall him making any specific "motivational" or "inspirational" comments. We were having a conversation about a recent blood test I've had done. Bobby is one of the few coaches who wants his runners to have a serum ferritin test done, even if they look healthy. I put it off for a year. But now I am seriously gearing up for the mile I had one done and low and behold, I have some weird stuff going on with iron.

Serum ferritin is a good marker for your iron stores. Mine tested out at 50. A reasonable number to aim at is 200! Measurable range goes beyond 300. Anything above 400 and they'll be testing you for EPO. Runners, particularly forefoot strikers like me, have an occupational hazard called "footstrike anaemia". Repeated impact with the ground destroys red blood cells. This is Not Good, as iron-containing red blood cells transport oxygen.

An endurance athlete needs to be able to a) replace cells and b) maintain sufficient iron -- because that's the stuff that enables the blood cells to pick up oxygen in the first place.

Given that my serum ferritin is down at 50 even after a four-week lay-off, it is more than likely that I was training and racing this year with it down even lower. And I train and race at altitude. Hm. No wonder I was so tired sometimes I couldn't get off the sofa.

Bobby's translation of the figures is that I am replacing cells OK, but do not have enough iron in my system. So it's supplements for me. If they don't bring my level up in six weeks, then we'll have to investgiaget some more.

Of course, part of me is hoping that this will give me a turbo-charge going into the New Year. Better men than me have slogged along putting their tiredness down to hard training, then been revitalised by supplemental iron: Brendan Foster, Dick Beardsley, Alberto Salazar, for instance.

Anyway, with that cleared up, I suppose it's understandable that I would excited and inspired to go for (another) run... but no, there's something else going on. I don't know how he does it, but I'm not the only who Bobby is able to motivate "subliminally" !!


Matt Metzgar said...

I would say some more resistance training and a higher meat intake would help your iron stores. Good luck.

Simon said...

Thanks Matt.

You have an interesting blog yourself. I guess you were following some search results on shoes.

I just found an interesting study at Vern Gambetta's website you might like. It is a bit old; I am going to see if they have done anything more recent.

BioMechanics April 1998
Materials: Do soft soles improve running shoes?

Most athletic shoes advertise injury protection through “cushioning,” but real world studies have not shown impact moderation.
By Steven Robbins, MD, Edward Waked, PhD, and Gad Saad, PhD

Vern has the whole study as a pdf at
Go to "Shoe Biomechanics".

Matt Metzgar said...

Thanks, I will check out this study. I have come across other studies that have come to similar conclusions: the more cushioning and "technology" that is put into a shoe, the worse the outcome.