InsideTracker: Pre-Indy V. Pre-Trials
In the months following the marathon trials I found myself chasing a track trials standard in the 10k. I had convinced myself that a couple easy weeks down after the trials would allow me to regain control of my spring season. After all I didn't finish the race and I convinced myself that the only reason it went poorly was because of my chest cold. That wasn't the full story but I was at a vulnerable point and wanted to prove to myself and others that I was still the same runner. At first things were good but after a few weeks my body began feeling like it was sliding backwards. I couldn't keep up in workouts, my legs felt dead, and I was putting on weight. After a disappointing race at the end of April I had to make the tough decision to quit chasing my track Olympic trials dream and listen to my body. I had to hit reset and get myself back on track despite what my heart was feeling. I began assessing what I did wrong, what the warning signs were, and ultimately came to the conclusion that I was overtrained. Once such indicator was my InsideTracker results from just 1-month before the trials. In January when I first reviewed these results with an InsideTracker consultant and my sports dietician we rationalized my results. Looking back at them now I know I was in a bad place. So I took a three week break, retested with InsideTracker and seeing the difference gave me the confidence that I was ready to resume training.
Looking back at my results from January and comparing them to where they were after my training break in may, I could tell that I had been overtraining. Most of my levels of things like calcium, magnesium, B12, and cholesterol where all fine but the bio markers specifically related to muscle health, stress, and my immune system showed concern. My ferritin levels were on the decline and I was dealing with soreness and constant fatigue. I could feel myself losing muscle and putting on fat. I felt like I was constantly hungry which was likely because my body was operating in a constant state of recovery. So what exactly was happening? These biomarkers were the problem:
Testosterone:Cortisol Ratio: This is an overtraining and stress indicator and it shows whether you are balancing training and recovery. A low T:C ratio can be an indicator of overtraining, high stress levels, and/or poor sleep, any of which can result in muscle breakdown and fatigue. The ratio itself shows whether the body is is in a state of increasing or decreasing muscle mass. The testosterone hormone is responsible for increasing muscle mass and bone density. The cortisol hormone is released in response to stress. It functions to increase the breakdown of proteins, slow the rate of glucose absorption, and promotes the breakdown of fats. Elevated cortisol can cause the body to enter a state of constant muscle breakdown, suppress the immune system, and increase risk for injury. Makes since as to why I was dealing with sickness and injury in early January and ended up sick at the trials. When I tested in January was value was 21. On a scale ranging from 0 to 100, that's pretty bad. When I rested in June I was up to 42. Still needs work but significantly better result.
White Blood Cell Count: This was probably another reason I got sick. I had a suppressed immune system in January with a white blood cell count of 3.5 (thousands/uL) where my optimal range was 3.8 to 7.3. A low white blood cell indicates that the body is less able to defend against infection. It also indicates high inflammation. When I retested in June my number went up to 5.5 an obviously much better result!
Liver Enzyme Group: This is something I am still working to lower. It is hard to test it around training because any exercise can skew it but no nonetheless I am still working to get it down. Your liver enzymes can be indicators of over exertion. Muscle breakdown will get into the blood stream showing higher levels within the blood. The elevated liver enzymes will also have an impact on blood sugar. Typically you will see higher resting blood sugar levels when any of your liver enzymes become raised. Once you have done some damage to the liver it takes some work to reverse it. It has however definitely improved since January where it was at its worst. The enzymes I had concern with were:
- ALT: An enzyme found in the liver that helps chemical reactions occur. HIgh levels indicate liver damage or disease. My level rose drastically before the trials and has since come down some. This is still a work in progress.
- AST: An enzyme primarily found in the liver but also found in the heart, muscle tissue, kidneys, brain, and red blood cells.When there is damage to any organs or to muscle tissue AST will spill into the blood stream creating elevated levels. I had a period of time after I ran a half-marthon in LA on New Years where I was sore for 2-weeks. I likely did damage to my muscles during this period which may account for the elevated AST AND ALT levels.
Creatine Kinase: This level goes up immediately after exercise but normally goes back down in the hours after. If this level remains elevated in the blood, it typically is a sign of muscle damage or over-exerted muscles. Creatine Kinase is an indicator of muscle health so being mindful or it could help prevent injury. After the trials I saw my level jump significantly from what it had been in June of 2015. I was above my optimal range which fits in with all of the other biomarkers I had problems with.
Looking through each of these different biomarkers and reading the science behind them, all of the symptoms I was having from weight gain, to blood sugar control issues, to prolonged soreness, were all a result of my training. All of these things are also hard to grasp as a runner. We all think if we just keep working harder we will get better. We don't stop to think the reason we are struggling could be because we are working too hard. It really hit home for me when I could see these things on InsideTracker. I made an effort to begin eating more of the foods InsideTracker recommended to help with each of my concerning biomarkers. Then I gave myself a break and listened to my body for when I needed to back off. It all payed off.
So now as I look forward to keeping this momentum going in the spring, I am all set to retest all of my biomarkers with InsideTracker's Ultimate package. I took 10 days off post marathon and am taking my time getting back into training. I hope to resume full training in December but I am going to let my numbers speak for themselves. #blooddontlie
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