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home » nutritional supplementation is crucial

Have you ever come to a point where your training is steady yet your fitness slides? Have you lost motivation to train? Have you felt more like taking a nap than heading out the door for a workout? If so, you may have suffered from a nutritional deficiency. Anemia is especially common for endurance athletes.

An elite age group triathlete I coach: "At first, workouts were harder than normal and races slower than expected. Over the next few months, a normal workout became impossible. I wasn’t able to complete a training day that was once was a easy for me. I didn’t realize something was wrong until it took all my energy to make it through 8 hr workday, then I would come home and go to bed, no workouts, no dinner, I was exhausted. After 3 days of this I call Coach Steve and he said I was anemic. I didn’t believe it but a week later went to the doctor and the lab work showed that I did have iron deficiency anemia. After 2 weeks of iron supplements I began to see a difference, much more energy and speed. Each day in training I would get faster."

And she's an MD!

Training for endurance sport puts stress on your metabolism that goes well beyond what's 'normal' for humans. Even with the best eating habits your metabolism may not be able to keep up. If you have a diet without red meat (as I do), you may have a deficit for a key nutritional component like iron. Without sufficient iron your red blood cells' function is reduced, and this is a major problem for endurance athletes because those red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to muscles.

If a deficiency like anemia hits it will likely happen during a stressful training block. If you took it easy during the off-season your body likely had time to recharge, so early season is usually OK. Later on when you've been training steadily for a while is typically when the affects will be felt. The right thing to do if you suspect anemia is to have blood work done. If you have a problem it will be obvious in the results.

Anemia is the most common deficiency, but there are others to watch out for. Low protein intake (especially for vegetarians) can lead to poor recovery. You need certain minimum amount of protein intake for muscle repair, as well as virtually every other body part. The needs for athletes go beyond those for sedentary humans.

The saying: "You are what you eat" is in fact quite true. Nearly all body cells are replaced over time and if a certain chemical is missing or insufficient from your diet there will be a problem!

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