This week was 40.5 miles of “real running” plus 6 “miles” pool running -- training log is here.
Major rest/recovery week. As I noted last week, I was feeling a bit run down. And I have to fess up, even before then, I was noting a few trouble signs. No major flashing alarms, and it's not like I was running horribly, but I was a bit cranky, my resting HR was slightly up, and it was harder to get going in the morning. I was completing workouts, but feeling wiped afterwards, and my legs just felt a bit sluggish, with no higher gears. I noted all this, but blamed it on the high humidity and high mold count. I also noted that I was getting a bit more upset at little things, but again....humidity and allergies make most people cranky.
My coach had told us to do 4 hill repeats on Tuesday if we were racing on Thursday (not the normal 6-8). I wasn't sure whether I was racing or resting, but I figured either way 4 was the right number for me. I did the 4, but at the end I was wiped. And that was when I decided that a week of rest and easy running was probably best for me (my coach agreed). No hard running before next Tuesday.
This week, I also got my iron levels (actually serum ferritin) checked again. I won't go into the details, but I've had some minor issues over the past month that resulted in a notable amount of blood loss, which made me think it might be a good idea to check that again. I eat plenty of steak/buffalo, so I was pretty sure I was OK, but what the heck - easy to check, and I know I'm supposed to stay on top of it.
Got the results back, and my serum ferritin was 40. What does that number mean? I have to fess up, I don't know exactly. I do know that normal for me is between 55-65 (I've had it checked several more times since this post). I also know that doctors will tell you that anything over 15 is fine (but they're not focused on performance). In researching this stuff on the internet (which obviously has its own risks) it seems that most seem to suggest either 50 or 60 as a lower limit (see here and here, for example) below which performance starts to suffer. But there's counter examples of runners who do well on much lower levels - Deena Kastor is rumored to have had ferritin well under 40. Serum ferritin does seem to be one of those things where different people have different norms, and it's important to know what YOUR norm is. And I'm significantly below mine.
I also don't know whether this lower ferritin level is a cause of why I've been feeling run down, or just a correlation - reflecting the fact that I'm a bit run down. Or maybe it's totally unrelated - I'm definitely not anemic. For that matter, it's not like I'm running horribly either. But I think I'm at the edge of being cooked, and am hopefully pulling it back just in time.
What I do know is that this whole thing supports two things that I did - taking a very easy week and reaching out to a nutritionist for a consult on the ferritin issue (plus advice on calcium uptake). I'm not gonna rely on the internet here; I'll go to an expert.
In completely unrelated news, I made the best purchase ever on Thursday night - a pony of DOOM. Four things I love are 1) stuffed animals, 2) ponies, 3) the color black, and 4) skulls. Doom pony combines all four. My life is now complete.