|Complete blood tests results at bottom of post|
Why I got my blood tested
Completing an Ironman Triathlon is tough and the months of high-level training can easily wreak havoc on the body. Getting a blood test before ramping up training is an essential part of the process as it establishes a baseline for my blood values. It also helps me understand if I am truly ready to embark on my training program and it gives me the confidence to do so.
Many athletes look to blood tests ONLY when they are feeling off in the middle of the season. The problem with this approach is that I would have NO baseline to compare values to. I might have abnormal levels which could explain the issues, or those levels could have been abnormal all along. Establishing a baseline can help me and my doctors make better and more informed decisions down the road.
The process of getting my blood tested
Getting blood tests proactively under the "wellness" category is no easy task in the US Healthcare system. Typically people only get blood tests when they are sick, and as a result so called "wellness" testing is not frequently covered by insurance. In addition, unless your doctor is familiar with endurance athletes, chances are he/she might not even prescribe the testing or understand why you need to be tested.
I decided to go with a Dr. Garret Rock at Athlete Blood Testing for my blood test. InsideTracker and BluePrint are two other services I considered but Dr Rock has been intimately involved in research on using blood biomarkers in athletes for 8 years. He has personally worked with thousands of professional athletes including pro triathletes, runners, and cyclists. Dr. Rock's expertise allows him to truly understand the significance of blood biomarkers in a way that no general physician or other service can.
In his words, Dr. Rock says: "Don't try to interpret yourself. I have seen tens of thousands of tests on athletes now and analyzed a giant database that we've been populating over the last 4 years, as well as read thousands of studies...and I am still learning something new occasionally. To get the most out of your tests, rely on those that have a comprehensive understanding of how to tie all of the information together. It's much more complex than simply looking at a number and comparing to normal/abnormal range. Ideal ranges and normal ranges vary based on your age, gender, and frequency/duration/intensity of training/racing. These should be factored in to your interpretation."
In addition to Dr. Rock's expertise, Athlete Blood Test was super simple when it came to the process. Instead of a process that can take weeks, ie. getting an appointment into my primary, being sent for labs, and then getting another appointment with my primary to discuss the labs, Athlete Blood Testing took only days and I was over 2,000 miles from Athlete Blood Test the entire time. The whole process included:
1) Selecting the test panel. I opted for the Gold Panel as I wanted the most comprehensive panel to establish my baseline. I added it my cart and completed the checkout process answering a few questions along the way. I received a confirmation email that included instructions on the closet LabCorp location to get my blood drawn from.
|Two vials of blood drawn|
3) Get Results - I had my report emailed to me on the following Monday. I also had a chance to talk to Dr. Rock on Tuesday over the phone, although phone follow-up is an additional charge.
My Blood Test Results
Here is my report. Dr. Rock explained to me that I was the 1 in 100 with ideal labs and that the typical lab results and reporting are much more complicated than mine. His work with professional triathletes has shown that an extremely high number of them have deficiencies in: Iron, Vitamin D, and/or Magnesium. However, I did not have any deficiencies. I will say that I have been supplementing all three over the years, and I know MgSport is proud of me for keeping my Magnesium levels up. I know Matt Miller at Base Salt is proud of my electrolyte numbers.
While my Testosterone was on the low side of normal, Dr. Rock was also confident that my numbers were unlikely to fluctuate significantly given a similar training profile as previous years. He also assured me while they were on the low side of normal, they were quite normal among my professional peers. My LDLs are a little high, but frankly much lower then when I wasn't a triathlete altogether.
Overall getting my blood tested was a very positive experience. Not only did it clear the path for my training, but it was also hugely refreshing mentally knowing where my numbers were.
If you are interested in getting your own Athlete Blood Test you can do so and save 10% in the process with Athlete Blood Test Coupon Code: bloodtest10. 10% off brings the plans to Gold ($314), Silver ($224), and Bronze ($143).
Lastly if you are a triathlete or endurance athlete, I have set up a FREE Ironman Q&A group on Facebook. Feel free to ask any question you might have about Ironman Training or endurance sports.