Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Athlete Blood Testing - Blood Work Test Results for Ironman Pro Triathlete

Complete blood tests results at bottom of post
Athlete blood testing - frankly it is one of those topics that no one talks about. While I have seen a few professionals talk Testosterone, I don't recall anyone discussing it openly in a general sense. As a result, I thought I would share my own blood test numbers, the process I took to get them, and the benefits I get from testing. Complete test results, Testosterone and all are at the very bottom!!!

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
2) Get Blood Drawn - My LabCorp location doesn't need an appointment, but because I had already eaten that day and I was told to fast, I opted to use the online scheduler and scheduled an appointment for the next day, a Thursday FWIW. There is no additional payment at LabCorp, my payment to AthleteBloodTest covered all the testing. I was in an out of LabCorp within 10 minutes.

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.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

11 Recovery Tips for your Marathon Run

First off, huge congrats on your Marathon finish!! Pat yourself on the back for your tremendous accomplishment - you should be very proud of yourself!!

The Marathon is an absolutely grueling run that is extremely taxing on the body. Now that you are finished it is time to focus on recovery. Taking recovery seriously will help your body recover faster and better. Here are 11 tips to help you do so.

#1 - Drink a protein shake as soon as possible after the race. This will start the recovery process as soon as possible. You will get plenty of carbs at the food tent, but there are usually no easily digestible protein options so have a family member bring one of these to you shortly after the race. You can stop at the local drug store and get a six pack of Ensure or bars work well too. I prefer to put some whey protein isolate in a Blender Bottle as I drink protein shakes everyday. It doesn't really matter as long as there are some quick absorbing proteins in it. Whey is very quick absorbing and easily digestible. You should take another shake midday and another at night right before bed. Continue this pattern for the next 2-3 days.
A must post race for DIY protein drinks

#2 - Keep moving - although you might be exhausted, keep moving. It is ok to take a nap but don't sit for extended periods of time. Take frequent short walks to keep the blood moving thru the legs. This will help the body delivery the necessary nutrients to the body while allowing toxins to be expelled.

#3 - Avoid caffeine - caffeine is going to add further stress to the system. Avoid it if you can as it will delay the recovery process. I understand there may be situations where you need caffeine, like for a long drive home post-race.

#4 - Sit in recovery boots. If you are fortunate enough to own a pair of recovery boots then sit in them for 30 minutes post race, mid-day, and before going to bed. If you have no experience in recovery boots then here is a short comparison on the two units I have and use daily: Normatec Vs Air Relax
Compression Recovery Boots
 A great, easy, and relaxing way to actively flush the legs

#5 - Drink lots of water - your body has a lot of repairing to do and you are going to need a lot of carbs and protein to help the recovery process. But it takes a lot of water to process carbs, protein, and flush the body of toxins. Drinking lots of water will help expedite the recovery process. You don't need to go crazy, but have a greater conscious awareness about staying adequately hydrated. If you urine is darker at all then you need to be drinking more fluids.

#6 - Take a nap. If you have the time then take a nap. The more naps the better. Don't think of naps as being lazy, think of them as aiding the recovery process.


Bromelain ie Pineapple Enzyme -
 Natural anti-inflammatory + Breaks down proteins
#7 - Avoid NSAIDs and other painkillers. Anti-inflammatories are going to be hard on your system. If you need something for pain look to natural anti-inflammatories like Bromelain, the enzyme in Pineapple that is a natural anti-inflammatory. You can buy Bromelain itself which is extracted from Pineapple and is very affordable. It also aids in the breakdown of proteins which will also help the recovery process. My recommendation is this Source Naturals 2-pack. 240 tablets in total.

#8 - No running - You probably won't want to run, but refrain from running unless you absolutely feel capable of it in the days following your marathon. If you swim, get to the pool and do light swimming in the days following your marathon. Swimming and walking are the best activities to do.

#9 - Take Epsom Salt Baths - Epsom salt can help relieve general soreness with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) - this is what you are feeling when you feel that pain in your quads or calves. Epsom salt can help relieve that pain naturally. Poor a generous amount of Epsom salt into a warm bath and soak for 15-20 minutes

Epsom salt baths can promote bloodflow and helps with DOMS.


#10 - Be cognizant of germs - Marathons are very hard on the body and can knock out your immune system. If you are traveling home by air or returning to work be extra cognizant of germs. Wash the hands or use hand sanitizer on the go.

#11 - Use the foam roller. You might be too sore immediately post race or even the following day, but use the foam roller as soon as you feel comfortable doing so. Use the foam roller to break up adhesions, scar tissue, and to continue to promote blood flow.

If you don't have a foam roller, you might consider making the investment. My favorite one is the original Rumble Roller. They come in a long version for home use, and a short version for travel. Both come in two different firmness levels. I have a black one (firm, long, home use) and blue one (soft, short, travel use)

Rumble Roller - The best 'torture device' / foam roller in the world.


Lastly if you are triathlete, endurance athlete, or marathoner, I have set up a FREE Q&A group on Facebook. It will always be FREE. As a long-time age-grouper I spent way too long determining what information I could trust and what I couldn't. As a TRUE student of the sport I have learned a lot, remain open-minded, and realize that so many people disseminate information blindly and then bad myths become lore. Hoping to shed some light and simplify things for people.