If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you might know that I’ve gotten my blood tested with InsideTracker on several occasions. Before starting a new training cycle in 2020, I thought it would be a good idea to test my blood again. I would rather know if I’m deficient in something now, instead of finding out the hard way by feeling fatigued in March and April.
I’ve already discussed how my goal for 2020 is to get back into shape. 2019 was not my year for running, but I want 2020 to be the year I get back into fitness. It wasn’t that I didn’t run in 2019, because I did; but my priorities ended up in different places.
One of the many things I wanted to do to prepare myself for my 2020 season is to get my blood retested with InsideTracker. The last time I got my blood tested was over a year ago. I had all of the plans to train and run hard in 2019, but that never happened. I still ran to stay healthy, but I didn’t run to be my best. It’s funny, because I did run many halves and a full marathon, but I was minutes off of any PR. You can’t go hard every year, and that’s something I’ve tried to remind myself.
Anyway, as I prepare for training in 2020, I don’t want to leave stones unturned. My body isn’t the same was it was in 2018 or 2019, and so I decided to get tested again. I wanted to have a baseline to see what I can work to improve.
Sharing your blood results can feel really personal. Like “OMG, I have low iron, am I a failure?” And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about blogging about food choices, it’s that diet is one of the most polarizing topics out there (second maybe to politics). I’m committed to sharing my entire process this year. I’ll talk about how I plan to build back fitness and hopefully feel better running.
What is my running goal?
My running goal for 2020 is to rerun a 1:25 half marathon (that’s 6:29 per mile). That isn’t a PR, but it is a realistic goal. Last weekend I ran a 10-mile race and averaged 6:58 per mile, it’ll take some work, but I know I can get there because I’ve been there before.
How do I plan to get there?
- Get a Current Running Baseline (Hair of the Dog 10k 41:49, 6:40 per mile; and Distance Series 10 Miler, 1:10.07)
- Get a Blood Levels Baseline (that’s in this post!)
- Train and Fuel Accordingly
It seems simple, and it is, but as we all know, simple doesn’t always equal easy. I’m not putting a time limit on it. Maybe it will happen in the spring, or perhaps in the fall.
What is InsideTracker?
In case you’ve never heard of InsideTracker, here’s a quick overview. They test your blood for 40 biomarkers. From the test results, their science team makes personalized nutrition and lifestyle recommendations.
InsideTracker is not a substitute for going to your doctor and getting regular health checkups, and they clearly state that they are not giving medical advice. InsideTracker makes recommendations based on your blood that will help you recover faster and healthier. Maybe you feel tired and running feels like a chore. You could be overtrained, or maybe you have low iron. Getting your blood drawn takes the guesswork out of “why do I feel like garbage.”
InsideTracker categorizes those 30 biomarkers into “optimized, needs help, and at-risk.” The optimal zone is exactly what it sounds like: normal and healthy. The needs help category is for areas that are a bit lower than they should be. Finally, the at-risk category means that there is something wrong and if you correct it, you’ll probably feel better. When a biomarker falls in the at-risk category and you need to be seen by a doctor, InsideTracker makes it very clear, and they can even send blood test results directly to your doctor.
InsideTracker Has All of the Following and More:
- A customized dashboard for you
- Customized Suggestions on your Blood Results
- Physician-ordered tests only give you numbers
If you’re a runner, and you want to get your blood checked, but it’s not a life or death problem, I find it is easier than going through a doctor. With Tricare and military insurance, I am very fortunate that my insurance covers a lot of things.
If I had a medical emergency, my insurance would cover getting my blood tested and checked. I do not have any ongoing medical conditions and my everyday life is fine. I want to know my blood levels so I can tailor my routine to be the best I can with running. I want to make sure my blood is optimized for training and that I’m not missing key vitamins that my body needs. That’s why I chose InsideTracker. InsideTracker is designed for many people, including athletes, to check their levels.
Usually, I choose to get my blood drawn at my house with the mobile service. It costs a little extra, but getting blood drawn is not my favorite thing. In fact, I have passed out giving blood or from needles more often than not.
However, this time around the mobile service wasn’t an option, so on a good day for our schedules, my husband drove me into Philadelphia. (I didn’t want to drive myself, only to pass out at the office). Thankfully, it was fine. It feels silly typing out my fear of needles as an almost 30-year-old woman. I’ve given myself panic attacks getting blood drawn, so it’s not an easy deal for me.
The woman at Quest Diagnostics was great and I was in and out.
My InsideTracker test results:
I have several biomarkers that fall in the need help category:
My cortisol has lowered but still not Ideal:
My cortisol being lower came as a surprise for me. Running-wise, my body hasn’t been stressed, but the rest of life has been stressful. I was shocked that I’m finally trending in the right direction.
My creatine kinase is high:
Creatine kinase is essentially the amount of damage your muscles have. The more fatigued the muscles are, the higher it is. While mine isn’t dangerously high, it is higher than we would like.
My vitamin B12 is too high:
I do eat a lot of red meat, so that makes sense. I don’t drink energy drinks or sodas anymore (the only soda I like these days is Dr. Pepper on road trips). The recommendation here is that I eat less red meat. Luckily for me, many diners now serve Beyond Burgers… we’ll see.
My “inflammation group is too high”:
This could be several things, including getting tested two days after a hard 10k. One major component of my fitness plan for 2020 is to get more sleep. I already strive to get 7-8 hours of sleep, but truthfully I’m someone who needs more sleep.
My iron is low:
Until my mid to late 20s, my iron was always borderline high. The first time I was tested, I was skeptical that maybe it was a fluke, but being tested twice in a row with lower iron means that I do need to work towards getting more iron. I will start taking an iron supplement once a day.
Both my calcium and vitamin D levels are normal:
YAY! As someone who had too many broken bones in my early 20s (mostly from overtraining), I am happy to hear my vitamin D and calcium are at normal levels. I’ve worked hard to get more calcium and Vitamin D, and I’m glad to see that it worked.
Now that I have this valuable data about my blood, I can adjust my diet as necessary. I don’t plan to follow a strict diet or completely avoid certain foods. Running is lifelong and restricting anything isn’t going to do anyone any favors. There are a few foods I can add to help to increase my recovery, decrease creatine kinase, and lower cortisol.
- Beans: I don’t eat a lot of beans. I don’t know why, but when I’m hungry, I don’t think about eating beans. So I’m planning to add a cup of beans on most days.
- Wheat germ: Wheat germ keeps coming up as something that helps lower inflammation groups and improve overall health. I didn’t know anything about it until InsideTracker, so I’m looking forward to seeing how my body responds to it.
- Iron supplement: I do believe most things can be gotten from food, but it can be difficult to boost low iron effectively, so I prefer to also supplement with iron.
- Less red meat: I don’t plan to go vegetarian or vegan, but I also don’t plan to have steak every meal.
- Sleep: Sorry, don’t talk to me after 8 pm.
In all, I’m happy I got my blood tested with InsideTracker. I’m looking forward to 2020 and putting effort into running again. I’m looking forward to seeing how my body responds in the next 3 months.
If you are interested in InsideTracker, you can learn more here.
Questions for you:
Have you gotten your blood tested? Have you used InsideTracker?