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As I mentioned last week, I went for a whole bunch of bloodwork the day after the marathon. I received those results and spoke to and received some feedback and guidance from my physician. I knew the results would be a bit skewed the day after the marathon so I wanted to get tested again.
I had begun interacting with Jonathan – one of the leads at InsideTracker – on social media back in the fall. I had first learned about InsideTracker from Mary‘s blog – she is one of the runners whose hard work and dedication I admire. I knew it could benefit me to have the same type of bloodwork done. But between work, running, family, holidays, I kept putting it off. I have the tendency to stay super organized with things that are fresh in my mind – and completely let other things just fall off. That’s what happened with this.
Honestly, in the back of my mind, I had begun to question the need. I’ve always been a big proponent of trying to get all of my nutrients and minerals from food rather than supplements. I don’t take any sort of pill or supplement – nothing. If I’m missing something, I’d rather change my diet that take a pill.
I also figured that if I was deficient in something, I’d know. Recovery from long runs or workouts might take longer. Maybe I would feel more tired or exhausted after them than should be expected. Or maybe I’d feel out of breath or tired during regular, easy-runs.
I was eating well, feeling great and running stronger than I had ever been before in my life. So therefore, I was getting all the nutrients I needed, right? Wrong.
I went from having a breakthrough training cycle and feeling amazing for months and months to everything feeling off 7 days before Boston. My last long-ish run was 9 days out from Boston – it was 13 miles and I felt amazing – both before, during and after. I didn’t run the next day – but not because I didn’t feel great. I just wanted to give my body a rest day. And then everything seemed to change Monday morning. That whole week is a blur. Between long and stressful hours at work, to not sleeping great to having pains in my stomach, no energy and a sudden lack of desire to do anything, it was like a switch was flipped and my body was done. And if I’m being honest, I still don’t feel 100%. My stomach feels heavy – there’s a lot of stomach pain, bloatedness and just “blah” each day when I’m at work.
So, I made last Tuesday a rest day (InsideTracker recommends no exercise for 24 hours before), fasted for 12 hours and headed to their NYC office Tuesday morning to have my blood taken. That was it. Super easy and quick. And then you just have to wait for the email with all the information!
Friday afternoon I finally got the email I had been waiting for: My results were ready!!
I’ll go into more detail in another post (later this week) about what my results say, things I’m doing to improve the areas that need improvement and the way ahead for me.
But I wanted to go into a bit of detail about InsideTracker.
So first, what is InsideTracker?
InsideTracker is sophisticated, science-based blood analytics, tailored just for each individual tester. – Inside Tracker
I know I am not the only one who has gotten blood work done and then stared at a piece of paper that is filled with words I don’t understand, numbers that mean nothing to me and no clear direction of what needs improving nor how I can improve them.
That’s where InsideTracker comes in. It was created by 3-MIT professors as a way to:
…Make blood test results much easier to understand — translating mysterious numbers into a clear picture of your health. InsideTracker also provides you with specific actions you can take to get your health in order. – CNN Money
How is this different from regular bloodwork at your doctors?
They’re looking for different things. While doctors screen me for things like leukemia and prostate cancer, InsideTracker looks for what co-founder Gil Blander calls “measures of health. “We’re not trying to see disease, because there aren’t many lifestyle changes you can make to change it,” he said. – CNN Money
What are you being tested for? InsideTracker looks at a number of biomarkers (the # and type depend on the test you choose – Fitness, Performance or Ultimate). These may include: calcium, cholesterol, cortisol, ferritin, glucose, HDL, hemoglobin, LDL, magnesium, potassium, serum iron, sodium, triglycerides, vitamin B12, vitamin D.
How does it work?
- Select which test is best suited for you
- Find the nearest blood center
- Get blood taken
- Receive email with results
- See recommendations for ways to improve areas that are not optimized or are at risk
Before you get your results, you fill out a short survey – questions about your lifestyle and diet preferences, methods of improving what’s “at risk” or “not optimized” (either exercise, diet, etc) and selecting your goals (reduce stress, sleep better, build endurance, boost energy).
And then your results are displayed – “at risk” biomarkers first, then “not optimized” then “optimized”.
I chose the “Ultimate” plan so 29 biomarkers were tested. As you can see below, 21 are optimized, 7 need work and 1 is at risk (more on these in another post later this week).
The dashboard briefly explains what each biomarker is testing – what your optimized range looks like (and where you fall), what it means to you and your health, some of effects of not being optimized and additional links (videos, too!) to learn more about the biomarker.
You can then learn about ways to improve your score – things like dietary changes, supplements, activity.
I’m incredibly thankful to have had my bloodwork done and to have a clear path of what I’m going to work on to begin to feel better. But, I’m annoyed with myself for waiting until something was very wrong before taking the first step. I’d really urge anyone who is training for a goal race to spend the $ and get this done – at least once to see what your numbers are. It’s not cheap BUT think about how much $ you spend on gear, race entry fees, race travel, coaching, etc. Hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. How much time is spent training for that event? Wouldn’t it be worth it to spend another couple of hundred dollars to ensure that you are setting yourself up for the best race you can run? I’ve learned so, so much about things some supplements and things I should be making more of an effort to eat on a regular basis – or ways to ensure that what I’m eating is getting absorbed by my body.
*I was not paid for this review. InsideTracker covered the cost of my bloodwork and testing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.