Disclosure: I received a discount on my second test in exchange for updating my Inside Tracker review. This is not a sponsored post, but it does contain affiliate links. This means if you purchase a testing kit using my discount code, I receive a small payment that helps keep Street Smart Nutrition (and me!) running.
I made my official entrance to Taper Town this week in preparation for my marathon debut at the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In just a few short days I’ll be embarking on that 26.2 mile long journey to become a marathoner. It hasn’t been an easy road, but I’m thankful to have made it this far without injury or major setbacks!
During my tenure as a collegiate athlete, I could never *quite* keep it together and stay completely uninjured through a season. I know, it’s a rare thing, but a few teammates of mine seemed to avoid the types of injuries that set them back by a few days, weeks, or (worst case scenario) an entire season. My #1 goal with training for my first full marathon was to avoid injury, train consistently, and get to race day with my love of running intact.
So far, so good!
I think a major factor that got me to this point was getting my nutrition game on point. In the past for shorter distances, I would wait until a couple weeks or days before the event to put careful consideration into what I was eating and drinking.
**NOTE: I don’t recommend this, but it’s one of those things that’s like, “Do as I say, not as I do.” You would think the dietitian that’s into sports nutrition would apply the same standards to herself, but nope 🙂
This time around, I knew that simply wasn’t going to cut it for me anymore. Not only was I tackling a longer distance, but my training was ramping up during the hottest, most humid time of the year. For anyone wondering, running in Kansas City in August is just not fun. I know some places have it worse, but that’s exactly why I don’t live in those places and exactly why I wish we could move north.
In addition to that, I also knew I struggled with some nutrition-related issues based on a previous Inside Tracker report. I completed my first test in November 2016 and it revealed I had some…uh, let’s call them…opportunities to make some changes. As a dietitian I’m not a big advocate of blindly guessing, throwing some supplements at the issue and hoping it gets resolved. I don’t recommend that for clients and I wasn’t going to waste time, energy, or money doing that myself.
The areas where I struggled the most were Vitamin D and Iron status – I suspected they had something to do with low energy levels and feeling extra fatigued after routine workouts. Sure enough, both were pretty much in the tank. Not the worst I’ve ever seen, but certainly not great. Armed with that knowledge, I added a Vitamin D and iron supplement, specifically cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) and ferrous bisglycinate (a gentler form of iron that reduces the likelihood of GI side effects).
NOTE: This information is not intended to provide personalized recommendations for nutrition supplementation. Please consult with a dietitian for individualized guidance if you suspect you should be supplementing your diet.
The benefit of repeating the same test kit was that I got to see how my results changed from my first to my second test in the same view. The Inside Tracker Dashboard is set up to show you a high-level analysis of your results, then dive deeper into each biomarker with additional info in the form of videos, graphics, and blog posts. They’ll also provide a guide with suggested foods to incorporate into your diet that are high in those nutrients.
I gave it a few months before I repeated the test and I was pleased to see movement in the right direction for Vitamin D status:
But still have some work to do for iron status:
I take a food first approach – what’s interesting is that as I was adding specific supplements to my diet, I was also transitioning away from a 100% plant based diet. I gradually added some red meat, additional fish and seafood, and full fat dairy into my meals. Despite the (outdated) notion that dietary cholesterol and saturated fat always have a negative effect, what I found was actually the opposite.
- I optimized my triglyercide levels. Though my initial level (128 mg/dL) was not considered elevated, it dropped to 69 mg/dL on my second test. Anything below 150 mg/dL is considered “normal” but I was a little surprised mine has crept above 100, so this was a positive change for me.
- I raised my HDL cholesterol from 58 mg/dL to 62 mg/dL – not a significant spike but still a move in the right direction.
- I increased my levels of DHEAS, a hormone precursor that can support the immune system and athletic performance.
I continued to eat a high fiber diet, with plenty of veggies, grains, legumes, and fruit. I didn’t make any other conscious dietary changes but continued to deepen my exploration of intuitive eating and experimenting with lots of variety in my diet.
I did see improvements in the areas I was worried about – I noticed I had much more energy and felt more less “normal”. That’s a good thing! The lack of noticeable symptoms doesn’t always equal wellness, but in my case the return to feeling like my normal self was a big win. I got back to my workouts feeling energized, I felt like I recovered from hard workouts more quickly, and started seeing improvements in paces during training runs.
**Keep in mind, improvements like that can often be linked directly to training. But indirectly, nutrition and targeted supplementation can support periods of intense training and aid in recovery.
Some areas I’ll start paying attention to next are B12 (low but not alarmingly so) and cortisol and hs-CRP (both markers of stress and inflammation, both of which remained high or increased from my first to my second test). 2017 was an eventful year with lots of travel, long days at work, and the stressful (but very exciting) leap to full time private practice. I suspect that type of chronic stress has a lot to do with these levels continuing to be elevated despite because more adapted to exercise and running.
I’ll be interested to see how things continue to change with continued adjustments to diet, sleep, lifestyle, and exercise! It’s always a moving target but the most important thing to me at this point is having plenty of energy to live the life I want to live and feel good doing it. In the back of my mind I’m curious how these numbers could translate to my long-term health and risk of future disease, but for the moment it’s not the highest priority. Since I’m a pretty healthy person and don’t routinely see a primary care doc, Inside Tracker has been a really valuable tool for gaining the insight I need to help me get to the starting line healthy!
So, with all of that being said, wish me luck for my first marathon!
If you’re interested in seeing what Inside Tracker can do for you and your health, check out their options for test kits HERE. Use “STREETSMARTRD” as the discount code to receive 10% off your test kit.
Have you ever used bloodwork results to guide nutrition or lifestyle changes?