Maggie Rusch

Professional Triathlete

Know Better to Do Better

If you read my recent post about this past summer, it's pretty obvious that my 2016 season has been a bit of a disappointment so far. While a lot of it was certainly due to odd circumstances (crashes, dog bites, mystery illnesses), a good portion of it was also due to overloading my system and letting the little things slip. 

Sleep, nutrition, recovery—those are unfortunately always the first things to go out the window with my hectic schedule. So when I started a new full-time Consultant job in February, closed on a house within two weeks of seeing it in June and then juggled a number of other commitments, the thread started to unravel a little bit. 

I have already taken a step back and started to simplify my life. I've started to meditate. I have created morning routines to keep myself productive instead of working too late into the night or shoving food down as I work straight through breakfast, lunch and (sometimes) dinner. 

The next big win and focus for me is making nutrition and recovery a true priority, instead of only keeping that in mind closer to race days as I would typically do previously. Always the over-analyzer, I spent a lot of time the last few weeks evaluating a handful of the blood testing companies that have started to pop up and offer performance-based tests.

Everything that I read about Inside Tracker (including feedback from friends who have tried it) made it seem like Inside Tracker was the gold standard for both blood markers tracked, as well as targeted feedback after the blood analysis. So obviously this was the way to go.

Last Friday I popped in a local Quest Diagnostics blood testing center and within 20 minutes had five small vials of blood drawn and submitted for analysis. I should receive the results in the next day or two with:

  1. my results, including where they fall on the "optimal" spectrum
  2. tailored recommendations and behavioral modifications

What I really love about Inside Tracker is that they really do ask the right questions to make sure the feedback provided is the most relevant to you, your sport and your food habit history. The blood panel they pull is also gender-specific. Not only is this critical for the "optimal" ranges for women versus men, it also makes sure they are testing for gender-appropriate markers. While I wait for my results to process, I was able to fill out a questionnaire related to: 

  • Body metrics (height, weight, age, gender, etc)
  • Beverage intake (weekly caffeine, alcohol intake)
  • Supplements (Do take a multi-vitamin? Do you take additional supplements?)
  • Weekly exercise frequency (but also asks how often you do certain endurance workouts, or speed-work, and the frequency/distance/effort for specific types)

You can see it even gets down to the specific types of foods that you eat:

I had to laugh when I populated this section, since Brian is known for a "55 aerobic" run as his gold standard workout. I probably do a 55 aerobic 3-4 times each week. 

So what do I think my current issues are and what I'll get out of this? 

Frankly, I have no clue and am a little scared to see what comes back. I did take the test at a kind of unique time, after getting the flu and bronchitis and not being able to train for close to two weeks. I almost wonder if some deficiency was forcing my immune system to work on overdrive and easily get sick after a company retreat weekend and long red-eye home.

I think as a female athlete, I'll probably see some interesting feedback around Iron levels. I also frequently hear that people are surprised to learn that they are deficient in Vitamin D—but given that I've been loving my lunch runs (those 55 aerobic!) this summer, I can't imagine that will be an issue. Sadly, I would bet my cortisol levels will be high given the stress I have been under as of late. I also will probably see some interesting white blood level counts, but only because I was can't get out of bed, feverishly ill just a few days before testing.

The most important thing with blood testing for anyone and everyone is that you don't know what you don't know. As a data-driven athlete, I am incredibly stoked to get quantifiable numbers that I can use to make educated decisions and then follow-up on in the future to track progress based on what I have learned and utilized. 

I am absolutely positive that I will have some critical insights and action items to share. Expecting that there will be, I have already started tracking my daily food intake via MyFitnessPal so that I can see how close I am to recommended values and more easily identify areas for improvement. I almost hope there MORE issues to focus on than less—more opportunities to optimize... we will see! 

Once I get my results, I will be sharing the good, the bad and the ugly (go transparency!) and any of the steps that I will take moving forward to combat any red-flags or any questionable markers. I hope you follow along and consider joining me in either educating yourself about the true state of your body or how to focus on common issues that endurance athletes face due to our unique life style and training loads. 

Check out how to optimize yourself here: https://www.insidetracker.com

 

Note: I am not sponsored by Inside Tracker but did work with their team to learn more about how to optimize my health through blood testing and received a small discount to try it out. 

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