Sept. 7-13: Taking more rest

Following last week’s long run it was clear to me that I needed to take things back a notch. The combination of too little sleep and tough workouts had exhausted me, or so I thought. I promised myself to listen to my body and take more rest when needed.

On Tuesday evening we had a hill training scheduled. It’s one of my favorites: three intervals of 2 km each with a killing hill in them. I resolved to listen to my body and not push myself too much. During the warmup I already felt it was difficult to keep up with the others. As we started the first interval, I struggled with the pace, even though we were not running particularly fast, and we hadn’t even started the hill yet!

Running uphill was exhausting. I soon lost sight of the other runners, and I had to walk a bit to catch my breath. By this point I was sure it wasn’t the broken nights or overtraining that caused this awful running form; I was anemic again. Once I made this conclusion, everything fell into place: the drowsiness I felt each afternoon, the dizziness and headaches, the heavy arms and legs, the disappointing result of my first race post baby. For months, I had found a thousand excuses for feeling this way and told myself not to moan and just keep going, so it was kind of a relief to realize that it is not normal to feel this way.

Rather than just buying iron pills and see if things would improve, I decided to see a GP and have my blood tested. The result confirmed what I already knew: I was extremely low on iron. Luckily, the rest of the tests came out well, although my vitamin B12 level was on the lower end of the normal range as well (not so surprising, given the challenge I did last month). Folate, on the other hand, was too high. Guess I got too much folic acid during my pregnancy…

Three days into taking iron pills I already start feeling better, but I keep in mind that it will take weeks if not months to build up my iron stores. In the meantime, I am trying to stop myself from doing too much. I took the weekend off from running and strength workouts, and although I am planning to join tomorrow’s training with the group I will try not to push myself. It also means I will have to forget about the Hamilton Half Marathon I was hoping to do in October. I will look for other runs, such as the Round the Bridges, later this year. I’m quite excited about racing again once my iron levels are back on track, because I still feel I could be faster than ever if my iron was at the right level!

Here is an overview of the workouts I did last week:

Monday: I did an ab workout on YouTube for a total of 30 minutes and felt sore the next day, so I conclude it was effective.

Tuesday: Today was the notorious hill interval workout that took away any doubt I had that I might be anemic. It was awful. I nevertheless ran a total of 13.11 km today.

Hilly interval run. Not my best run ever, so to speak

Hilly interval run. Not my best run ever, so to speak (11.83 km excludes running to the meeting point)

Wednesday: I created my own workout of different upper body exercises for a total of 30 minutes.

Thursday: Although the result of my blood test hadn’t come back yet, I took it easy during tonight’s tempo run with the running club. My average pace was quite slow for a tempo run (5:29 min/km) but it felt like a lot of effort. That night in bed I regretted having gone for the full loop (15.46 km including jogging to the meeting point), because my legs were restless (another anemia sign), which made it difficult to sleep.

Thursday evening "tempo" run

Thursday evening “tempo” run

Friday: The blood test didn’t lie: I am very anemic again. I figured it would be smart to take a break from running until I felt better, but did want to do some exercise, so I walked 5.4 km with Maria in the stroller. In the evening, I did a 30-minute Ashtanga yoga introduction class.

Saturday: Believe it or not, but I took a rest day! However, I did walk to the vegetable store and back with Maria in the stroller, a total of 5.8 km.

Sunday: Another day of rest, despite already feeling the effect of the iron pills. In the evening I did a 20-minute yoga session for runners.

Total: 28.6 km of running, 2 strength workouts, 2 yoga sessions and 11.2 km of walking. I don’t feel bad about the low mileage, as I know it was the right thing to do. I do, however, look forward to running a bit more this week, but it all depends on how I’m feeling physically.

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