Distance running is one of the most taxing and difficult sports you can put your body though. This type of endurance and high intensity exercise can cause significant taxing on your body systems. It is not uncommon to have changes in vitamin levels, iron levels, and hormone levels over time. These are a result of significant physical and emotional stress during training. Many times, with mild or moderate changes in these systems, there are usually not any symptoms. Once the symptoms do appear, the damage is usually fairly significant and difficult to recover from. This makes treating these hormonal imbalances very difficult and time consuming.

When your body systems are not in balance, or your body does not have the ability to recover and heal the way it should. This makes your workouts harder, your muscles more sore, your energy lower and your sleep worse. When your body systems are out of balance, or recovery and healing are delayed, workouts become harder, muscle soreness intensifies, you fatigue more easily, and sleep much worse.

The most common vitamin deficiencies that are seen are B12, iron, magnesium and Vitamin D. The common hormones that are often abnormal, or not in optimal range are thyroid and testosterone. It is a common misconception that a woman’s testosterone level is not important in overall health. Research over the last several years has shown that maintaining healthy and optimal testosterone levels in women help with muscle recovery, bone density strength, mental clarity, mood and energy. For men, we know that testosterone levels are associated with lowered libido and a decreased sex drive. But we’ve also come to understand that unexplained weight gain, loss of muscle mass, chronic fatigue, and mood swings are all also symptoms that can easily be associated with low testosterone. Proper management of these testosterone levels in women and men should be performed by physicians who understand the stresses of endurance athletes, and are well versed in the best ways to obtain optimal levels. When done appropriately, you see all the benefits of healthy testosterone levels and recovered vitality without the side effects often associated with treatment.

Without regular testing of these hormones and vitamins, you cannot truly know how your body is working, and you will lack the proper information to make the changes to your diet and lifestyle, allowing you to always be training to be your best!

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