As a professional athlete, there is always a fine line between being in peak condition and falling off the edge towards illness. Unfortunately it’s still something I fall foul to and often I find myself battling back from hits to my immune system. I continue to make small changes to my diet, training and sleep in order to aid recovery but sometimes you can be left in the dark with no real answers as to why you are feeling so tired and fatigued.
A blood test can be a brilliant way of giving you the answers you need. Not only does it provide a full breakdown of the specific items within your blood that you may be low on – it can also be a great way of monitoring those values throughout the year. How does it change when you’re in a hard block of training? Do you need to up your vitamin intake or make changes to your diet? Or perhaps in the summer when you get closer to peak fitness – what are the ideal values you are looking for within your bloods in order to achieve peak performance?
I’ve been using Medichecks to monitor my bloods over the last three months. It’s something I do regularly through British Athletics but instead of making a four hour round-trip to the British Athletics doctor – i’ve been able to order it online. It’s been so simple to use. Once ordered online, the easy-to-use Medichecks box is sent direct to my house. From there, I pop along to the nearest clinic which is only a five minute drive and a nurse takes my blood with all the information supplied within the Medichecks box. All that’s left to do is pop it in the post box!
All of the results are then posted online which makes it extremely easy to compare my bloods from one test to the next, throughout the year – spotting any increases, decreases or any particular trends. It helps to establish my pre-training baseline and allows me to track any changes before heading to my next altitude training camp. Ferritin is a key marker for me as I train a lot at altitude and training with low ferritin can make a six week training camp become entirely useless as the body struggles to make red blood cells. It’s important I keep my values within the normal range and will regularly change the dosage of my iron supplement depending on my latest blood test result.
It also includes tests for inflammation and muscle damage, cholesterol for cardiovascular risk, hormones which can be affected by training such as testosterone, oestradiol and cortisol as well as markers for fatigue such as a full iron profile and vitamin B12. It tests 50 different markers in total and all within a three day turnaround. Quick, simple and easy!