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I just closed out a big week of training including my first 20 miler of the cycle and lots of goal marathon paced miles throughout the week and in the long run. The entire week went so well. The paced miles felt comfortable and controlled and I really didn;t notice the mileage throughout the week. It was a huge confidence boost and left me eager for the next week of training.
But this week, and the long run in particular, were part of a bigger test in this training cycle and confirming a suspicion I've had about the past few weeks of training.
Ok, let me back up a bit. For the past 3-4 weeks of training, I've been having AMAZING runs. When I say AMAZING, I mean absolutely, completely, wonderfully amazing. Miles would tick by without me noticing, paces and workouts felt effortless, and my endurance was like nothing I've ever experienced. In long runs, I'd finish the run shocked that I ran as many miles as I had. I wasn't getting sore afterwards and I had so much energy. I kept waiting for this feeling to end, but it never did and still hasn't. I knew that my new training program has been great for me and contributes a lot to me recovering better and feeling fresh and confident, but what I was experiencing was on a whole different level from how I'd felt on this program for the past few months. And after about a month of this feeling, I'm pretty confident I know how I've acheived this state and why it's not going to end.
The answer goes back about 2 weeks further than when this sensation of endless endurance started. It goes back to when I had bloodwork done at the end of February in an effort to figure out how I slip into a hyponatremic state so easily because I wanted to confirm if my electrolyte levels are too low. The doctor suggested we test my iron levels as well in an effort to be thorough.
When the results came back, I was shocked. Yes, my electrolytes tend to be at the very bottom of normal, which would suggest it's easy for me to become hyponatremic, but my ferritin and iron saturation levels were scary low. If you take the bottom number of the normal range and divide it in half, I'm still not there. My doctor told me he had never seen ferritin levels that low. What this basically means is that I have no iron in my blood, and I also don't absorb it at all from food, which keeps the level in the blood low. I was advised to get on a supplement immediately and given some suggestions on how to boost the absorption from the supplement.