Iron Deficiency, Anemia and Endurance Athletes

From Training Peaks

Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia are hot topics in many endurance athlete’s circles. Iron, specifically low levels of it, is often linked to feelings of exhaustion and poor recovery.

Iron is a critical nutritional component for all individuals, but is particularly important for athletes, due to the important role it plays in oxygen transportation to working muscles.

Let’s take a closer look at what Iron deficiency and anemia are and how endurance athletes can take charge of their iron consumption to ensure healthy levels during training.

What are Iron and Anemia?

Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, the protein that carries both oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. It also plays a key role in the transfer of oxygen in muscle cells. ATP, the body’s primary energy source, is also produced with the help of iron.

It’s an essential mineral, as our bodies don’t produce it naturally, so we have to get it from diet or supplementation to ensure we meet our nutritional needs. It’s clear to see how critical iron is for the endurance athlete, but what does it mean to have an iron deficiency?

Iron deficiency is the world’s most common nutritional disorder in both athletes and non-athletes1. Anemia is very simply a lack of iron in the blood. Furthermore, it means that hemoglobin levels are low…

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Update from Matt Russell

From Matt’s Instagram: (@mattrusselltri)

Feeling very grateful today. God truly gave me another chance in life.
I have my family, I can walk, the sharpness of my mind is starting to come back. I am physically and very emotionally hurt and shaken up but thankful for so many things. You can not see in the photo but I have stitches on the side of my neck over 7 inches long which was life threatening. Thank you for all of the people that were at the scene that quickly responded to me as I would not be here if it wasn’t for you. Always nice to have my friend and now Ironman World Champ @PatrickLange come visit me. Congrats to all on the day and remember each day truly is a gift from God. Thank you all for the support and even donating. I’m sure everyone has lots of questions but right now I’m going to spend my time with my family and recovering. I’ll try keep everyone updated on this as much as I can. Each day is truly a gift from God.

Three Quick Foam Rolling Tips

By Kate Ripley
From the blog of Boulder Bodyworker

It’s foam roller clinic season and here are a few pointers we like to throw out to participants to answer some FAQ’s….

1) If you are pressed for time, foam rolling post-activity is a more economical use of your time. 10 minutes to roll glutes, hamstrings, quads and low back are usually a great and semi-easy routine to commit to.

2) DO NOT waste your time rolling your IT bands. The muscle that regulates the tightness of your IT band is actually between the ASIS (top bump on your pelvis) and the greater trochanter (head of your hip), it’s name is the Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL) A more efficient use of your time and energy is to get a lacrosse ball, stand near a wall and put the ball on the wall at the correct height for the TFL and lean your leg/hip/TFL into the ball–with your weight off the leg being worked. We have a video here on the the website showing how to do this…or check out our YouTube channel.

3) Foam rollers are not all created the same. The white foam (in our estimation) can break down and become too squishy very quickly. Which negates their effectiveness. They are great for beginners who are new to rolling, but be aware you will need to graduate to the more firm rollers about 3-4 months after purchasing.

Our fave rollers are the 36-inch, black polystyrene rollers. Fave retailer is Amazon, here’s the link.

Here’s why. The black rollers are made of a firmer/dense foam roller that lasts quite a long time, even with dedicated usage. The size that we chose is due to the fact that you can do more things with the longer version. Our favorite move that demonstrates this best is, when lying with the foam roller parallel to the spine, with one end resting where your skull and spine meet (occipital ridge) and the other end resting at your sacrum (base of the spine) A very small movement (2-3 inches) back and forth (left to right) to each side of the spine is the most awesome feeling and release after a long day on your feet, after a run, long drive, etc. We like to stretch our arms out to each side to stabilize ourselves and open the chest a bit. Throw in some deep breaths and stay here for as long as you like, but at least 2 minutes to give the muscles a chance to “let go.” Try it and let us know what you think next time you are in.


Restore, Regenerate and Recover

Monday Feb, 20

THE FAST LAB, Centennial


Join us for this FREE workshop to learn how to best RECOVER from your training and racing. Proper recovery accelerates regeneration, decreases fatigue and enhances recovery. Learn and practice self massage and dynamic stretching techniques designed to help speed recovery by increasing blood flow, relaxing nerves and loosening muscle.
Details and Registration Here

Simple Recovery Strategies For Everyone

By Nicole Odell


I’ve been thinking about recovery strategies a bit lately. It’s something we often neglect (I’m guilty as the next person) as we’re rushing from here to there, to get in the early morning workout, then the kids ready for school, then off to work, then errands, then whatever else we have for the day. We focus on the specific details of our training and our intervals rather than how we are going to recover from said intervals after the fact. But if performance at any level is your goal, meaning you want to give the best performance that you can and stay as healthy as possible, you have to make time for recovery.

1. Prioritize sleep. If you are going to try anything on this list, do this. Are you watching TV, scrolling through facebook, or doing something otherwise not critical before bed? If so, unplug, unwind, and get to bed early. Even if you’re not an endurance athlete, get your sleep! Here are some sleep tips from the National Sleep Foundation.

2. Be Mindful of Nutrition. I’m not talking about counting calories, but rather simply eat your fruits and veggies. Choose real, whole foods over processed. After a hard workout, have a recovery snack ready to go. If you are having a hard time figuring out where you might need to make changes, track what you eat for a week or so on an app like A little tedious at first, but it can be eye opening. Eat the donut, but also eat the dark leafy greens. Fuel the machine with quality.

3. Build recovery into your workout time. This might be hard, because if we have an hour to run over lunch, we want to run for that hour. But then we get back to our desk and can tighten up. So run for 50 minutes and then stretch for 10. Your body will thank you.

4. Take a restorative yoga class. If anything, this will force you to slow down for 60-90 minutes each week. Put it on your recovery day, or an easy day of training. It does a mind and body good. Don’t want to get to a yoga studio, search YouTube or check I know it’s “one more thing” but in our fast-paced world, a little slow time is a good thing.

5. Foam roll regularly. Or at least get regular massages. When I foam roll and stretch regularly (often just right before bed), I sleep better and my body feels better. 10-15 minutes on a regular basis to work out any kinks can be all you need.

6. Take time to appreciate what you can do. Take five minutes each morning while you have coffee instead of checking social media, or the five minutes before you start your pre-sleep routine, write down what you are grateful for that day or week. This might not be a training recovery strategy, but it’ll put you in a more positive mindset, which goes a long way in terms of general health. Here are some tips on keeping a gratitude journal.

You don’t even have to be an endurance athlete to apply the above tips for general “life” recovery and to feel better. Recovery isn’t a side thought, something to squeeze in, but rather an important part of everyday healthy living for everyone.