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Find out more about the markers you should be monitoring to take your training to the next level.
Whilst training for an event or working towards a fitness goal, your inner health is just as important, if not more so, than how you look on the outside in how well you are able to physically perform.
We chatted to top running coaches Nick Anderson and Thomas Craggs from RunningwithUs, who work with athletes of all abilities, for their top 5 markers that should be monitored to optimise sporting performance.
Iron is a mineral vital for transporting oxygen from the blood to the tissues. Efficiently using oxygen is very important in athletic training and muscle building. Ferritin is a protein that stores iron so your body can use it later and the amount of ferritin in your blood is directly related to the amount of iron stored in your body.
Vitamin B12 is essential for the production of red blood cells, which are responsible for delivering oxygen to the muscles. A deficiency in B12 can lead to anaemia, a deficiency of red blood cells which can cause weakness and fatigue. Most people get B12 through eating meat, however it is important to check levels as B12 is crucial for performance, as well as overall health.
C-Reactive Protein, (or CRP), is a protein produced in the liver that is a marker of inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation can lead to the development of diabetes, certain cancer types and autoimmune diseases such as coeliac disease and arthritis. High-intensity sports training increases inflammation and increases CRP levels. If you do not get sufficient recovery, CRP levels will remain elevated. Exercise with proper recovery can help to decrease CRP levels and as an athlete it’s important to monitor levels of CRP to make sure you are correctly balancing exercise and recovery.
Vitamin D is important for athletes as it relates to overall health, bone density, innate immunity and muscle wasting. When we are exposed to the sun, our body creates vitamin D using nutrients obtained from certain foods including oily fish. Many of us in the UK are vitamin D deficient - with symptoms including muscle weakness, mood swings and fatigue. To train and perform optimally, it is important to monitor and track your vitamin D levels.
Exercise is perceived by the body as a form of stress and stimulates the release of cortisol. Long-term high levels of cortisol can lead to the breakdown of muscle and will interfere with muscle development. Testosterone acts directly to stimulate muscle growth in men and women, so low levels can affect muscle mass. Testosterone also affects mood and motivation. Having a greater understanding of your cortisol and testosterone levels can help to optimise your sporting performance.
A simple blood test can give you a great insight into key markers that can affect your training. Our Essential Health and Fitness Check, Endurance Check Elite, Sports Hormone Check UltraVit make it easy for you to check for these 5 markers and many more.