Finding the Positive in the Negative; Cramps, Iron Deficiency, Fatigue
So many times in life something happens that we think it’s negative and will ruin the plan we have set for ourselves. When in reality, it actually is something positive. Where we don’t realize until after the dust settles and learned the lesson, that this event or change was something good for us.
I experienced this just last month as I was finishing up my training in Tucson and getting ready to travel to Europe for racing. For a couple weeks I was feeling fatigued and tired in my cycling, I was having difficulty with intensity and pushing at a harder pace. Nothing had really changed in my routine, I was still taking my vitamins and rejuvenate, getting rest, and eating healthy. I had just finished a large block of training and so thought I was probably still tired from that. My last day in Tucson I tried to go for a hard group ride, but without surprise I couldn’t stay with them when it started to go faster. I was mad at myself and frustrated with the extreme tiredness I was feeling.
When I arrived in Santa Fe I began having some leg cramping and decided this was my body saying it needed rest. So I decided to take the rest of the week off the bike and have a blood test done. The test showed my Iron levels were extremely low (lower then I’ve ever had). My running coach from high school said this is almost certainly the reason for my fatigue. I’m not vegetarian, but I was eating almost no red meat over the winter. So I began taking a supplement for Iron, eating red meat everyday and only doing some light swimming to relieve the cramping.
By the end of the week I was feeling better and ready for my travels ahead.
I arrived in Europe and only had some slight cramping, but was able to work it out quickly. Over the next couple weeks I had my team training camp in Spain and a big international level race of 4 days. The camp went amazing and I felt strong and revived. In the race I was the best for my team and improved my finish each day, arriving 18th on the 3rd day.
When I arrived in Santa Fe I was nervous, scared, and frustrated with all that was going on with my body. I know I was eating more sugar than usual (because of the tiredness, my body was craving sugar), and this was one of the causes for the cramping. But besides that I was doing everything good for my body. This time of feeling down and tired felt so negative and like I wouldn’t be as strong as I know I should be. I was especially nervous for Spain and that I would begin riding with the team and in the race and struggle to keep up.
Now looking back, I feel this was a slap in the face and an awakening in so many ways.
– The lack of intensity and tiredness telling me something was off internally.
– The overall fatigue telling me to take it easy in training as I was potentially overtraining without adequate recovery.
– The cramping telling me to rest and not keep digging.
I took the time to evaluate my problems and adjust what I was doing in order to come out better. And I have come out so much better. I am always having to remind myself that rest and recovery is so important. Sometimes it’s more important then actual training. Because as much as I know I can push myself, the body is also not a machine and needs rest and to be listened to.
Considering this period of turmoil, one thing that I was consistent with and know helped me to recover quickly is taking supplements and rejuvenate. I know if I had not been taking magnesium, essential fats, the mighty multi and most important the Rejuvenate, I would not have been able to recover in just a week from the fatigue. My body can feel depleted of energy and iron, but the base I have built by taking quality supplements allows my body to jump back quickly.
There are so many elements and pieces to this puzzle in the life of a professional athlete. So that when just one piece is off the image can become skewed, but as long as the other pieces remain solid it doesn’t take much to make the picture complete.
Through this sport and through my life I am always learning and these are the lessons that at first I think will ruin me, but actually make me stronger.