“Faster than fast” says Lightening McQueen. How do runners become faster than fast? We run at our best when we train smart, decrease stress, eat for speed, sleep soundly and have optimal blood values.

I encourage all my athletes to get blood work when they are feeling really good while running which gives a helpful reference point for their future running years or when they are not feeling so good. Test, minimally, one time per year and retest any abnormal values after recommendations implemented shortly thereafter.

Here are the key labs that I suggest testing to help you optimize your running performance: Vitamin D, Thyroid Function (including TSH, Free T3, Free T4), Adrenal Saliva Cortisol, Full Iron Panel including Hemoglobin, Hematocrit and Ferritin. There are others but those are key. I will only talk about a few of those today.

For any given lab, your aim is to have an optimal value. “Normal” ranges are usually established for the non -running population.

Normal hemoglobin is often considered 13.3 to 16.7g/dL, but 14.3-16.7 would be better for optimal performance. It is known that the difference between 13 and 14 grams/dL in hemoglobin is about 8% improvement in oxygen carrying capacity per liter of blood being pumped to the running muscles, and a runner may pump 20-30 liters per minute when working hard. By extension, that 8% increase could turn a 17:23 5k runner into a 16:52 5k runner or faster.

Your aim for Hematocrit should be in the mid 40’s for optimal performance. Just increasing your hemoglobin and hematocrit alone to optimal levels via iron supplementation and or dietary changes could help you reach your next level of racing performance.

You can request these tests from your primary care physician or go to an independent lab testing facility, where you do not need a doctor’s order such as “Direct Labs”, and these labs charge less for tests which is helpful if you have a high insurance deductible.

We spend hundreds of hours training for our goals, these tests are a small investment of time and money that will help us reach our goal of becoming the best runner we can be. As we cross the finish line, we can be like Lightening McQueen, triumphantly shouting “Kachow!!”

Nicole Hunt
Speed Endurance Coaching
Please contact me anytime with questions