Blood test, performance and health

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  • #8713


    Regarding performance and training, what can we infer, if anything at all, from a routine blood test? E.g.: overtraining, fatigue, max Vo2, perhaps some indicators of strengths and weaknesses?
    So, can a blood test (such as a blood count) work as a “window” to our performance and maybe give valuable data to aid in building future training plans?


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    Anonymous on #8716

    By routine blood test I suppose you mean on that tests hemoglobin and perhaps serum iron levels. This test can tell you if you are suffering from anemia or have an abnormal red blood cell count. That’s about all these test can show. More tests can be done of course but usually they have to be specially ordered by a doctor. All of these are tests of health and not performance indicators. Bear in mind that fitness and thus performance must stand on a base of god health. If you have heath issues such as illness or injury or especially something like low ferritin you will not be able to perform well.

    But the simple answer is that no blood test can show performance. MaxVO2 can only be measured but a test in a laboratory where your expired breaths are measured (the apps on most high end HR monitors can not measure maxVO2).

    These tests are for monitor health and in that regard they can be very useful. However overtraining, while it is medical situation is so poorly understood that most doctors will not know what to look for. An overtrained athlete is still so much more healthy than 90% of the patients doctors see that a typical response when presented with a case of overtraining is bewilderment: “So, you say you are tired and can go out foe a 290 mile run like normal? Well most people can run one mile so you seem fine to me.”

    Use the symptom chart in our book and read the section on overtraining. While its causes are poorly understood. Its symptoms are well documented as is the treatment. Problem is proper diagnosis

    I am working on an article on Ferritin and it role in endurance performance. Most docs do not even know to check it and then do not understand what ‘normal’ is for an athlete.


    Thrusthamster on #8720

    What do you think about the Queens College step test for VO2max testing Scott?

    tonys on #8723

    Thanks Scott!

    Anonymous on #8726

    @thrusthamster: At first glance, I’m skeptical of the step test to determine VO2max. For example, there are women with VO2s over 65, so the test would be useless for them.

    Like most of these things, it may work for most of the people most of the time, but that only seems useful in a research context. With individual training, human averages from lab tests quickly become irrelevant. We want to find out what is relevant to each athlete, and individual variation is significant.

    Anonymous on #8746

    Hi Scott J,

    I’m really interested in the article on Ferritin.

    For several years, I really struggled to stay healthy. Finally I started getting regular blood tests. My Ferritin was below average, and I needed to get iron injections over several months. My iron levels were not low enough to cause anemia, but it was close. Now my iron slowly are higher, but they hover just above what is considered normal. I often wonder if the threshold should be higher for athletes. My health also started to improve drastically when I took once a month vitamin D and B complex injections in the winter, both under supervision of my doctor (my vitamin D and B complex levels were low). You would think it was a diet problem, but I really eat a healthy diet, with very little to no processed foods and refined sugar, and mostly fruits, vegetables, olive oil, yogurt, beans, nuts, and so forth. On the advice of my doctor, I did start to eat more red meat. She said that for some people it’s simply more difficult to absorb iron from plant-sources compared to meat-sources. Anyway, looking forward to the article. Thanks.

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