Well, we all do this, especially when training a lot, like a marathon? Of course, the legs will feel a bit heavy the next day. And covid, all that underlying stress and anxiety saps the energy. And I always had a bit low blood pressure, especially as a teenager, this just happens. Perhaps I’m over training? Why does this feel so hard?

These things went through my head last summer when I found training increasingly getting harder and rest didn’t help. I still did it, but had no push, no power. It was getting weary. I wasn’t ill or anything, I had a healthy appetite and life was generally good. It must have been after a race or a test run when my coach suggested to do a blood test. Initially, I didn’t really want to. I didn’t want to bother the NHS in a pandemic year with the moaning of an amateur athlete not feeling fast enough and the private tests are somewhat pricy, but it got to a point I needed to do something.

So off I went and took a private blood test, which was really straight forward – the result: a pretty well developed anaemia. Apparently, this is fairly common in endurance athletes, more in women than men (due to the menstrual cycle) and can be compounded by diet – but with a big personal variance. In my case, all the iron in the kale, lentils and nuts I was eating hardly touched the sides!  

I booked in with my GP who ran a range of other tests. This is absolutely crucial to find out if there are other underlying causes for the anaemia than diet. I was lucky and it turned out I was stomping fit. A course of hard core iron tablets over three months sorted this out and suddenly I felt like superwoman on epo. I’m not joking.

The take away from this? Anaemia is something that creeps up on you. All the symptoms in isolation are just part of an athlete’s life, they start slowly and it is easy to dismiss them. So if you feel your performance is slipping or just not progressing with the usual input, don’t suffer for months like I did and go and get tested. What is the worst that can happen? That the blood test tells you that you are healthy and just a lazy bastard? Get on with it!


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Comment by Charles Barclay on November 1, 2021 at 18:06

Thank you for sharing this Gesine, it is important to be aware of when we are pushing our bodies in training and something doesn't feel right that we should go get a check up. I can vouch for your new 'superwoman on epo' status after riding in your group at Velo this morning!


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