Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thoughts on Avoiding Fatigue

The last couple of years it seems that come November I begin to feel more fatigued than usual. It’s impossible to measure energy and we’re left with a vague subjective evaluation, but it’s really seemed unquestionable for me recently. Also, this year after I returned from skimo world’s in Europe I just seemed to be dragging.

So what’s going on? I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

The Nov. fatigue in part could be due to ramped up training with more interval and quality sessions, but I suspect there’s another factor in play. One of my perpetrators I’m beginning to believe is a vitamin D deficiency. This essential vitamin (actually it`s a hormone, not vitamin) that we manufacture with our skin via sun exposure is sorely lacking in my Canadian northern climate. They say that our weekly requirements can be met with :30 min of bare arm skin exposure. Something I’d never do from Nov - April. Another way we apparently get vit. D is through our eyes. Bright sunlight taken in through the eyes gives us a workable amount of this vitamin, and it also stimulates the brain with melatonin production that aids our sleep and helps the travelling athlete acclimate to time zone changes (thanks to Tam the speed skating queen for tipping me off on this one). Of course the new trend is to never let our eyes be exposed to the sun so we wear expensive sunglasses. Perhaps we should wear the eyewear in the summer to protect our eyes from overdosing on UV light and resulting cataracts, but in the winter, let your eyes breathe!

Most young people get Vit D through fortified milk, but I don’t drink a whole lot of milk which probably puts me in Calcium and D deficit. (Maybe that’s why I broke my finger this year during a really small fall on skis). What we need to supplement with is called vitamin D3. In the winter we can need as much as 1-5,000 IU per day. One should take some blood tests to find out where you`re at because overdosing with vit D can be bad....real bad. According to one source I read your blood level should be 60-80 ng-ml.

It also sounds like proper amounts of D are necessary for vit B12 and iron absorption. Of course, low iron will decrease your blood carrying capacity (clearly slowing down the aerobic athlete). It doesn`t take too much to get those iron levels back up. Some red meat, Cream of Wheat is especially good (2 servings- a normal size = 60% daily need). Absorption is the key though, and low D may contribute to this problem. I also read that caffeine can impede iron absorption so coffee and tea shouldn't be consumed within an hour of a meal.

It seemed like I was racing much faster earlier in the season, but just kept getting slower. Next year I`m going to try to monitor my vit D levels more closely.