Post–Marathon Fatigue and Blood tests

blood test
On one of my longer training runs before my marathon, I had started mentally compiling a list of things that I was looking forward to doing once I had run the darn thing!

  1. Give blood – I really like giving blood but had once naively made the mistake, giving blood 4 days (4 DAYS!!!!) before running a half-marathon. Of course, I didn’t think that I was being stupid at the time. The guidance said that you shouldn’t give blood then do intense exercise in the 24 hours following, so I thought that it would be fine. Are you laughing/rolling your eyes at me? If not, then how about when I tell you that… I almost fell asleep at mile 7. Honestly honestly. I closed my eyes to sleep, while I was running.
  2. Eat icecream
  3. Learn to longboard
  4. Go snowboarding in Tamworth snowdome
  5. Take up surfing again
  6. Go on holiday to Morocco
  7. Not having to be so strict about my diet
  8. Think about doing a triathlon

I like having things to look forward to. Besides, I’d read somewhere that a post marathon slump is common after running your first marathon. I empathised. I used to get the blues after coming back from a short term missions trip. The anticipation as everything gears up around this BIG experience, which is in itself pretty intense. And following that, there’s a nothingness… a vacuum. I’d keep asking, What’s the point?

So, I’m trying out an idea that scheduling things to look forward to once it’s over is KEY to combatting the slump. Even if it is lying in front of the TV for a few days.

I’ve done everything on the list, apart from 1 and 5. (Surfing is in the pipeline for September.)

I gave blood today… for a blood test. It really doesn’t count. Turns out that my ‘I can’t be bothered‘ fatigue may be related to a low iron count or something, as a result of the marathon. One of my friends from the triathlon club suggested that I could be anaemic, which could explain why I am so weary all the time. At that point, I felt pretty happy to accept her explanation. Although, now, the more I consider that I might be anaemic, I’m not sure that I want to be dependent on iron supplements my whole life. Ay-yah, needless worry!

So, I toddle off the the GP to talk about this and my poorly ankle. She’s quite thorough and asks me about my general wellbeing, my periods and do I take naps during the day?

‘Well, I’d like to’, I reply, ‘But it’s a bit difficult because I’m at work.’

She surmises that I probably just need to rest more. And it’s obvious she’s not into running because she suggests that I leave bigger gaps (like I don’t already!) between each run. However, she still prints off the form which I need to take with me to have the blood test done. I wonder, when the results come back, it will be her proof that she’s right. In one sense, that would be really nice. When I’m at the pharmacy, I feel really honoured because they squeeze me in without an appointment. ‘We’re here to help,’ she explains, as I show my appreciation. What I didn’t realise was that there’d be three vials of my blood taken. The blood person in the pharmacy explains to that each vial would check things like my glucose levels, blood count, iron levels… and everything else. Is this what my car, Haribo, feels like when he goes in for his MOT? I have a little chuckle to myself that I’m trying to empathise with a car!

The results are back in 48 hours. Three days from now, my GP can either confirm her opinion about self-diagnosing patients who exercise excessively, or something else. As I’ve said already, it would be really nice if she’s right… but only if my energy picks up.

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Han-Na Cha

English Language Teacher, Academic and Personal Development Skills Trainer, Baker.

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