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Double "F": Ferritin and Fatigue

**WE have seen it many times. Athletes, especially women, start to fatigue at the end of the season. Cyclists and runners starting to wonder..why do I feel the way I do. I have NOTHING".

Look closer. It may not be training or over training (overtrained or under rested?) it may be that you have low Ferritin (iron reserves in your body). Women who are long course runners and triathletes are particularly susceptible. You may ask what's "normal". Every athletes normal is like someones HR. It's really just you and your iron stores and how YOU respond to that number. Some endurance athletes can get by with a Ferritin of 20 ng/ml. Some need 30 ng/ml. For the average person normal typically is 12-300 nanograms per milliter (ng/ml) for men and 12-150 ng/ml for women.

Lately I have seen some numbers approaching low teens for women. That's pretty low. I have noticed that there is a performance drop. Questions for our athletes are, irritability, weakness, fatigue and minor aches. The best way to research for coaches is to dig into the rest/training micro and macro cycles. If the athlete is reasonably rested the signs above may mean a blood test is needed. 

Additional thoughts are that GP's don't necessarily understand the needs of an endurance athlete. NORMAL sometimes is low or below normal. Good sport dietitians can assist in ways to off set the issues with low ferritin. Many athletes are really good about training, training plans, rest and more. Most ignore the iron and ferritin levels in there body. We suggest a couple of blood tests a year as part of your training plan. 


(**Please note this is my experience as a coach. Please refer to your doctor and dietician for additional information)

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