Bad Blood

Soooo approximately 2 hours after my last blog post about the IAU World Trail Champs I got a phone call from my Doc………I had been expecting him to call but perhaps not so soon…..ominous.

Lets take a step back for now. Not sure if you remember but I had in previous blogs grumbled on about feeling pretty fatigued and generally not functioning very well. This had coincided with my 2 week break after my return from Nepal and had basically continued throughout January. This came to head a couple of weeks back when I had a particularly dismal session on the towpath and then a long run on the Sunday where I got past by a tugboat and a tractor. I got back from that run totally wasted…..I was struggling to just jog. For weeks my HR had been massively elevated for every run i did, let a lone sessions. I felt like every run I was pushing but not going anywhere….in fact my easy pace had slowed in pace so significantly I was beginning to worry that that this was it……..I’m old and shit and I should just except the fact. I’m done! I had totally expected to feel rubbish for a few weeks after my break (i generally do) but this had just continued with no glimmer of hope.

After seeing my local GP, who basically told me to stop running so much and eat more (really helpful….thanks/he actually told me to eat a mars bar!! WTF). I decided to see a sports specialist, and boy I am so glad I did.
Dr John Rogers is a well renowned Sports Consultant and works with many top athletes all over the world so if anyone could help he could. After a battery of blood tests (I actually passed out after they took the barrel of blood, I am such a woos and hate anything blood related) the results have now come back. Part of me was relieved that I am not shite after all but the other part had that sinking feeling. My bloods had tested positive for a nasty virus, I was low in a bunch of vits and my immune system was pretty much shot. Ideal for an ultra runner!?

So hear I am trying to better myself….how longs a piece of string, thats the question. Docs orders are one run per day and very specific HR limits, plenty of rest, lots of supplements, lots of fruit and veg, reduce caffeine and alcohol and stop smoking (ha ha…must of been that sneaking cigar I had with Steve Way at Christmas). I have a blood retest next week to see how everything is progressing. This will be my 4th week of running easy and hopefully I can start to up things by the end of the month. I am fully aware that I don’t want to put myself down a massive hole (the sport is littered with burn outs….I don’t want to add to that pile) and so therefore I will do as I am told…..its really a case of listening to my body.

Would be good to hear from any of you who have suffered similar set backs and how you dealt with it. I am sure positive mental attitude will help a great deal……………….



11 thoughts on “Bad Blood

  1. The one experience I had with fatigue was coming back from 10 days of fastpacking in the Sierras (high altitude mountains in California). I knew my hormones were wacky because i’ve been doing a lot of research about hormonal changes in the women’s body at high altitude a lot because it’s such an intriguing subject and I’ve been exposed to high altitude two years in a row and wondered why was my body reacting weirdly. I can’t let my curiosity go easily… A few days after that fast packing trip, I felt a weird fatigue and I knew it was from the trip. My period schedule was messed up which is normal when going up above up and down 10,000ft every single day. I kinda knew that my Fe (Iron) level must be down so I ate a lot more red meat, heme-veggies etc. A few days later, I was better then eventually back to normal.

    I am not at your level of racing :-), however you hit the key point – listen to your body and sounds like you do. I’ve been around many women pro cyclists and amateur women racers who have the same problem during training (including me). It’s very personal, situations differ and we are all unique (body). The toughest part is really asking yourself when to stop and analyze the situation – put together a recovery plan, stick with it and completely heal. It’s very easy to write those advise but very tough to do specially at a pro level specially all the pressures of race schedules.

    You honesty in the blog is inspiring and your motivation for your passion to run is incredible! I love your sense of humor and outlook in training. So, no pressure from a fan to a pro. 🙂 To me, as a fan it’s how a pro deals with set-backs are much more amazing than winning a race itself. Heal fast and get back at it!


    • so lovely to come to your message angela, thank u. yes, i too suffer with hormones all over the place, more so as i have got older. I have also had numerous iron injections,,,,and if i am honest i thought may be my iron was low as the symptoms were similar but infact they are ok. My thyroid levels came back all over the place, low vit D, no LH and worse of all I tested positive for Epstein Barr Virus- basically glandular fever… least i found out soon before digging an even deeper hole. For now i am just running easy daily and juicing the hell out of veg and fruit…..I always thought my diet is good but i realise now that mayb thats just not enough and i need to taker a closer look….oh and wash my hands more :). love to you and Doug…loving your blogs


      • Yeah, I also take blood test twice a year to check on my TSS, Vit D and Ferritin values – in my opinion, those are critical to check specially as a woman get to a more mature age. Your blog post is very rare and not every women talk about this stuff but in fact, it is important whether one is a pro athlete or not. Thanks for sharing and reading these type of post can help others. The cool thing is, once you are over the virus you will be back like a beast! 🙂


  2. Hi Holly, big fan of your blog, always gives me something to think about, even though I don’t really like running that much (I’m a reluctant trail runner, I started in an effort to get fit for ski mountaineering).
    I’m currently doing my best to mend a broken shoulder I was given for Christmas, it’s not the best present I’ve ever received because it meant that the hard work I’d put in on the trails over the summer and the physical gains that I’d made wouldn’t get put to use this winter… I had a lot of plans for some nice long days out in the mountains, some big traverses and things, and even though the shoulder is healing nicely most of these plans will have to be put on hold until next year now.
    But it’s difficult to get upset about the whole thing because, for a start, getting upset changes very little, if anything it only makes a problem worse, and secondly it just provides an opportunity to learn how to overcome another challenge (it’s not as though we aren’t given enough of them already in day-to-day life, but a little more adversity never hurt anyone!).
    It’s given me the chance to reflect on the things that really matter, it’s made me a lot more appreciative of the network of people around me who are willing to help out in tough times, and it’s cemented into place quite firmly my long-held view that no matter how bad a day, or week, or month you are having, there is always someone on the planet who is having a tougher time than you.
    That’s not to say that we should make light of or belittle our own problems, because it’s a real kick in the head when we are faced with something that stops us from doing what we love, but I believe that episodes such as these can help us value those things even more.

    It’s a battle, sure, but in a way it’s a fun one to fight. Best of luck to you, and just keep thinking of that day in the future when it’ll all be behind you.


  3. Hope you’re feeling better soon and back to it Holly! I’m just a slow recreational runner but after a couple of weeks of not running because of a heavy dose of the lurgy last month I was climbing the walls, so goodness knows how you’re feeling! Here’s to a speedy recovery!


    • thanks Steve, yes its rubbish but have to think about all the good things in life! hope you are feeling better now! get those fruits and veggies in….oh and a little hot toddy can often do the trick!


      • Of course I don’t. I thought as much. I ran 80km of 160km (whilst winning)with acute pericarditis that I didn’t know I had – all downhill since then – although escaped serious consequence – left with some myocardial scarring – sucks arse really. Finding adventure elsewhere at the moment – diving, free diving, spearfishing, writing again, mountaineering. I miss running alot though.


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