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Monthly Archives - March 2017

Jason Schlarb – “As Hard as A Rock!”

Jason Schlarb

“As Hard As A Rock!”

A broad smile, tanned face, and that classic 80’s ‘mullet’ confirms (if I had any question) that I am sharing a table with Jason Schlarb. We are on our second ‘Imperial’ and the Costa Rican sun is beating down on us.

“Dude, I have just loved being in Costa Rica. This race, The Coastal Challenge has a Hardrock feel to it. ya know what I mean, it’s laid back, small, homely, uncluttered – I have just loved it!”

Jason Schlarb has just placed 3rd at the 2017 ‘TCC’ (The Coastal Challenge) and he may well have been 2nd had he not made a navigational error on day 1 and thus throwing away vital time.

Jason Schlarb is chilled though, it’s early in the season and having just come off skis, he’s happy with his form. “You know what, I am stoked by this race and I already want to come back next year but in shape. Let me clarify, I am in shape, I am fit, but I am not 100% run fit. To win this race and to run at the pace that Tom has set (Tom Owens from the UK won the race), I would need to be in Hardrock shape, but that is possible.”Jason Schlarb - “As Hard as A Rock!”

Costa Rica is not a new environment for Jason, he has spent many a year here with family. The place, the ‘Pura Vida’ approach to living is something that he digs. It takes little adjusting. Living in the San Juan mountains draws parallels, not in temperature or humidity, but in approach to life, the landscape, and the environment. Jason and his family love the open spaces and Costa Rica feeds that hunger.

“Winning Hardrock 100 alongside Kilian Jornet was a highlight of my career and yes, I will be back this year to see if I can do it again. That course holds something so special and like I have said, the parallels and similarities with Costa Rica are uncanny.”

Jason has very much paved the way for US-based ultra runners and yet, he still, in my opinion, floats a little under the radar. Less so after Hardrock 100 in 2016, but Jason has been killing it year-on-year. He is one of the few Americans to make the top-5 at UTMB, he’s won Run Rabbit Run and in and amongst this, he’s regularly listed a stunning set of palmares.

Jason has even skied the Hardrock 100 course – a first, along with his fellow ski-mountaineers, Scott Simmons, Paul Hamilton and filmmaker, Noah Hamilton. Jason is not an experienced ski mountaineer but like many mountain runners, he transitioned as a way to stay fit and explore in winter months. Of course, living in the San Juan made the process easier but it was still a huge undertaking and one that he conquered – a sign if we needed one of the man’s ability and class.

With 2017 well underway and the prospect of racing Zach Miller and Kilian Jornet at Hardrock 100, I wondered what the year would hold for him, what challenges lie ahead?

Hardrock

“I am returning to La Palma in May and I am running Transvulcania. That island and that course is quite magical and I think I can have a great day there. Timing is perfect for Hardrock and therefore it’s a race that i can do 100% and still be able to recover.”

Transvulcania has become a bucket list race for many a mountain/ trail runner. Way back in 2012, the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) elevated that race to a new level and it has grown and grown. Now, it is considered one of the ultimate races to do.

“I will go back to Chamonix in the summer but no UTMB, I will do one of the shorter races such as CCC and then my big target to end the year will be going to Reunion Island and tackling the super-tough Diagonale des Fous (aka Raid de la Reunion) which is just an ultimate mountain journey.”

It’s a balanced year and one that Jason could excel at. In current ultra running circles, it’s almost reserved and restrained?

“I am learning that as I get older and races get faster, that less is more. There are so many races now that it’s just not possible to do them all and more importantly, do them all well. I may squeeze another race in here or there but in principle, I want to pick and choose and race to my potential.”

“Diagonale des Fous comes at a good time,” I joke. “You will be able to recover and then pick up your training and be ready with all guns blazing for Costa Rica and the 2018 edition of TCC!”

“Is my plan so obvious…?”

Jason laughs and as another ‘Imperial’ is drained to the bottom of the bottle, I know that at several points this year, we will be raising full bottles and toasting success as Jason once again sets the bar high in the world of mountain, ultra, trail and Skyrunning.

Credit ©iancorless.com

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Iron Deficiency Anemia

Iron Deficiency Anemia : What Athletes Need to Know

By Amy Tribolini, MS, RD, LD

Iron deficiency anemia can break down even the toughest competitors and it is more prevalent than you may think.  Approximately 10 million people in the United States are iron deficient and 5 million suffer from iron-deficiency anemia.

While mild anemia can go overlooked within the general population, it can have a significant impact on performance in athletes.  It is definitely valuable to be informed of early warning signs of a deficiency and understand what your options are.

The diagnosis of iron-deficiency anemia may not be more common in athletes vs. non-athletes, but data shows that athletes are more likely to overlook or confuse the symptoms.

Does Running Increase my Chance of Getting Anemia?

Running and high levels of physical activity do not necessarily increase your chance of becoming anemic, but it may cause you to overlook the symptoms longer and neglect to seek treatment.

High-level endurance athletes, such as ultra-marathoners and triathletes, are at an especially high risk of overlooking iron-deficiency anemia because they tend to shrug off some of the common symptoms, such as: muscle burning, shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue, and increased frequency of respiratory illnesses.  Because of the stress and fatigue that can naturally coincide with the rigors of training for extreme endurance events, symptoms of iron-deficiency can easily be confused with symptoms of overtraining.

How Does Your Iron Level Effect Running?

Iron plays an imperative role in transporting oxygen to muscles.  Hemoglobin, the primary transport system for both oxygen and blood in the body, is largely composed of iron.  If you want your metabolism to function normally and your muscles to receive oxygen, you must maintain an adequate level of iron.

In a healthy athlete, regular exercise increases red blood cell mass and plasma volume.  These natural adaptations lead to heightened oxygen delivery and potentially enhanced performance.  In an athlete with iron-deficiency anemia, these adaptations do not take effect as efficiently and the athlete may struggle harder to perform at their baseline activity level.

iron-deficiency

I’m a Healthy Athlete, How Could I Have Iron Deficiency Anemia?

There is a strange phenomenon known as foot-strike hemolysis that some runners may experience.  What this literally means is that red blood cells are being destroyed during exercise.  The theory behind this is that the capillaries in the feet are being compressed from the foot strike and this results in red blood cells being physically damaged.  While this phenomenon has been scientifically documented, it does not account for a huge drop in red blood cells; and often times cannot be detected on a routine blood test.

Another explanation is simply diet.  Athletes are often times particular about their diet and may omit certain foods or food groups in hopes of meeting their race weight or performing better.  If high iron foods have been largely omitted from the diet, it is understandable that iron deficiency will occur.

How Can I know if My Iron Levels are Low?

If you feel healthy and have not been having any difficulty training at your normal level, you would not necessarily benefit from undergoing screening for iron deficiency.  Often times, it is difficult to get insurance to pay for screening if there are not documented symptoms of deficiency.

If you have been experiencing decreased energy, weakness, shortness of breath, headaches, lightheadedness, or an unusual drop in your athletic performance, these are not symptoms to overlook or train through.  The simplest way to identify iron-deficiency anemia is to go to your primary care physician and have labs drawn.

What If My Iron is Low?

If you have low iron levels or have been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia, it will be important to first discuss treatment options with your physician.  Your physician may prescribe a supplement to treat your specific level of deficiency but it will also be important to start incorporating high-iron foods into your diet to prevent this from happening again in the future.

What are Some High Iron Foods to Choose?

There are two forms that iron comes in: heme and non-heme.  Animal products such as beef, chicken, oysters, turkey, and eggs are examples of foods high in heme iron.  Non-heme iron can be found in foods like beans, tofu, lentils, spinach, peanut butter, and brown rice.  Your body can benefit from either type or both as long as it is getting adequate amounts.

If you want to boost the amount of iron your body absorbs from these high-iron foods, pair them with fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C.  Vitamin C is known to increase the absorption of iron and allow it to be more readily absorbed.

Iron Deficiency Anemia

References:

Miller, J. L. (2013). Iron Deficiency Anemia : A Common and Curable Disease. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine, 3(7).

Zielińska-Dawidziak, M. (2015). Plant Ferritin—A Source of Iron to Prevent Its Deficiency. Nutrients, 7(2), 1184-1201.

About the Author:

Amy Tribolini currently works as both a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Professor. She lives, trains, and competes as an ultra-runner out of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Amy specializes in fueling endurance athletes, athletic performance, and plant-based diets. Amy holds both a Bachelors Degree in Dietetics and a Masters Degree in Human Nutritional Science from the University of Wisconsin

Instagram- @ultrarunningdietitian

Email contact: [email protected]

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