Last summer, right before all of my injuries starting coming on, I noticed a company on Twitter called InsideTracker. I was in a place with my running where I was more or less plateauing, so I was intrigued to hear about a service that might help me get to “the next level” of training. (Spoiler alert: I was actually just overtraining and hadn’t recovered enough from Boston. Had I found InsideTracker earlier, I might have been able to recognize overtraining symptoms before things got out of control. You live and learn, right?)
The concept of InsideTracker was relatively simple: you sign up…you get your blood drawn…you fill out a thorough survey that asks you detailed questions about your activity level and diet…your blood results are emailed to InsideTracker, whose technology takes the results and measures them up against your unique “biomarkers,” garnered from that in-depth survey I mentioned. Then, InsideTracker provides dietary, nutritional, and lifestyle suggestions to improve performance and health and get your systems firing at 100%, or at their “optimal” level.
It isn’t a diet or a fancy weight-loss system; rather, it’s a technology that provides advice based on very unique and personalized measurements. And, like most things in life, the new-found knowledge is worthless unless you are willing to make conscious changes in the way you eat/sleep/train.
Bottom line: I was skeptical. A blood test is a blood test. How could InsideTracker be any different from a test my doctor could take?
I finally pulled the trigger and signed up for InsideTracker this summer, and I saw just how big of a difference there was between the InsideTracker blood draw versus my doctor’s.
When I was diagnosed with a femoral stress reaction in May, my doctor took a handful of tests. All results came back “normal” except for my vitamin D levels. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, so the deficiency made sense. I was also tested for a myriad of other elements, such as calcium, iron, and B12. But while all tests might have been reported to me as “normal” for a non-active regular person; it didn’t necessarily mean that my levels were optimized to support my training and racing routine. I thought the doctor’s results were helpful, but I still had questions, and I knew InsideTracker would give me the info and guidance to have my questions answered from an athletic perspective.
Deciding To Sign Up
I waited 3 months before being retesting my blood with InsideTracker. In that timeframe, I started taking a vitamin D/calcium supplement. I also continued taking a women’s active multivitamin, fish oil, and a small amount of liquid iron supplement. I also took 9 weeks off from running to heal my stress reaction, and I increased my activity of yoga, aqua jogging, ellipticalling, and biking. When I started up running again, the progress was very slow and modest.
My return-to-running had been steady for about a month before I signed up for my first InsideTracker blood draw. I had just PRed in my 10k the weekend prior, so I was starting to feel fit and fast again (thank god). My coach also suggested that the best time to get a blood tested is when you’re feeling your best. –It’s good to see where your levels are (even if they’re not perfect), so if you start feeling crappy, you can get another test to try to identify what’s going on.
There was a short checklist of things I needed to do (or not do) prior to my test:
- No working out – I had a light recovery run scheduled for the day prior to my test. At the time, I was taking my rest days pending how I felt on a day-by-day basis; so I wasn’t sure when my next rest day would be. I asked my InsideTracker rep, Jonathan (who is AMAZING and so helpful, by the way), if a light recovery run would be okay, and he said yes. -Check!
- No food 12-hours before the test – I scheduled my test for 9 AM, so it wasn’t too bad to eat a big dinner and then completely stop eating by 9 PM. -Check!
- No alcohol 12-hours before the test – I don’t drink that often, but I accidentally scheduled the test for the morning after my wine and cheese club…UGH. This was a true test of self control, but I managed to go to wine and cheese club and only have one teeny tiny sip of Rosé. -Check!
- Complete a survey on Inside Tracker that would indicate where my optimal blood levels would be once the results came through. The survey was broken up into sections: General (the basics…height, weight, etc.), Lifestyle (do you smoke/drink?…are you willing to take supplements?), Nutrition (how frequently do you eat certain types of meat or veggies?…how many cups of coffee do you drink?), and Fitness (what types of exercise do you do and how frequently?…what are your average running paces for workouts?). The survey seemed to be pretty detailed, and it took me about 15-20 minutes to complete. -Check!
I got a good night’s sleep, and by the time 9 AM rolled around the next morning, I was ready to rumble!
Getting the test done was easy and convenient: I visited the closest Quest Diagnostics facility near me, signed in, and waited only a few minutes before my draw. The only downside was the 9 VIALS OF BLOOD that needed to be taken. Yikes.
The upside is that I didn’t pass out (!!) from the 9 vials and I happily skipped out of the office, excited to get my results within a few days.
My results were ready 3 days later and I was eager for answers. Which tests were taken? What would my blood say about me? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?! Stay tuned to find out and to see just how much I’ve learned and how InsideTracker has helped my running!