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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Why runners should drink orange juice for breakfast?

Vitamin C not only keeps colds at bay. You’ll absorb three times as much iron from your cereal and toast if you switch from coffee to orange juice with breakfast.

As many endurance athletes I have been following typical high-carbs, low-fat runner’s diet that often includes little or no red meat. Only recently I learned that red meat contains type of iron that is better absorbed than iron from plant sources.  Women need about 15 milligrams and men require 10 milligrams of iron a day. Low iron intake may be responsible for iron-deficiency that can cause a reduction of a hemoglobin level.

What about these punishing intervals to increase VO2Max we do as part of marathon training? They increase blood volume that often can cause a decrease of hemoglobin concentration. Additionally, red blood cells break down as a result of impact when a foot hits the ground. "Foot-strike hemolysis" is potentially a problem for heavier marathoners who run high mileage on hard surface. Decrease in hemoglobin level impacts performance due to reduced ability of cardiovascular system to transport oxygen to the muscles.

My training log for New York Marathon in 2011 reminded me recently of my speed workouts at the pace I can't do today. My maximum heart rate is dropping only one beat per minute per year, but my ability to sustain speed has decreased disproportionately faster. Is it time to check the hemoglobin level, or maybe start eating red meat, or alternatively start drinking OJ for breakfast to shave off few precious minutes from the finish time?

Run strong ... and keep an eye on your iron!


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