By Barb Bryan, BSc(Pharmacy), BSc(Nutrition) APA PRESCRIBING RIGHTS

When it comes to our general health and our specific athletic goals some baseline numbers are helpful to know. I’m not talking about heart rate, GPS watch or power meter numbers – even though these are important too – I’m talking about those you get from a baseline blood work panel …  (YES, there will be a needle involved and a few vials of the red stuff ☺ )

Many of us look to blood work ONLY when we are feeling off, injured or outright sick. However, when we do this we don’t have a healthy baseline to compare the values against. If certain numbers are abnormal then how do we know if they just became abnormal or if it’s always been that way? The other issue is when we do get our blood work done, many of us just “hope for the best” and most of the time we take the attitude that “no news is good news” – a very passive approach to our health. We must take a more active role in our own healthcare. Two of the most powerful things we can do to take charge of our well-being and perform at our peak capacity is to request a copy of our blood work and discuss the results with a preventative health expert. This will allow us to become educated about our optimal unique numbers and why they are important. Its all about knowledge and prevention!

Our blood work is one of many important pieces that affect our individual health puzzle. Like the old saying goes, “One shoe does not fit all”, nor does a therapeutic number range on a chemistry panel. We never treat the numbers, rather, we treat the specific patient. Being at the low-end of the normal range may be okay for an inactive person but probably would be sub-par or deficient for an athlete training and hoping to accomplish an ultramarathon or a full Ironman. Since the build season is in full swing, I thought this would be a great opportunity to plant the seed that this “Pre-season” time could be used to establish a baseline of how the body is doing without the impact of a high training load.

Some basic health numbers we should be aware of would be iron status, complete blood count, thyroid panel, A1C%, Vit B12, lipid panel, electrolytes and kidney/liver function. This is not a comprehensive list but having this information would let us know our current health status and if adjustments are required before increasing our training load. This simple process along with an annual physical can help keep your motor humming and do wonders for longevity and athletic performance.

So team up with your family Doctor at your annual checkup or with a close family Pharmacist who can collaborate with your doctor and have a baseline blood work panel done. Get familiar with your numbers and know what each of them means in terms of YOUR health and YOUR goals. Find out where you are at and clear the path for training into the winter and spring. If you have pre-existing medical conditions and/or are taking prescription medications then this can be a more extensive process and you should check with a member of your healthcare team.