“There’s raisons for everything and currants for cakes” (old Irish saying)

“Danny! If we keep going at this pace I’m going to f*****g die!!!” I then yanked back the tether (shoe string) that linked us like an Oklahoma cowboy reigning in an unruly steer.

This was me at the 2017 Great Manchester Run 10k and Danny was a visually impaired runner that I’d guided many times. Usually it was Danny urging me to slow down on runs, now the (running) shoe was on the other (runner’s) foot. He had definitely progressed in his running but something was going on with me. I had no bloody stamina.

Danny with a knackered MC following the 2017 Great Manchester Run 10k

I traced the issue back to about a month following the Manchester Marathon 2016. My times dipped and I wasn’t feeling it but I just rationalised it as being the aftereffects of two marathons plus training reasonably close together. Over the remainder of the year the times continued to fall and I found myself pacing down the order at parkrun and ‘taking it easy’ more.

The nadir came with the 10k. The plan was to pace Danny to his first sub 50 but he ended up literally dragging me, his bloody guide, over the line in 53 minutes. The blind leading the absolutely, totally knackered. I felt terrible and embarrassed. I’d held back an in form runner because I couldn’t cut the mustard. I went home and that night seriously considered ditching running altogether, I felt that low.

The turning point came a month later when I finally went to the doctors. He took a full blood count then called me back in the following week. Bracing myself for bad news, I’m a natural pessimist, I awaited his assessment.

“Michael.”

“Yes” (da-dum-da-dum-da-dum)

“Your vitamin B12 is low and your iron is very low.”

There it was. There was the problem. I had iron deficiency and that’s why I was knackered during runs. It wasn’t a bad year, it was medical. He immediately prescribed iron and B12 supplements to boost my flagging levels and told me to increase my intake of red meat, green vegetables and other iron rich foods. I went out with friends a few nights later and one tried to ply me with stout, purely for medicinal purposes.

The change was gradual but the trajectory was positive. I went to Australia and the Far East on a family holiday and whilst away I ran four parkruns naked (without my watch, not in the buff) and when the emails arrived the times, though not amazing, were headed in the right direction.

On my return from The Antipodes I took part in some of the remaining Prestwich AC championship races and felt much better. I began to enjoy races again.

2018 has been some running year for me. I am by no means the fastest around but I’ve blasted PBs (PRs for United Staters) across the board from 5k up to Marathon. From wanting to chuck it in altogether 18 months previously to my current place pleases me no end.

The iron and B12 are now at normal levels thankfully so the supplements are long a thing of the past, fingers crossed. Further (invasive) investigation found nothing untoward and regular monitoring blood tests are all that is required of me going forward. It’s puzzling as to why it occurred but I’m probably just the human version of my old Ford Fiesta that used to burn oil for no apparent reason. God I loved that car.

I’m not usually one to impart advice but should you feel that something is up then get it checked out quickly. Don’t be stupid like me, but I am a man after all and we do have previous.

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