A couple of weeks ago, as part of my do-this-properly approach to the next training cycle (also see my Vo2 and thresholed testing post which will follow soon) I got a full set of blood tests done via Medichecks. If you want the juicy info skip to the end and you can see a snippet of the insight I got as a result. If you want to know more about why I bothered and what the process was like, read on…
Check up / reassurance / idiot proofing
While I was pregnant and getting ready to return to running I read a lot about the various health issues you can encounter when running post-partum. While some cannot be diagnosed by blood tests, I wanted to check by at least one route that I’m not inadvertently storing up problems for myself. I’ve not got my period back yet and while that’s not hugely uncommon it’s getting to the point now where I should get it checked out, especially given my history. The hormone check was a really big draw for me in these tests.
Also, I was really good at fuelling well and eating the right things but since things in the early days but since things have become more ‘normal’ I’ve let that slip a bit so I wanted to get a ‘state of things now’ check up. Basically I want to make sure I’m not being an idiot with my body! It’s an investment but one that I’m happy to forgo some coffees to save up for.
Lots of factors can affect athletic performance and I want to cover all bases in this next training cycle and really go for it. I wanted to check if I’m lacking in any key vitamins, that my iron levels are ok etc.
I wanted to get a test before I start the next training cycle because the volume will probably increase a fair bit and I want to have something to measure my health against once that kicks in.
While it’s easy to get caught up in all the latest things on Instragram or wherever when you’re searching for those extra % gains in your training, this one had top athletes associated with it. Top marathoners Aly Dixon and Tracy Barlow, both of who I have a lot of respect for, have used the tests. Aly writes about her experience here. Eilish McColgan, Louise Damen also use them, as does my co-marathon-madness lady Gemma Hockett. So, all in all I was pretty sure it was worthwhile.
Fantastic service from @medichecks Blood sample taken 9.10am Tues with full results & report in my inbox today!— Aly Dixon (@alydixon262) March 29, 2019
Really recommend the endurance fit test to anyone wanting to keep an eye on over 50 vital hormone & blood values to optimise performance 👌🏾💪🏾 https://t.co/Nk62tdu8VE
I decided that I wanted to go for the full set of tests so that I could cover both performance and hormonal health. That meant the ‘ultimate performance’ test. It tests liver and kidney function, proteins, hormones, iron, cholesterol, inflamation markers, thyroid and vitamins. The whole lot. Medichecks say that this is for you if:
you want to establish your pre-transformation baseline for health, hormones and nutrition
you want to track your progress at key stages through your training programme
you want to optimise your endurance, strength and recovery
So that seemed to fit the bill.
I logged onto the Medichecks website and chose my test.
I then had to chose a clinic to go and have the blood taken at. There were loads of options really near work and most were walk-in. I had to make an appointment because of the type of tests and the fact that it had to be done after a 12 hr fast, but I could chose any time I wanted when I rang up.
3. I went along to a really swanky clinic near Marylebone. There were chandeliers and everything - it was like hanging out in a spa. Having had a blood test done only days before on the NHS I can safely say that this was a much more pleasant experience. The clinic then sends the tests off and you wait for the results.
4. In the intervening time I had to log onto the website and fill out a big lifestyle questionnaire about my stress levels, nutrition, what I was looking to find out from the tests etc. This is to help the doctor that analyses the tests.
5. Three days later my results came back. I logged in to check them and was really surprised just how many things were checked and how well explained it all was.
When your results come through you get a big list of green and red dots, you can click into them to get further info and good/bad ranges are clearly indicated. This is just part of mine:
As you’ll see, my cholesterol isn’t great. The particularly good bit about the Medicheck feedback though is that you get a big doctors letter too which explains everything and stops you going to Dr Google to understand the results. For example, I have a low Lymphocyte count, but the report clarifies this saying ‘You have a slightly low lymphocyte count. This is a type of white blood cell involved in fighting viral infections. These can become low following a recent infection. At this level there is no cause for concern. The rest of your white cells are normal.’ Each test area has its own drop down info too, such as an explanation of LDL and Non HDL cholesterol and how they work together. My key takeaways are a vitamin D insufficiency, an ok but on the low end Iron level, the Cholesterol issue and slightly suppressed Prolactin.
I’ve always been very dismissive that vitamin D could be an issue because I’m outside a lot, so it’s really useful to be alerted to this. The Prolactin means I need to be careful about fuelling and stressing the body, but I’m really pleased that my hormones and everything else are all good. The Cholesterol is stressing Mr B out as he eats way worse than me but it has alerted me to a reliance on dairy (and maybe peanut butter?!) though I’ll worry less about that in the context of keeping good fuelling going.
My NHS tests came back just the other day and match these tests (they were basic hormone ones) and it has been really helpful to understand them better through the Medichecks info.
Ok, it isn’t cheap (£199) and to be honest I would have gone for the Endurance Fit one (£149) but I got in touch with Medicheck to explain that I was a mother-runner trying to get back into PB shape and looking to make sure I didn’t damage myself, and they agreed to let me be part of their affiliate scheme. I felt very cheeky asking but they really seemed to understand (thanks Gemma Hockett for encouraging me to just ask). Being part of the scheme means was given the test and I can give you discount on any tests you might want. However, I promise that I am not letting this affect my review in any way. It’s also the only company I’ve tried (because of point 3 above). Now I’ve done it and seen the results, I really do think it’s worth it.
If you would like to try Medichecks you can get 10% off by clicking through the links on this page and using the code “Bland10” at the checkout