Friday, June 20, 2008

Iron Rations

Less than 24 hours to go. My legs still feel tired and I had another bad nights' sleep, despite the energetic rounders tournament last night. (I have to say that I am definitely more cut out for running than rounders - that little ball hurts when you try to catch it...and fail)

I actually believe I am also nervous and excited about my first fell-running race. I now have all the fancy kit - the Salomon shoes just brilliant and I have finally worked out how to use my Nokia N82 GPS phone. The camera on it is dead easy to use and it has 5 megapixels, which is pretty amazing for a mobile phone. I am looking forward to getting some good shots of the run if it is not raining too hard. I have also bought myself a fancy running backpack for all the compulsory kit and iron rations you have to carry with you.

Talking of iron, I think my legs might also be tired because I have not been eating enough of the stuff this week. Not many women are aware of this, but pre-menopausal women from the age of about 11 to 49 need almost twice the amount of iron per day than men - about 14.8 as opposed to 8.7 mg for men (11.3 for 11-18 yr old boys). And women who exercise need even more because iron stores are depleted when you exercise. People like Paula Radcliffe need to be really vigilant about iron in their diet - apparently Paula not only has a supply of Cadbury's chocolate - a good source of iron - shipped out to her training base in America, but she also uses a supplement and eats red meat, the best source of iron, at least three times a week (including ostrich and venison). This picture was taken by John Hardy, a friend and Consultant Specialist in Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery (luckily I haven't had to use his professional services yet!) and photographer extraordinaire - I think it was the 2006 Bristol 1/2 marathon.

Although I have been trying my best to keep up my iron intake this week (hence the steak and the lamb), I am wondering whether I need some more. I made myself some porridge (with unrefined organic oats...much tastier) this morning and drizzled over two or three spoons of molasses, which has a high iron content. Vitamin C is an 'iron enhancer', so I had 1/2 a grapefruit to help my body absorb the iron more easily. I have not yet decided what to make tonight for my pre-race meal, but it will definitely involve pasta. And I will keep on munching at the 70% chocolate...full of iron and very yummy. Mark and the boys are going canoeing/camping down the Wye Valley for the weekend, so they will certainly need some sustenance considering the grotty weather forecast.

I am writing another article for the Sunday Times aboutdifferent types of iron and women who exercise, including some iron-rich recipe ideas, so more of this later.....


melissa said...

I look forward to your article - I found this site from the last Style article and I particularly need to keep an eye on my iron levels. I don't/can't eat red meat but luckily I adore spinach and lentils, so if I really need a boost I make saag aloo (sometimes with sweet potatoes, though hardly authentic!) and daal for dinner.

Jackie said...

I like Paula's idea of the Cadbury chocolate - great way to get some iron. Happy running!