Two Blood Tests, 6 Months Apart with InsideTracker

In August of last year, I was obviously at a low point. I was in a boot while what felt like the entire city of Chicago was barreling toward peak week in preparation for the marathon in October. I was confined to 6 weeks in a boot and begrudgingly found new ways of cross-training through my injury. My doctor gave me these initial steps to take when we confirmed that I had a stress fracture in a metatarsal in my left foot:

  1. MRI Monday, August 17th – confirmed stress fracture, possible neuroma in between 2-3 metatarsals
  2. Began wearing Aircast Tuesday, August 18th
  3. Bone density scan conducted Wednesday August 19th – confirmed healthy
  4. Began taking 600 mg calcium 2 x a day, 2000 IUs vitamin D 1 x a day on Thursday, August 19
  5. Blood test (Vit D & Ultimate Panel from InsideTracker) scheduled Wednesday, August 26th

I researched InsideTracker a bit before after seeing Julia Webb’s post on her experience. So when they saw my updates on Twitter about my stress fracture and reached out offering a free test, I couldn’t say no (especially because I was so down in the dumps then and wanted to figure out why this darn injury happened).

For anyone that isn’t familiar with the service, InsideTracker provides blood test analytics personalized for you, based on your lifestyle and nutrition factors. I’ve had blood tests in the past but it always seems to fall short — so much of a blood test and its entire process depends on your relationship with your primary doctor and the recommendations he or she may be able to give you based on the results. I’ve independently taken blood tests in the middle of training cycles just to make sure I’m doing everything I can to stay healthy. But I always felt like I needed help to figure out what steps I could take to optimize markers that were either too high or too low. And the recommendations for a runner can often be very different, as compared to an athlete in another sport or a person that doesn’t exercise regularly. (For example, runners often need to pay specific attention to their iron/ferritin levels –and the recommendations for a ‘normal person’ don’t cut it for long distance runners.)

Enter InsideTracker. 

  • Purchase a test.
  • Schedule a blood draw at a local Quest Diagnostics (so quick and easy to do online).
  • Wait 3-5 days for your results to pop up in your InsideTracker account.
  • Implement the recommendations they give you!

….So freaking simple.

Here’s an example of what you will see on your personal dashboard after your results have been received.

Screenshot 2016-03-29 15.46.49

I like the InnerAge component. Based on results for the test I had done in August 2015, I had 6 factors that needed work and 3 that were at risk. The main markers my doctor was interested in and that were specific to my stress fracture were calcium and vitamin D.

Screenshot 2016-03-29 16.10.20

You’ll notice that there are two readings for Vitamin D. I took a second blood test a few weeks ago, so the tests were just over 6 months apart. My Vitamin D is considered to be high both times. My doctor was comfortable with my result in August, so we were able to rule out this deficiency as a factor of my injury. This winter, I consistently supplemented with vitamin D but it appears I was probably overdoing it. Just as InsideTracker recommends, I’ll be reducing the frequency of this supplement (even more so now that my chances of seeing the sun in the morning and evening is higher!)

Screenshot 2016-03-29 16.10.30

My calcium result surprised me. I had only begun to take 600 mg of calcium 2 x a day the week prior to this August blood test. The second test I had done this month did not include Calcium as a biomarker, so I’ll be curious to see where this is at when I do another full panel.

There’s a lot to be said for a service that makes the most important part of the blood testing process extremely simple. I’ve chosen two main goals for optimizing my results: I want to sleep better and boost my energy throughout the day. Based on these goals and the markers that need work, InsideTracker tells me that I should eat more lentils and chia seeds, supplement with garlic and berberine to lower my cholesterol, consume more nuts and drink green tea. These are all things that I feel like I can do. It’s easy to complicate the ways we choose to take care of ourselves. It’s nice to have a solution that dumbs it down for you as an athlete.

And the best news is that they have a new panel that’s designed specifically for endurance athletes: the High Performance Panel. My latest test, this month, was this panel. It includes markers specific to rest, recovery, strength, power and endurance — basically, anything that could help you determine how to improve your running. Out of these markers, I can personally work on optimizing:
  • cortisol
  • vitamin D
  • vit B12
  • Ferritin
  • hs-CRP

I find these factors interesting and I also wonder if the timing of this blood test impacted my blood test results. On Sunday, March 13th, I ran 20 miles. And my blood test was the next afternoon. I’m wondering if specific endurance and inflammation factors would have had different results if I had waited a few days. Something to look into!

The High Performance Panel is half the cost of the Ultimate Panel and specific to markers that endurance athletes should care about. I’m excited about it because the lower price point will allow me to test more often – instead of when I feel like training isn’t going well or when I feel fatigued or low energy.

Screenshot 2016-03-29 16.20.24
If you’re interested in giving InsideTracker a shot, you can use “HPJENNY” when you checkout for the chance to win a free Ultimate panel as a follow-up (It’s worth $499 — and included 30 total biomarkers!) 
– JP