Rowers, if your parents don’t get blog notifications, PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH THEM!!! One issue that has come up a LOT in my coaching career, especially with young women, is the effect of low iron levels. The nature of our sport and the volume of training, plus the early starts can have a profound effect on the athletes and one of the major concerns is iron levels. It’s a tough reality to see a crew’s performance adversely affected by something so easily remedied…and I have seen it happen! When I was in NZ, we tested for this twice annually and invariably, at least a half dozen or more rowers would have test levels come back low, and in some cases, very low.
Low iron levels are VERY easy to fix, but the issue is that it does take time to do it….2-3 months on average, although it can take longer for more severe deficiency. The jury is still out on how long it can take, but suffice to say, if there’s a problem, it’s not fixable by tomorrow! It can be remedied over time through an increase in iron rich foods, and in more acute cases, doctors can prescribe iron pills.
I will also add the disclaimer that this is not mandatory, but a good suggestion and in the end , the sphere of influence of the coaches obviously does not extend to medical and health issues. It’s the choice of parents and athletes to take the step to consult the family doc. But in my experience, sometimes the February Blahs are more than just the February Blahs….and taking care of it early is a great start on a successful season!