And I don’t mean whether you fit into a pair of skinnies… although I do know something that might help you there. It isn’t just about running or training at the gym and burning calories. It’s not just about eating ‘healthily’, cutting carbs and having a target with a prescribed training plan based on your availability and work/life balance. It’s about working SMARTER not HARDER.
It’s totally in our gift to find out about how and why OUR body responds in a different way, and by that I mean every individual is different. Did you inherit fantastic speed potential? Do you take less time to recover from a kilometer interval than your club mates? Why is that? Have you ever wondered if you would suit longer distance?
Many runners read inspirational books and go to inspirational talks at Expos and get caught up in the seasonal race entry fever. I can do that, again and again… it’s a great gift being able to run and who should I thank for that? I wanted to find out why I like to run and understand more about what might help me improve – by digging a bit deeper.
I approached Fitness Genes (@FitnessGenes) and they sent me a little kit. A simple DNA test could reveal a labyrinth of information about my personal genetic make-up. Exciting or what!? It was SO simple to do. Just a tiny amount of spit into a vile and I sent this back via the pre-paid pouch back to testing HQ and waited a couple of weeks for the result. I registered on the website and eagerly waited for an email confirmation.
Results are in!
My analytical side was on over-drive – I even spent a whole day checking all 45 different gene results! There is a lot to understand and tempting as it is to put together a whole Powerpoint presentation together on it – for myself, I thought I would focus on the key things which might be useful for me to understand as a runner. The analysis goes into ALL sorts of areas, from how well you metabolize certain chemicals/foods to genes which affect training performance, strength, recovery and how things could change as you age.
I have summarized just some of my results below...
I am an EARLY BIRD! This is good news for most races are morning ones but a lot of my training, aside from week-ends, is in the evening. However some more early runs aren’t out of the question, although I am surprised as I don’t find jumping out of bed to do a pre-work run appealing in the SLIGHTEST!
I recover QUICK! Another genotype more common with endurance athletes but I have TWO copies of the ‘fast lactic acid clearing allele’ meaning I perform higher intensity exercise without inducing muscle fatigue early on. This means my rests do not need to be as long.
I have lactose intolerance! I’ve switched from ordering a cappuccino to a black Americano over the past couple of years and used almond milk in my cereal, convinced milk was causing digestive discomfort as well as flaring up adult acne. Evidence now that I wasn’t going nuts (well unless you count the nut-milk!)
I need to watch my blood pressure, as I have a slightly tendency to get high blood pressure, although my diet is healthy so I’m not too worried about this but I should probably avoid stressful situations.
I metabolize caffeine SLOWLY. This is NOT good news for me as it suggests that I should really limit my caffeine intake to reduce the risk of hypertension or a heart attack!
This could be the result I really didn’t want to see.
I have two copies of the blue eye allele. I have the slightly rarer green eyes despite having two blue eye alleles. Surprising as my mum has brown eyes, as has my sister... it is nice to have my dad's blue eye genes here.
I need to ensure I don’t overdo it on BIG hills. My HIF1A gene could explain why my body has really suffered following very hilly races and my breathlessness on high peaks! I have very recently been prescribed a ventolin inhaler which may help me (doc thinks I have mild asthma.) I need to look after my lungs though – it is etched on my mind that my dad, a non-smoker, died (young) of lung cancer and I need to look after myself.
I need to try and remain active, as many of my genes suggested an inactive lifestyle could lead to obesity, however I also have a lower risk of over eating. I have noticed I put weight on quick when carrying an injury from running. Maybe some alternative exercise options would be useful.
This result has really flicked on a green light of hope, which I needed! This will really help me to amend my planning and approach based on real, absolute data about my body, which is so incentivizing.
I can now move forward with some suggested training and nutrition plans based on my own gene signature. I am excited about the untapped potential in my ‘genetic toolkit’, and I’m particularly interested in my predisposition to endurance, in several genetic areas.
There are nutrition plans carefully put together for me by Fitness Genes and I could opt for as well as a whole library of workout guides for me to choose from.
I’ve avoided the marathon for a couple of years now as I found it very tough setting and actually achieving training targets (paces), as well as dealing with the onset of injury when I peaked and on the day performance. However, this information has given me some confidence in approaching a marathon with an informed approach as well as the knowledge that I have some real endurance capability.
I can now put my mind towards improving my running performance and fitness with some careful planning and better nutrition awareness.
This could be a new chapter of enlightenment.
I will definitely be continuing on this journey and I would totally recommend anyone who wants to approach their training more scientifically OR even just find out more about themselves - this could really help explain a few things!
Unlock your own DNA and make it happen!