Last year, when I was training for the London Marathon, I was tired. ALL THE TIME. I’m more than aware that marathon training is tough, but I’ve trained a lot and I know the difference between being overtrained or run down, and something being wrong. And something was wrong.
I was a regular at morning yoga and spin classes but, when my alarm went off, I just couldn’t get up. I wasn’t just a bit sleepy, I really couldn’t get up. After I had finished my long run at the weekend I had to go straight back to bed again. It wasn’t normal for me.
Doctors. They just didn’t get it. They told me to rest. But I didn’t just ‘need a rest’ because I know my body can cope (usually). After demanding a blood test, they simply told me everything was ‘normal’. But they never gave me the details of those results.
A couple of weeks ago I went for a private blood test with Werlabs which meant I got a full analysis of absolutely everything.
Who are Werlabs?
Werlabs are a service that uses blood testing to help you monitor your health and understand what’s going on inside your body. The beauty of this test is that, not only is it quick and easy, the results are ready in 48 hours and you can access them in an online journal.
What do they test?
Their main package consists of 44 separate analyses broken down into different risk categories:
1. Cardiovascular Disease
This looks at your total cholesterol level and how much good and bad cholesterol you have. In all honesty, I’ve never worried too much about my cholesterol, but my results showed that, whilst I am safely in the ‘healthy’ range, it’s heading towards the higher end so may be something to be aware of. On the plus side, they made it clear I’m not at risk of CV disease at the moment!
This checks your glucose levels to look at your risk of developing diabetes. I was all clear on this front which was good because I’m sure I have way more sugar than I should!
3. Full Blood Count
A whole range of things are measured in this section including platelets, and the volume and size of red and white blood cells. This can show up issues such as anemia, long-standing inflammation, and the ability to form blood clots.
I was pleased to see a higher than average haemoglobin level because this is what absorbs and releases oxygen and carries it from the lungs to the body’s tissues. Just what runners need!
4. Inflammation and Immune System
This measures your levels of a protein in the blood called ‘C-reactive protein’ which shows general levels of inflammation in the body. It’s important to test this because it identifies infections and diseases causing inflammation, such as:
- Diseases of the immune system
- Swelling of blood vessels in the head and neck
- Swelling and bleeding of the intestines
- Bone infection
A combination of things are tested:
- Iron – important in the formation of red blood cells and needed for energy metabolism, this helps our muscles and organs work correctly
- Ferritin – this is the primary way our body stores iron absorbed from our food, the amount of ferritin in your blood indicates the amount of iron stored in your body
- Transferrin – the main protein in the blood that binds to the iron absorbed from food and transports it throughout the body
Low iron levels are fairly common in female runners and cause, among other things, tiredness, so I wasn’t really surprised that, whilst I was in the ‘normal’ range, I was right at the bottom of it. I was also in the red zone for transferrin saturation which means I am likely to have an iron deficiency – it explains a lot!
6. Liver and Kidneys
A range of enzymes, protein, potassium and salt levels are tested to check if the liver and kidneys are working correctly and to detect early damage or risk of disease.
Potassium results, my reading is the red dot
7. Vitamins and Minerals
- Folic Acid (B9) – an important growth factor required for cell division
- Magnesium – plays a role in metabolism and can only be absorbed from food
- B12 – maintains the functions of your nervous system and can also only be absorbed from food
The thyroid is a gland that produces hormones that are released into the blood to stimulate growth and metabolism, it has a direct effect on our energy levels and overall wellbeing. Three types of thyroid hormones are tested to determine how effectively the thyroid is working and if it’s over or under active.
Why is this test good?
What I loved most about Werlabs is that each analysis is explained in easy-to-understand language, with a clear explanation of why it has been tested. It also clearly explains what it means if you are too high or too low on the scale. On top of this, a doctor goes through all of your results and gives you a personal analysis of your current state of health.
How does it work?
To take the test you simply need to visit the Werlabs website and select the blood test you want. You then just take your confirmation email to one of their testing locations in London or Manchester for your blood test (many of these are walk-in, I went to St Thomas Hospital and only waited for 5 minutes) and you will receive a text message as soon as the results are available online.
The full test is quite expensive at £125 but there are cheaper options if you just want to test something specific. If you’re keen, you can get a 20% discount using code GRUNC20.
I have been genuinely impressed by the whole Werlabs experience and found the level of results fascinating. I make an effort to keep myself fit and healthy so I’ve never worried too much about my general health, however this experience has highlighted that, if there was something to worry about, I probably wouldn’t even know until it was too late.
It’s safe to say I’ve learned a lot from this and is definitely something I would do again.
Werlabs kindly invited me to try out their service, as always, all opinions are my own.