a naturopathic doctor’s personal guide to completing a triathlon

Triathlon training

This blog post is more of a race report then examination of specific naturopathic therapies.  It does however reflect the use of naturopathic treatment and philosophies in athletic training, specifically mine.


Issue:  Fatigue, worsened by exercise, low ferritin, low iron,  low transferring saturation

Goal: to compete in an olympic distance triathlon representing Canada in the age group world championships (1.5k swim, 40km bike, 10km run)

Therapy:  Vitamin IV, Immune 7, vitamin C, Proferrin, Ferrum Phos tissue salt, fish oil & curcumin

Outcome:  fantastic race

Nothing should conjure motivation more than an “A” race for which you have ample time to train (+1 year), are traveling internationally for, race on the exact same route as did the London Olympics and has you wearing a signature one piece emblazoned with the Canadian flag and your name.  This however didn’t seem enough to get me out the door let alone in the pool or on the bike.

For reasons I wasn’t sure, I felt unable to run more then 20min, couldn’t muster an easy enough gear on the bike to go up the slightest bit of incline and became so slow in the pool I was forever cold. T-6months.  No problem.  It will pass. Cute dog in bed

Only it didn’t pass.  It may not have worsened but it certainly didn’t improve, especially with inward self talk that went from “it’s ok” to “what’s wrong with you, push through!” plus some more disparaging words I won’t go into.

So I treated myself as I would any one of my patients.  I assessed my current issues, detailed my goals and outlined some potential options.  I started first with checking some blood markers, in particular those related to iron since that is  what transports oxygen throughout the body and impairments of, often result in fatigue among many other symptoms.  I assessed my storage iron (Ferritin), blood iron levels (serum iron), the ability of my iron to be transported in my blood (Total Iron Binding Capacity TIBC), the amount of iron being transported through my blood (transferring saturation) and the molecule that transports the iron (transferrin). To my dismay yet also to my delight they all showed to be low.  I now had a bulls eye to aim at. Well, a partial bullseye.

What might have been the most important part of my evaluation however were my goals.  By focusing on concrete and general goals I was able to delineate them once again. I feel they are always loosely there, tethering me as I navigate my day and life however writing them down once in a while helps to polish them, brings them from obscurity, so I know to just what I am navigating towards and what it is I am tethered to.

This exercise reinforced that I do triathlons for fun, that being active is very important as it helps me to be healthy and live feeling like I am being the best partner, friend, sister, naturopath and generally positive contributing member of society.  I don’t want any confusion, I also want to beat everyone else who is racing that day and push my self to my limits and perhaps beyond.  In the end though, as long as I’ve shown up and tried, I’m golden.

So what did I do? I worked to increase my immunity, increase my body’s ability to receive and use iron and most importantly, I relaxed.

  • I used an iron supplement called Proferrin, taken with vitamin C  & the tissue salt Ferrum Phos to help increase its’ absorbability.fish oil
  • I had  a series of vitamin IV therapy, offered at Naturmend.  These helped to rehydrate and provided essential minerals and vitamins for recovery and cellular function.
  • For enhanced immunity I used a blend of medicinal mushrooms called Immune 7 by Purica and stayed the course of my usual probiotics (HMF Forte), both available at Naturmend.
  • To ensure inflammation was not a concern and to help when I was working out, I used curcumin (theracumin by Natural Factors) and stayed the course of my fish oils (NutraSea) all of which are available at Naturmend.
  • I rested for 4 months.  I walked daily and walk / ran with my dogs 3 times a week.  I commuted to work when the weather was nice.  I didn’t swim.  I never pushed myself into a high heart rate zone.  I focused much more on how I felt then what I thought I should be doing or heart rate levels. It was hard.
  • I eased back into training the last 2 months by increasing the frequency by which I did things but not really the intensity.


Race day

sarah-triI had no expectations, just curiosity of how things would unfold.  The grey sky opened up as I slipped into the serpentine at Hyde Park, leaving huge patches of blue with sun streaked bands reaching to the ground as I biked my way passed Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London.  Unbelievable.  As if that wasn’t enough I felt strong and fast during the run as spectators cheered “Go Canada!”. Perfect day. Great race.

Thrilled to be feeling normal again overshadowed what for me was a relatively slow time.  It didn’t matter.  All that mattered and what still matters is that I’m back on track.  Was it the supplements? Was it the rest? Was it the change in perspective?  I’ll never know, just grateful it all came together.

If you have any comments, questions let me know by leaving a comment. If you’ve had a similar experience, feel free to share what it was you did, your success story.  If you are currently experiencing some of what I did and need some help, get in touch with me by contacting Naturmend  info@naturmend.com


Sarah Kent, ND

Sarah KentDr. Sarah Kent is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor specializing in your health.  She blends traditional knowledge with current scientific understanding to generate wellness within her patients. She has received specialized training in naturopathic sports medicine, applying the principles and tools of naturopathic care in treating athletes.  With these skills she’s helped patients improve their sport performance, rehabilitate & prevent injury.



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