Recovery mineral check | Magnesium

After my 50K race in April I decided to take some time for deeper recovery. Like many, my life is quite full and I tend to always be striving, which with recent demands led me to no longer feeling like my energized and vital self.

I had been chalking it up to simply cramming too much into my schedule and accepting the trade off, but as I began focusing on recovery something seemed off. Eating right, sleeping better, meditating, changing my fitness routine to one more restorative didn’t bring the vitality I was expecting to rush back.

After a few months of research and experimentation I found the likely culprit : low levels of magnesium. I say likely because it’s hard to clearly confirm with a test, but a marked improvement mere hours after taking a magnesium supplement plus a continued improvement for weeks sure says something.

Turns out magnesium is key to over 300 processes in the body, including regulation of the nervous system and sleep, energy production, blood glucose and blood pressure control, to name a few. There’s also a high incidence of people with low levels of magnesium, partly due to a poor diet or absorption, partly because of poor soil leading to lower magnesium in foods. That incidence seems to be even higher in athletes with magnesium being consumed faster by various processes used in exercise and recovery, and excreted through sweat.

As I reflected on periods of successful high intensity training in the past, such as when I trained for my first marathon, I was always following a regimen of vitamin and mineral supplements at the same time, something I haven’t had more recently with my shift to more plant-based/nutrient dense foods. In hindsight, I likely ran an increasing deficit for a fairly long period of time and my mind-over-miles training aggravated the situation.

It’s been a few weeks and I’m happy to be on my way back to full vitality. I will continue taking a magnesium supplement for a bit while I make sure to include magnesium rich foods in my diet, making food the main source overtime. I need more yoga and restorative practices before getting back to endurance, though.

Anyone training hard out there and/or just feeling disproportionately tired (here’s a list of symptoms), and since testing seems to be inconclusive, you may want to (talk to your doctor) and increase magnesium rich foods or try a whole foods based supplement. Taking it in the evenings has a great side effect of improved sleep as well.

Minerals just went up on my priority list. Hug a rock today.