Date of Graduation
College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences
Context: Iron deficiency is a concern in distance runners due to the implications that hemoglobin production becomes impaired limiting oxygen uptake and tissue oxidation in the body. Ferritin is a biomarker used to diagnose iron deficiency. The related signs and symptoms of iron deficiency are associated with decreased performance and prolonged recovery. Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the change in ferritin levels affect measures of performance, measures of recovery, and rate of perceived exertion in female endurance runners. Design: The study was a descriptive longitudinal study. Setting: The study was conducted at a Mid-Atlantic Division I university. Patients or Other Participants: The participants in this study were distance runners on the active track and field roster at a Mid-Atlantic Division I university. Inclusion criteria was any active distance runner on the university women’s Cross Country/Track & Field team. Exclusion criteria was any injury resulting in greater than six months from training in the previous two years. Interventions: All participants completed the self-reported demographic questionnaire to determine participation eligibility, injury history, and iron supplementation history. Each participant completed a post-race questionnaire following each race competed to self-report measures related to performance and recovery. Results of ferritin levels and race times were obtained from existing data. Main Outcome Measures: The dependent variables were ferritin concentrations and the post-race questionnaire scores of RPE, sleep, dietary, hydration, and stress. Results: Ferritin levels were found to decrease in both freshman and upperclassman groups from the previous six and eighteen months of testing, respectively. Ferritin levels preseason and postseason were 50.33±17.94 and 46.33±17.75, respectively, with no significance in change F1,8 = 1.767, p=0.220. Partial correlations indicated moderate relationships between ferritin levels and feeling ill or injured (r=0.42, p=0.002), hours of sleep the previous three nights (r=0.315, p=0.021), and rate of perceived exertion (r=0.407, p=0.002). Conclusions: Ferritin can be a valuable tool in determining iron status in the body and is associated with several measures of recovery. Regular ferritin testing with other hematological markers provide a comprehensive analysis of factors that influence levels of aerobic capacity. Difference in iron stores have a significant relationship with measures of recovery, thus additional studies should be conducted to further investigate the importance of ferritin levels and confirm the findings of this study.
Bigelow, Ty, "Ferritin: An Iron Deficiency Biomarker in Collegiate Female Distance Runners" (2019). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 3795.