Couch to 5K
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being anemic and exercise do you suffer?

Hi Everyone!

I have completed c25k once before in july/aug 2011, yay! and rarely suffered from anything, stitch when doing it before. It was due to many unforeseen events beyond anyone's control stopped training. But returning to the programme starting from the beginning again, I cannot complete week 5 day 3. TWICE!! 20 mins. I know I can do it but my thighs are not allowing me to do it!?! I am not tired not even breathless, just lactic acid built up which doesn't hurt when running through it as I have done that before and hadn't affected me; this time around, different story, I can run for 10-15 mins then done. And after the session I have gone back to bed exhausted!!! Weirdly enough I am not tired mentally.I feel demoralized. And I don't want to give up but...Anemia appears to be winning here.

I am worried that being anemic is having an affect on my performance; that I have also included in my fitness regime muscle strengthening, I hadn't done that last year but they are not intense, really shouldn't really do anything? There's being tired after doing strenuous activities but I feel ridiculous and defeated. Going to the docs seems like it's on the cards and horrid blood tests again :(

I am just wondering if anyone else suffers? Being anemic and when your (red) blood levels drop does it affect your exercise performance as well as lifestyle.

Thanks for listening to me whine.


3 Replies

Hi Running-G - I'm by no means an expert on anaemia (or physiology in general!) and I would say it's definitely always worth a phonecall with your doctor just to discuss possible reasons for why something is happening.

However, it does sound like logically there would be a connection between anaemia and muscle effectiveness. Your red blood cells carry oxygen around your body, and when you're doing strenuous exercise your muscles need lots of oxygen to keep them going. Lactic acid builds up when there's not enough oxygen getting there, so it would make sense that a lack of red blood cells = less oxygen = much harder on your muscles. And then the exhaustion afterwards could perhaps be to do with your body struggling to get back to normal.

Like I said though - worth a phonecall or check-up with the doctor! He can give you some advice on how to manage this - perhaps it's just that you need to build exercise into your treatment plan, e.g. if you're taking any meds / supplements, perhaps you need more on days when you exercise (depending on what GP says of course!!).

Hope you get it sorted because nothing should stand in the way of getting out there and doing something that you enjoy and is great for your health x


I'm very very anaemic, always have been, but it's never affected any exercise I've ever done. I'm on week 9 now, if anything my energy levels are better than before.

As you've completed the C25K successfully I doubt your problems now are due to the anaemia, unless you have recently developed anaemia, but I would also suggest going to see your doctor for a check up.


I have b12 anaemia which left me shockingly tired all the time. Before I was diagnosed I went to the doctors complaining of tiredness and the first thing she recommended was to do exercise. At that time I joined zumba and went swimming and I have to admit it made me feel so much better when you would think the opposite (especially as b12 deficiency can leave you feel quite depressed so even getting out of the house to do the exercise made me feel better). I started C25K a few weeks ago and I'm currently in the middle of week 5. I feel tired in a good way as I feel refreshed being out in the fresh air and my muscles feel like they've done work but not painful - I have been trying to do Tara Stiles' runners yoga on youtube after exercise though to prevent my muscles seizing up. My next run is the 8 minute and the one after is the 20 minute one you're complaining of which I'm not really not looking forward to but if I fail to do it I think it will be more in my head than due to my body. Hope you get past your wall soon!


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