I am new to this site and possibly not your typical case but here goes; I have been a keen athlete for many years and a half decent Marathon / ultra marathon runner, having completed 25+ in total and, up until Dec late 2011 I was running 6 days a week / 50-60 miles a week. I hit a wall in October 11 and ended up at the doctors only to be diagnosed with hypothyroidism. One year on and I am now on 175mg of Levo and have been for about 6 months. I can just about cope as long as I do not train too hard (maybe 3 easy runs a week) and have simply lost all my speed and endurance and crash badly if I train too hard and end up in bits for days. I also have most of the symptoms associated with general autoimmune disease (various rashes popping up, severe tiredness, joint pains, low blood sugar moments/dizziness/hoarse voice) but I have not put an ounce of weight on since diagnosis which is strange I know (10/5 stone / 5'8'' male). I recently had tests for RA and although it wasn't confirmed, there are early signs in hands and feet. I also seem to have cysles of 'good days' followed by the inevitable 'bad days'. Q: Is it possible that with time I will be able to train properly again and race? I am 46 and have no intention of giving up on my running but currently I am paying dearly for the effort of just ticking over and spend most of my time knackered and frustrated...enough

23 Replies

  • Hi. I used to be a very serious rower - training 6 days a week. I used to run a lot too. I started hitting a wall too, about an hour into a bike ride, but didn't relate it to the thyroid, just thought it was my age (I'm 43 now, was about 32 then), then was eventually diagnosed as hypothyroid after about 5 years of struggling with exercise. I have never put weight on either, and also have good days when I feel I could run a marathon and bad days when I feel exhausted after a day with the kids. I wish I could say it gets better, and it may do for you, but for me, the wall is still there and I do mostly non-cardio exercise now to avoid hitting it. On the plus side, I'm no fatter for that! For me, running is really the worst thing, but I can still cycle and swim pretty effectively, and now enjoy weights, powerplate and pilates for my exercise kick. I suspect that my competition days are over though.

    Suggest taking vitamins (D and B12 particularly), making sure you have enough salt, and having a period of rest before building up the running.

    Good luck, and please let me know if anything does help you.


  • Hi Emma, thanks for that and it does seem as though I may simply have to adjust my targets and accept that the competition days are over. The problem is getting the balance right and finding where I am at. The pattern is becoming clear; a few days of training = a week of feeling like death! Anyway, onwards and I will try out these supplements although I have always been minded that you can get your vitamin needs from food and that the tablet market is just a scam, but maybe I am being cynical. Cheers Martin

  • When it comes to other vitamins, I lean towards the same opinion. However, vitamin D and B12 are the exception by far to this theory. You might benefit from educating yourself on how deficiencies in either of these two can lead to major health problems. Deficiencies of D and B12 are common in people with hypothyroidism, so once you've got your head around them a bit, it's worth asking your doctor to test your levels.

    To begin learning about the importance of vitamin D (which is actually a hormone) you could start here:

    For vitamin B12 deficiency, check out the Pernicious Anaemia Society here:


  • Clearly I need to wise up on the whole vitamin thing so will start today! I also get every single cold going round, which may be linked. ta

  • I didn't realise the importance of Vitamin D either, til I tested & supplemented. I would much prefer to get it from the sun! Sadly Hypo sufferers tend to be low in vitamins/minerals so it's worth getting Vit D3, irons, folate ferratin and B12, checked out anyway.

    Makes you think why they fortify foods like cereal? because even a good daily diet does not guarantee enough nutrients nowadays, Vit D supplementation is advised for 'at risk' groups like toddlers and the elderly (advice to GPs from the chief medical officer of England, Scotland etc.) and a recent artcle...

    Jane :D

  • Thanks Jane, I should have joined this ages ago as I am learning lots. My GP is alright but having been referred to a large number of specialists for a year I am not really much further forward and am getting the idea that I need to own this and get up to speed with some self help. I can feel some reading coming on....

  • Hi. I absolutely agree that we should get our vitamins from our food, and never supplemented previously. I eat an increadibly healthy diet. However, I started going downhill quite fast about a year ago, and my endocrinologist suggested taking supplements. I now take loads. All the B vitamins, C, A, E, lots of D and B12. I also take glucosamine (actually licensed to treat rheumatoid arthritis in Germany!) and chondrotin for my joints, plus omega 3s and co-enzyme Q10. I also supplement all the minerals too - particularly magnesium zinc, copper and chromium. Some of these are to try and help my migraines. I also started adding salt to my food.

    The result? I felt soooo much better. I don't creak and ache like I did. I now believe our foods must be quite deficient in lots of these essential vitamins and minerals. We (hypothyroids) are probably not great at absorbing them either.

    It costs a few pounds and can't really hurt you in the right doses, so is worth a try!


  • At least your doctor is unable to deny that you exercise, and blame everything on your diet and inactivity...

  • In his book, The Diagnosis and Management of Hypothyroidism, Dr Skinner advises against running marathons.

  • I wonder what the physiological reason for that advice is though? Since diagnosis I simply do not respond to training and in fact the harder I train, the slower I seem to get...

  • I have been hypothyroid for about 25 years. The first 10 years on meds were fine then the meds stopped working and I went on to t3/t4 combination. Was reasonable and I worked out with a personal trainer 3 times a week for three or four years. Then it started taking me longer and longer t o recover, I gave up the trainer and went to the doctor, who sent me to a gym. I got worse and worse and decided to do an adrenal profile..... My adrenals were pretty awful and it took a couple of years of rest , cortisone and vitamins b and c to get them anywhere near right. I still struggled with exercise though and it took me a couple more years to get a diagnosis of exercise induced asthma. ( doctor incompetence)

    BUT..... I went for an hours boxercize yesterday..... I managed to keep up with the rest of the women and the men there... Today I absolutely ache everywhere... But it was fantastic to get such a buzz from proper exercise and iM booked in for a different class tomorrow.

    I know all this is a bit long winded, but guess what iM trying to say, is check those adrenals - especially with the low blood sugar - and check the free t3 levels...... Give yourself a break and heal whatever is wrong...... And you will be able to exercise again...... And if the doctor is giving you bad advice, tell him.

    G x

  • Good luck with that, I will stick to running if i can! I had an adrenal test and was ok. I actually wonder if there is a link to extreme excersise and the whole autoimmune thing as the theory suggest it can be triggered by a trauma and I for one have pushed my body through some pain over the years. I went to my GP whilst recovering from a mountain 50 mile ultra in the Alps, which i think was the final straw! Not sure if any studies have been carried out on this but my Endo said it was possible although he couldn't say for sure. The advice you give is consistent, rest and recover. cheers

  • Was it a test of adrenals which showed how they performed throughout the day? A saliva test? Or was it just a random one off blood test?


  • I recall two or three blood tests spaced over about an hour, about six months ago. I also had to play a game of lying down and standing up quickly, then having my blood pressure taken. All came back clear.

  • Oh yes, the test that shows if you are alive or not..... Get a proper adrenal saliva test to see how they perform throughout the day... The one over an hour just looks at whether they can respond when stimulated with enough meds to make a dead donkey kick.

    Saliva test is private and costs about £80, you can do it by post. My own adrenals showed as brilliant on an early morning test, but the saliva test showed them dipping to sleep levels by 11 am every day....


  • From memory - and being hypo it is invariably dodgy! - I think he advises against marathons even when you are healthy as I think he says they're dangerous as try put too much stress on your body. Having said that, if you regularly run marathons and you're not just running 1 marathon to tick something off on your list of things to do, then it's probably not as much a shock to the system. Xx

  • The last sentence there was mine by the way and not dr s's opinion, just to be clear :-p

  • I understand your fustration! I have always been an active person, humping paving slabs to running, horse riding, fencing, wall building, of road walking, cycling dancing you name it then I sent ten years trying to figure out what was going wrong after diagnosis another 7 years trying to out run/work it... And it doesnt work... infact I have had to give up "dream 2" western trail riding/training /teaching, couldnt keep p with all the support work required. Now looking for something new... currently helping hubby train huskys for racing :-)

    You have to run a little and "scoot" to help them on the hills and in turn I get to feel the wind in my hair!

  • I missed that bit. My ambition is to run 5k again... first I need to lose a stone or two (again).

  • Do it as the former will help with the latter! Find your local ParkRun (every Saturday and it's free). Walk for a minute / jog for a minute and you will get there...

  • umm, 12st 7 the other day, and only 5ft 4... 11st 7 means things bounce less.

    I have horses, so spend a lot of time walking, mucking out, riding etc...

  • Hi, sorry to hear about your health and exercise issues.

    I have autoimmune hypothyroid but having finally moved to t3 only which really helped with the majority of my symptoms I am left with fatigue and struggle to lose any weight. My endo discharged me as he said these symptoms were not due to thyroid but he was unable to give me any further advice.

    I have started looking myself at other things and have discovered that possibly I didn't convert t4 effectively at cell level. If each cell doesn't work properly than normal vits and minerals won't be processed well either. Also after trying to trek at altitude i discovered that I couldn't get enough oxygen and had to stop and come down. I will be starting a host of supplements and have tried to avoid toxin exposures soon. I have for example, high levels of mercury and antibacterials in me which interfere with cell function. So have stopped eating fish, using antibacterial products and will be having dental amalgams removed. I know this sounds really wacky and I'm trying to get my own head around this.

    My point is keep an open mind and try to eliminate one thing at a time. I would avoid overdoing exercise at present until you have some more answers. I would start by finding out if you have other autoimmune diseases in your family - there are many!

    Good luck!

  • Thanks for all the helpful comments and advice, I single handidly raised the share price in Holland and Barrett over the weekend and am now equipped with a range of vits, including B12 and D3. The plan is to try and train for London Marathon this year, see how it goes and take a view closer to the race in April. I will update on the vitamin effect over the next few weeks as not sure how long it should take to see some improvement, but guess it will be gradual. cheers!

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