Yes, Runners Get Thyroid Disease, Too. Here’s Why That’s Confusing
"At first, Olympic marathoner Jared Ward thought he was just tired. He’s 33, with five kids ranging from 11 months to 9 years old. Surely, some extra fatigue comes with the territory.
But Ward—a statistics professor—soon began to notice irregularities in his data. His resting heart rate is typically in the high 30s to low 40s early in a marathon training cycle, then decreases as he gains fitness, dipping into the low 30s when it’s time to taper for the big race.
In the past couple of years, though, it’s hovered close to 30, even in the offseason... The last straw was the USATF 20K championships, held Labor Day weekend in New Haven, Connecticut. He finished in a disappointing-to-him 1:01:20, for 16th place, nearly two minutes off his personal best. “I thought, ‘This just doesn’t feel right. I’m working hard, and I’m not feeling like I’m used to feeling,’” he said. He came home and booked a doctor’s visit.
Blood tests revealed Ward’s levels of thyroid stimulating hormone, or TSH, were above the range considered normal—a sign of an underactive thyroid. His doctor suggested treatment with low-dose levothyroxine, a synthetic hormone that would replace the one his gland was no longer efficiently churning out." (Taken from Runner's World)
The Thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland on the front part of the neck which wraps around the trachea. The thyroid is a gland, which means it creates and secretes subtances (hormones in this case) that are used by your body.
The thyroid’s main role in the body is to help regulate your digestive system. It does this through several different hormones. If any one of these hormones is not being produced in the proper amounts, it can lead to a variety of side effects.
Thyroid issues are incredibly common, affecting an estimated 20 Million Americans. Thyroid issues are also found among people of all ages, gender, and race.
Symptoms of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can include:
- Experiencing anxiety, irritability and nervousness.
- Having trouble sleeping.
- Losing weight.
- Having an enlarged thyroid gland or a goiter.
- Having muscle weakness and tremors.
- Experiencing irregular menstrual periods or having your menstrual cycle stop.
- Feeling sensitive to heat.
- Having vision problems or eye irritation.
Symptoms of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can include:
- Feeling tired (fatigue).
- Gaining weight.
- Experiencing forgetfulness.
- Having frequent and heavy menstrual periods.
- Having dry and coarse hair.
- Having a hoarse voice.
- Experiencing an intolerance to cold temperatures.
To read the rest about Jared Ward's experience with thyroid issues and professional Marathon running, you can read the entire Runner's World article by Cindy Kuzma that we shared a portion of at the top of this blog.
If you're concerned that you might have thyroid issues, you should consult with your doctor.