Customer Story

This athlete’s frequent illnesses and injuries were holding him back from his Olympic dreams.

GOALS AND WANTS (WHY?)

Paul came to Ixcela because he wanted to maximize his chance of qualifying for the Olympic Marathon and Half Marathon Trials. Due to frequent upper respiratory infections and injuries (Achilles tendinitis and a recurring calf strain), he missed up to fifty training days per year—and just before testing with Ixcela, he had missed twenty-four days in one month alone. Missing training days kept him from progressing toward his goals. He needed to try something different to boost his performance and athletic recovery.

Paul diligently kept logs of his sleep, stress, and training mileage, and he knew that his sleep could be improved. However, he was uncertain to what extent sleep was affecting his performance and recovery, and he was curious if nutrition and mindfulness changes might also improve his progress. That’s why Paul decided to look into his internal fitness to assess what could be impacting his recovery and immune function.

ROOT CAUSES AND INSIGHTS (WHAT?)

Paul’s Ixcela results showed that he wasn’t getting enough protein (his tryptophan and tyrosine were both below optimal levels) and his body wasn’t able to keep up with his training load (his xanthine was above optimal). This meant that his body was under too much stress and it lacked key nutrients for proper recovery, sleep, and immune function.

The amino acids tryptophan and tyrosine are especially important for runners because these metabolites affect sleep, cellular repair, muscle tissue recovery, immune function, mood, and motivation. Tryptophan is involved in the production of serotonin (the happiness molecule) and melatonin (the sleep hormone). When tryptophan is below optimal levels, it can affect the ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. Tyrosine serves as a building block for several neurotransmitters that help to regulate mood, behavior, and general feelings of well-being. Because tyrosine helps the body build proteins and helps nerve cells communicate, it is an important metabolite for athletic performance and recovery.

Xanthine, one of the stress markers Ixcela tests, is a key indicator of how the body is adapting to the training load. Above-optimal xanthine may indicate overtraining and the need for nutrition adjustments and more restorative activities and rest days. Optimal levels of xanthine support energy, tissue repair, cellular healing, and sustained exercise performance.

AHA! (SO WHAT?)

While speaking with his Ixcela Expert, Paul realized there were gaps in his diet. He sometimes skipped meals or grabbed an easy (but not necessarily nutritious) snack such as chips, granola bars, or cookies. With the help of his Ixcela Expert, he understood how important protein, specifically tryptophan, is for supporting restful sleep and recovery. Paul’s Expert explained that his body was not getting enough protein to support his athletic goals and assist in the repair process. Insufficient protein and lack of recovery days were also contributing to his frequent colds.

Paul shared that he would sometimes go an entire month without taking a rest day. After learning that xanthine is a marker for stress and overtraining, he realized that he needed to add more rest days so he could increase his mileage from forty miles per week to ninety miles per week at the peak of his training. Seeing that his body was already showing signs of being overstressed meant that he needed to consider additional recovery strategies.

ACTION PLAN (NOW WHAT?)

Using the testing data, Paul’s Ixcela Expert created a personalized action plan that he could reasonably fit into his busy lifestyle. To help him reduce missed training days due to sickness or injury, he needed to focus on two primary goals:

  1. Increase Protein Intake
    Paul decided to:
    • Plan for meals to make sure he had protein-rich options on hand. Paul felt he could make time for eggs or omelets in the morning to ensure he started his days with a protein-rich meal.
    • Log his meals for one week so he and his Ixcela Expert could explore ways to incorporate additional protein into his diet.
  2. Reduce Physical Stress
    Paul would:
    • Consider doing a 6-days-on, 1-day-off training schedule. He shared that he had used this sort of schedule in the past and it allowed him to feel his best. With the advice of his Ixcela Expert, Paul realized that taking rest days would reduce his risk of injury.
    • Continue to practice yoga a few times per week and start getting to bed by 10 p.m.

The Ixcela Expert also advised Paul to start taking 3 personalized supplements:

  • Ixcela Biome Support (Probiotic + Prebiotic): Supports the population and diversity of the gut microbiome
  • Ixcela Defend (Vitamin C + Zinc): Supports the stress marker and purine metabolite xanthine
  • Ixcela Protect (N-Acetyl L-Cysteine + L-Methionine + Selenium): Supports stress marker metabolites like xanthine

PAYOFF (WHEE!)

Since working with Ixcela, Paul has been prioritizing sleep and rest and he is keeping a food log to prioritize his protein. He reported that he has been able to “bounce back quicker and not take as many days off from running.” He has noticed that he is getting sick less often, but when he does, his cold symptoms decrease more rapidly than before! Paul’s sleep quality has also improved, and he is waking up less frequently throughout the night. He reports less fatigue throughout the day and, as a result, he is able to run farther. Paul is now feeling very hopeful about reaching his Olympic goals.

Note: This client's name has been changed to protect his privacy.
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