Blood markers of recovery from Ironman distance races in an elite triathlete

Document Type

Journal Article


Edizioni Minerva Medica


School of Medical and Health Sciences




Mujika, I., Pereira, D. S. F., & Nosaka, K. (2017). Blood markers of recovery from Ironman distance races in an elite triathlete. The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness, 57(7-8), 1057-1061. Available here


To understand the recovery of a top triathlete from Ironman distance triathlon races and the timing of training resumption, this study followed an elite male triathlete for 4 years and examined blood parameters after 6 Ironman triathlon races, in which he finished either first (3 races) or second (3 races), with finishing times of 8:00:21 to 8:49:38 (hours:minutes:seconds). The blood was taken either 5, 6 or 8 days after each triathlon race without any training sessions or recovery interventions after the race until the blood sampling. The blood analyses consisted of full hematology including red cell count and differential leucocyte counts (neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, basophils), full iron status (serum iron, total serum capacity, transferrin, saturation index, and ferritin) and general biochemistry (glucose, urea, creatinine, total proteins, aspartate transaminase [AST], alanine transaminase [AST], creatine kinase [CK]). No abnormal values were found for hematology and full iron status. CK activity exceeded the normal reference range (32-162 IU/L) after 3 races that he finished second (Roth 2007: 255 IU/L; Frankfurt 2008: 413 IU/L; Frankfurt 2009: 308 IU/L), but the blood samples were taken at 5 days after the two Frankfurt races and were not different from the athlete’s normal training values. AST and ALT activities were also slightly elevated after the two Frankfurt races (2008: 57 IU/L, 61 IU/L; 2009: 43 IU/L, 46 IU/L). It appears that despite slightly elevated CK activity, this elite triathlete recovered from Ironman distance triathlon races within approximately one week and could therefore resume full training within that time frame.



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