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At-Home Assessments Aimed At Improving Performance

  • By Mario Fraioli
  • Published Jun. 15, 2010
  • Updated Jun. 15, 2010 at 2:54 PM UTC

Bioletics helps runners avoid the doctor and identify the common deficiencies and nutritional imbalances that may be contributing to injuries and limiting performance.

Written by: Mario Fraioli

Since I first laced up a pair of running shoes 13 years ago, I’ve established something of a temporary residency on the roads, but have also spent more than my share of time on the sidelines, not to mention in the doctor’s office.

After nearly a decade of issue-free training and racing, the last four years have been full of annoying injuries and performance plateaus that have baffled and frustrated me to no end. The explanation? Everything from not getting enough sleep to faulty mechanics has received a big part of blame, but a slew of different scans and battery of blood and bone density tests recently revealed below-average Vitamin D levels, insufficient iron intake and a whole host of hormonal imbalances that took months to uncover and even longer to interpret.

In the process of beginning to understand my own unique set of issues, I learned that a lot of the red-flag factors that contributed to them are not uncommon – just not commonly looked for, identified and corrected. There are many runners who have suffered from incessant injuries or experienced performance setbacks that no one can easily explain, or do anything about – until now.

Bioletics, a company founded by Dr. Richard Cohen and based out of Bend, Oregon, has developed a series of at-home assessments that allows athletes to easily and inexpensively identify the physiological factors and screen for some of the most common deficiencies and nutritional imbalances that may be contributing to injuries, limiting performance and affecting overall well-being. The assessments provide athletes with a wealth of important information, and the ability to accurately assess that information, without the waiting, referrals, and frustrations of having to deal with a doctor’s office.

After receiving the initial assessment kit, the athlete collects either a finger stick/blood spot, salivary or urine sample in the convenience of his or her own home, then submits the samples back to a Bioletics-selected laboratory, and within two weeks has an over-the-phone consultation with a Bioletics advisor to go over results and discuss the necessary changes that need to take place in order to lessen the likelihood of injuries and improve performance.

Personally, I wish I knew about the availability of this at-home option months ago. It would have saved me from the inconvenience of booking appointments, running around to different specialists and labs, not to mention a couple hundred dollars in co-payments and months of frustration.

“What’s revolutionary about this is it gives you the ability to avoid the doctor,” said Tim Monoco, Director of Client Education for Bioletics. “You don’t have to make an appointment to go to the lab, you can do everything at home. Secondly, you’re getting a very performance-oriented and optimal health perspective from the tests.”

Available in a variety of options, the at-home assessments are aimed at providing the information most medical professionals avoid and overlook when dealing with and diagnosing athletes and their unique issues.

“They’re looking at things on more of a disease level,” explained Monaco. “Doctors really don’t know what to do with healthy people, to be honest. There’s a misconception that if you’re athletic you must be healthy. What we’ve found is that just about everybody has something that is out of line and we’re missing these really easy things. We’ve identified these factors as being the key foundational elements to optimal health and optimal performance.”

In my own experience, I’ve found the information I eventually obtained about my own deficiencies and imbalances to be eye-opening. I just wish it were easier to access in the first place. After falling into a frustrating pattern of taking one step forward followed by two steps back, it turned out that a few simple fixes in the form of dietary adjustments and some select supplements were all I needed to get myself going in the right direction again.

“Once you get everything where it needs to be, it becomes more of a maintenance issue,” Monoco said. “The tests are going to give you the exact information you need rather than just winging it and just guessing at what you think you need because you read something in some article.”

Although it’s a new company that employs a revolutionary protocol, Bioletics has caught favor with the McMillan Elite-Team USA Arizona post-collegiate running team. Coach Greg McMillan’s athletes have been using Bioletics to monitor such factors as ferritin and iron levels, as well as to keep an eye on and hormone/recovery status, to identify and address any fixable contributors that might be inhibiting performance. Elite or not, the information provided by the assessments can help any athlete trying to lessen the likelihood of injury and maximize performance.

“There are some very interesting cases,” Monaco said of the McMillan Elite athletes. “I think some of the people who have had some injury issues came back with some very glaring sub-optimal levels – we saw a lot of low iron issues, a lot of vitamin D issues, a lot of low amino acids, which is an essential thing for runners because there’s so much muscle breakdown that occurs. It’s kind of low hanging fruit. This is the stuff that’s not going to continue to improve if you don’t get these things in line. Everybody wants to be the best they can be; you just need to make sure you’re looking for the right things.”

FILED UNDER: Features / Nutrition TAGS: / / / / /

Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli is a senior editor at Competitor magazine. A cross-country All-American at Stonehill College in 2003, he now coaches the Prado Women's Racing Team in San Diego and was the men's marathon coach for Costa Rica's 2012 Olympic team. His first book, The Official Rock 'n' Roll Guide To Marathon & Half-Marathon Training (VeloPress, 2013) is available in bookstores, running shops and online.

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