What is EPO?
Oh Lance, you make me sad. As well as millions of other people, I’m sure. When I first got into running and fitness, Lance’s book It’s Not About the Bike, inspired me. It made me push harder and believe that I could be an amazing athlete. I remember when I had to do the one mile swim test for my PE class, I told the girl who was counting my laps, “If I start to slow down, yell at me ‘What would Lance do?’.” Whenever I was injured and spending hours on the bike, I would wear my yellow Livestrong bracelet to remind me to push my limits. And I always remember thinking that Lance wasn’t the best person (the way he treated Kristin really bothered me), but I believed he was an amazing athlete who had a different understanding of what it meant to really try. He had been so close to death and now he wasn’t afraid to find that next level. I guess that next level meant “winning at all costs.”
After last night’s interview, and the constant mention of EPO, I realized I have no idea what exactly is EPO. Well EPO, which stands for erythropoietin, is a hormone produced by the liver and kidneys and it can boost your endurance quite a bit.
EPO — which can also be produced in a lab using cell cultures — regulates how many red blood cells your body produces.Once released into the bloodstream, it binds with receptors in the bone marrow and stimulates red blood cell production — thus increasing the blood’s oxygen carrying capacity (red blood cells carry oxygen).
In addition to increasing endurance, EPO might also increase motivation. (If I didn’t know better, I’d say that doesn’t sound so bad.) But EPO can also cause serious health problems. Due to the increase of red blood cells, it can lead to a thickening of the blood which can lead to a clot, heart attack, or stroke. Um, definitely not worth it.
Oh Lance, I had truly believed.
Happy Trails and Happy Running,
Running Update: I’m tired. My body is tired, my legs are tired, and I think I need more sleep. Today, I skipped my 5 miles and fell asleep on the couch. There is a thin line between training and overtraining. I desperately do not want to cross it. 17 miles in the morning.