Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Kinesiology



Major Advisor

Shawn R. Simonson, Ph.D

Major Advisor

Scott A. Conger, Ph.D.


Yong Gao, Ph.D.


Introduction: Iron deficiency (ID), measured as serum ferritin (SF), has been found in 31% and 57% of elite male and female athletes respectively. In distance runners, ID has been found to affect up to 41% of men and 82% of women. There are significant health consequences of ID such as decreased bone mineral density, altered thyroid function, immune suppression, and fatigue. Purpose: To determine if there is a relationship between ID and training reductions due to injury, illness, and fatigue in collegiate distance runners. Hypothesis: Because ID affects bone health, fatigue, thyroid, and immune function, it is hypothesized that distance runners with ID experience training reductions more frequently than athletes with normal SF levels. Methods: A preexisting data set consisting 47 NCAA Division 1 cross country runners’ (M=20 years ± 1.69) SF, injury information, fatigue reports, and training volume was analyzed. SF levels were measured preceding the cross-country season in early September and following the season in early December. Athletes supplemented with ferrous sulfate elixir according to the SF level throughout the season. A generalized linear model investigated associations between training reduction, SF, and training volume. A chi-squared test compared ID athletes (≤35 μg/L) and athletes with normal SF (>35 μg/L). Significance was set at ≤ 0.05. Results: 57.4% of the athletes were IDNA at some point during the season. The IDNA group was twice as likely to experience a training reduction as the normal iron group (p < 0.05). Pre SF (B = -0.042 ± 0.0212), Post SF (B = 0.033 ± 0.0169), and training volume (B = -0.057 ± 0.0229) significantly predicted training reductions (p ≤ 0.05). Conclusion: IDNA was found to be associated with training reductions. Additionally, a higher pre SF value was associated with less training reduction. Athletes’ SF should be tested and corrected through supplementation and diet.