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March 14, 2011

How to not F up your Fe

Kathy Kanes, myself, Liz "The Woz" Stahl, and Elizabeth "ER" Hutchinson following a cross country race in Golden Gate Park in 1995.

A running friend recently told me that she had been feeling fatigued on runs, and after seeing the doc, was found to have low iron (aka anemia). My iron levels have been normal for a while, but when she said it, I had a flashback to the mid-90s when I was racing a ton. It was then that I noticed serious fatigue at the beginning of every run…like lead in the legs – that would gradually lessen as the run went on. For a while, I dismissed it as merely a symptom of training (along with sore muscles, afternoon lethargy, and pre-meal anger management problems).

The culprit, however, turned out to be low iron. And what I learned was that there are a couple of ways to solve it. One was to take supplements, but per usual, the more effective way was via diet.

At the time, I was close friends with an elite runner by the name of Kathy Kanes. Although Kathy ran and did some workouts with us, she was on another level – to the tune of a 9:20 3,000m. She was also a brainiac, having gone to school and raced at Cal Tech.

When I told her of my iron issue, she sent me the below chicken liver recipe – which I dutifully followed, and within a few weeks, was totally cured. (Like the richest, most expensive pate, I told myself, while eating bite after bite.)

The sad epilogue to this story is that Kathy died a couple of years later from an aggressive form of cancer. It was sudden and fast and she was far too young. So I feel lucky to have met her and been a friend. Along with the chicken liver recipe, she taught me many running lessons that are still with me today (such as how to cure side aches, the value of really slowing down on rest days, and that the secret to not getting cotton mouth before races was to drink coffee without milk. I mean c’mon, solid gold wisdom.) Bigger yet, her brief and talented life reminds me that every day – and every running friend – is an immensely valuable gift.

Kathy Kane’s Simple but Deadly Chicken Liver Recipe

  • Lightly sauté livers on low heat with chopped onions
  • Use Canola or safflower oil (not olive)
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • If onions are too much for your alimentary tract, discard but keep the oil
  • Mash the whole business together with hard boiled eggs until reasonably homogenous
  • Use about one eggs for every four livers
  • Serve on crackers or Melba toast



Drea | March 25, 2011 at 5:05pm

How come canola or safflower

How come canola or safflower oil, and specifically not olive?

Dane Elder | March 9, 2017 at 10:13am

I ran with Kathy Kanes

Kathy Kane's and I ran together in South Carolina. She had awesome tips for doing what we now call HIIT training, and I adapted her workouts for a high school track team in Germany . I lost touch with her when she moved to Seattle. I got one last letter from her,telling me her running was lousy, and something was wrong with her thyroid. Years later, I went through the same thing. Yes, that recipe is the right thing for low iron. Plus, as we age, we have a tendency not to absorb as much B12 as we should. I still think about her and I am sorry she passed.