Thalassemia or genetic anemia

My girlfriend picked up cycling a couple of months ago and she has Thalassemia. She rides mostly indoors and this is the first time ever that she trains regularly. She worked her way up to 5 1hr trainer sessions per week after the first 2 “easy” weeks of getting used to the bike. She’s been getting substantially stronger and has improved her body composition a lot during the last 2 months, but I wonder if Thalassemia will cap her fitness very early on compared to someone without it. I guess that aerobic performance will plateau when the red blood cells won’t be able to carry as much oxygen as the muscles demand.

I’m not asking for medical advice, we will go to a specialist for that and will make sure that she is ok to do intense efforts before introducing her to TR.

I’d like to know if some of you have this condition and how you deal with it (if you do at all) and in which way does it have an impact in your performance. Please share your stories if you or someone close to you are affected

I have thalassemia trait (aka thaassemia minor). I assume that is what your girlfriend has as thalassemia major is very serious.

I didn’t even find out about it until I was 20 years old. I raced bicycles in my mid to late twenties and never thought about the performance implications. I was an okay cat 4 trying to race on limited time while working full time. I was a good sprinter and finisher but never a climber.

AFAICT, my team mates who didn’t have thalassemia weren’t better riders. Maybe it means I was never destined to make the Olympics or the Pro peloton but neither were my team mates.

I started training again seriously 5 years ago (54 years old now) with structured training in the last two years. For my age I’m above average in my club but I’ll never catch up to the ex-cat 1s my age as they are still seriously fast.

The bottom line - your girlfriend doesn’t need to do anything. Just train and enjoy the process. Also remember that even though they call it “anemic”, it’s not because of low iron. Thalassemia is smaller red blood cells. It could be helpful to have a doctor that understands the trait. Most doctors don’t.