Exactly one month ago, I went to a local hospital to give blood for the fourth time. I give blood once a year, though this round was a bit delayed due to the racing schedule. I had just run a half the week before and had actually just returned from Las Vegas the day before. Thus, the "lucky" recipients of my donation not only received really huge, oxygen-carrying discs (RBC's) but probably also remnants of my high crepe consumption in Sin City.
Anyway, the day after I gave blood, I did my usual hour and a half of circuit-type training, which didn't feel too much worse than usual. I was also running a handful of 6-milers later in the week. Although I definitely stepped up the eating a little bit (too much, perhaps), I did not notice any side-effects of the missing blood. If my running or other workouts have stepped down at all (currently at about 20 mpw), it is because of my nagging shin pain that has not gone away since May. I know running these Monday 10-milers on it (and the other shin that is starting to feel bad) hasn't been helping, either, especially since I've been running 6-milers on Sundays also.
What was the point of this post? Oh yes... I wanted to share something I found regarding running and blood-giving. According to this, I should be benefitting from this in the long run (no pun intended). If nothing else, I'm still a proud blood donor and intend on continuing to do so (probably at the hospital again... they were so much nicer than the Red Cross).
Donating Blood and Running
1. Blood volumes. You typically donate a pint of blood (450 g) and it takes your body 2 to 3 days to recover the volume. It takes about 2 months to recover the lost red blood cells.
2. Drop in performance. When you have less blood, your body can carry less oxygen. Expect to lose about 10% of your typical performance ability. This will be most noticeable to long distance jogglers. Note some experts say it can take up to 3 months to regain total aerobic capacity. Yikes!
3. Recovering from donation. To get back in top-notch joggling form, be sure to drink extra fluids immediately after the donation and the next day. Also, make sure you are eating things with protein and iron in them to help replenish. The experts say think of a blood donation as a day of rest.
4. It’s not all bad. While you may have an initial reduction in performance, there is at least one theory that says donating may have the benefit of actually increasing the amount of red blood cell count when your body recovers. This would happen because your body might overshooting the target level. Just a theory though.