Truth be told, I was sort of running an experiment on myself last week. I work in a lab at a hospital here in Topeka (due to new Social Media regulations, I can no longer say which hospital, but it is VERY CLOSE to St. Francis) that is equipped with a blood bank. Once I started running back in March, I was right smack in the middle of a mandatory one year period where I could not give blood due to an accidental needle stick that I received at work. I've never been so mad at myself. A totally avoidable accident, for sure. Either way, what it meant was I was unable to give blood for a year, due to the rules of blood donation. This was a big deal to me because I had given blood on and off in my life, but never really saw the importance of it until I worked in the lab. To make it doubly important, I am Type O Negative, which means that they use my red cells for traumas and other events. The "universal donor", if you will, in that every patient can receive it without any hemolytic reaction. On the off chance I received Hepatitis C or HIV, they allow for a year to see if any of the virus becomes prevalent in the potential donor. I'll spare you even more of this part of the story, but I received a clean bill of the health from the hospital employee nurse in September, and I was ready to start donating blood again.
Now, at this point, I was about 3 weeks away from running the KC Half Marathon. I had no idea what would happen if I donated blood before the run, so I avoided doing it. One unit of blood donated would take away about 7% of your oxygen transportation, and I figured that might be kind of important when it comes to running 13.1 miles. The week after the race I went in to donate, but the hospital had been having difficulty keeping platelets in stock, so I ended up donating a double unit of platelets instead. Another platelet donation a couple of weeks later, when I was actually back doing more running, did not seem to affect my workout ability. The real test came last week when I decided to go ahead and donate some red cells. I had a little extra time when I went in, so I actually signed up to donate a double unit of red cells through apheresis. This would knock my hemoglobin down two grams, or 14% of my oxygen carrying capacity. No big deal, I thought, I would just give myself an extra day to recover.
Like I said, I sort of had an idea of what I was getting myself into, but I had to know what kind of toll it would take on me since I plan on giving blood as often as I can. I just know now that I shouldn't do it within a month or two of a race. As for the running, it was tough as hell. I set myself up to run 3 miles on the treadmill, and by the end of the second mile I was as winded as I've been since probably back in April. It was exhausting. I could feel my legs cramping and getting tight, even though I had stretched out like normal. By the time that run was over, I was spent. The next day I set my goals for a 4 mile run, just to see if it would be as tough as the first run. It was better, but not by much. I don't want to say I underestimated how tough it would be, but it certainly isn't something I would recommend to someone who isn't already into running. I mean, that might be enough for people to stop running. But, live and learn, I thought it would be a good experience and something to write about. Since I don't start training for Abilene for another month or so, I should be back to full strength when that program begins. I'll be donating again in April once that race is completed. I'm hoping I can find a way to make it work so that I can continue to donate while running and training for future races. Do you donate blood? How does it work for you? Feel free to comment, and, until next time...later.