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Old 05-10-14, 01:05 PM   #1
John E
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blood donation impact on performance

I don't know about the rest of you, but donating blood has always reduced my bicycling performance by a good 10% for at least a week or two. This makes some sense to me, since one donates roughly 10% of one's total capacity.

I was reminded of this phenomenon today -- I gave blood after lunch on Tuesday, and when I rode the Bianchi this morning I found myself gearing down lower than usual on the climbs and against headwinds.
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Old 05-10-14, 01:35 PM   #2
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I'd say that's right.
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Old 05-10-14, 01:54 PM   #3
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I don't notice it beyond two or three days.
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Old 05-10-14, 02:40 PM   #4
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A week or two seems like a long recovery time to me. When I was in my 20's I commuted to work in a small hospital. If we had an emergency, I could get paid for a blood donation and, at the time, I really needed the money. After donating, I'd drink the orange juice, ride my bike home, and never thought a thing of it. Not only did I not keep track of things like time, distance or speed in those days, but that was before bike computers even existed.
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Old 05-10-14, 05:46 PM   #5
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I've noticed very similar performance drop offs.
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Old 05-10-14, 07:04 PM   #6
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Yep, and it seems to be age-relates as to how long it affects you. Back when I was 30, I'd recover in 3 days or so. By the time I crossed the 50 mark it was taking a week. And there was no season when I could afford a week's recovery. My donations became very sporadic, and finally stopped about 5 years ago.
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Old 05-10-14, 08:54 PM   #7
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Very hilly 50 mile ride last Saturday after donating on Tuesday. Felt shy of a full load of RBC's on the climbs but made it without trouble. Not very fast on the ride but that's my norm.
Don't think much data exists on the effects of regular blood donation.
Would be interested in knowing my blood levels of Hct, Hgb, etc. for the week or two post-donation. I donate about four times a year.
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Old 05-11-14, 10:22 AM   #8
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I have my doubts that giving blood one day would affect performance 4 days later. With that said, this is a my personal anecdote..

Last fall I was having an extensive series of blood tests and one day had to give up 18 vials of blood in one sitting. I asked the phlebotomist if I could exercise that afternoon and she told me I could and it would not be a problem. She had no idea I was headed out on my bike for a somewhat hilly 30 miles.

After a light lunch I headed out. About 12 miles in I bonked, HARD. That particular loop is normally an afterthought to me, can typically do it with little water and no in-ride nutrition. Fortunately I had some peanut butter with me, but it took about 40 minutes to feel the energy from it. I guess the word exercise means different things to different people.
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Old 05-11-14, 11:02 AM   #9
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Blood doping is donating blood for storage, and after the body replenishes itself of red blood cells you put the ones removed back in ..

As I understand , the Racers get caught because they cannot wait for the performance dip to pass ,
and use someone else's blood and the DNA conflicts are detectable. or take EPO , a pharmaceutical for anemia, that is also detected.
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Old 05-11-14, 11:31 AM   #10
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Can't say I've noticed an effect. On the other hand, there are apparently benefits from giving blood - kind of a 'renewal' I guess.
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Old 05-11-14, 12:17 PM   #11
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Not allowed to donate anymore and miss doing so.

oops, link discontinued, sorry

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Old 05-11-14, 03:03 PM   #12
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I tried that once giving plasma, on either the same day or the day after, don't remember which. Not only did it affect my ride but people were looking at me and telling me I was white as a ghost immediately upon my return from my ride.
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Old 05-11-14, 03:04 PM   #13
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I would say it depends on how hard you are riding. When I was young(er) and strong(er) I commuted by bicycle, about 12 miles each way. Gave blood every 8-10 weeks. Then met some folks who did a weekly ride, 30-50 miles, I had to really struggle to keep up! The first time I went after giving blood, after about 3 miles I realized it was not going to work.
It actually takes a few weeks to replace the red cells (4-6 is probably the ballpark) although the plasma volume is back after a couple of days, so if you are really training hard, and especially if you are monitoring speed, heartrate, power, I'm not surprised that you would notice a difference for at least a couple of weeks.
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Old 05-11-14, 05:47 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Blood doping is donating blood for storage, and after the body replenishes itself of red blood cells you put the ones removed back in ..

As I understand , the Racers get caught because they cannot wait for the performance dip to pass ,
and use someone else's blood and the DNA conflicts are detectable. or take EPO , a pharmaceutical for anemia, that is also detected.
The original blood doping scandal of modern times was by the US cycling team at the '84 olympics in LA. There were no rules or laws against it at the time even though it was unethical and extremely dangerous, as other people's blood was used.
Interesting account: Vampirism at the Olympics
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Old 05-11-14, 06:01 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JanMM View Post
The original blood doping scandal of modern times was by the US cycling team at the '84 olympics in LA. There were no rules or laws against it at the time even though it was unethical and extremely dangerous, as other people's blood was used.
Interesting account: Vampirism at the Olympics
It should me mentioned that neither of the two road race gold medalists were thought to have taken part in the transfusions. Alexi Grewal was estranged from head coach Edward Borysewicz who didn't even want him on the team (not known as a team player then). Borysewicz actually conspired with the other riders to work against Grewal in the qualifiers but he qualified anyway.

Connie Carpenter Phinney was horrified at what was going on and rightfully concluded that it would taint their victories. IOW, she didn't need it. Silver medalist Rebecca Twig was the highest road race medalist thought to be in on the transfusions.
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Old 05-11-14, 06:04 PM   #16
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If you gave 10% of your blood volume two things happen. You lose 10% of your red blood cells and you lose the actual volume of blood. This reduces the ability to get oxygen into your muscle cells. You will reach your anaerobic threshold at a lower work load. Replenish your volume by hydrating well. Your body will take care of the rest by manufacturing new red cells. Until then you will have a drop in performance. How long this takes for full recovery depends on your age and general health.
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Old 05-11-14, 06:32 PM   #17
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I wrote up some experiences here: Donating Blood Cells
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Old 05-11-14, 07:32 PM   #18
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I gave blood last Sunday, and I had a harder time with a 25 mile ride yesterday than I did a 30 mile ride the day before my donation... I hadn't considered the blood donation as an issue, but now I wonder. I'll need to see how I do next week.
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Old 05-12-14, 02:31 PM   #19
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I used to not notice giving blood and gave a lot of it. In 2011, at the age of 65, I gave a pint less than a week before the start of the FANY ride, a supported tour, Five hundred miles Across New York, in 7 days, so typically, 70 miles a day. I felt fine for the first 30 miles or so each day, but then felt out of energy for the remainder of each day's ride. Once I stopped in the middle of nowhere, laid on a guard rail (some roads in NY have square cross section guard rails!) and took a nap!

In early 2012, I had a knee replacement. I had to bank my own blood for the surgery. Six weeks before, give a pint and 4 weeks before give a second pint. My hematocrit (or whatever it is they measure) had not recovered in two weeks, so I was given a list of iron rich foods to eat and told to come back in a week. Fortunately, I was able to bank the second pint 3 weeks before.

So, it seems it takes me several weeks (if not the full 8 weeks they want between donations) for my red blood cells to recover. I've stopped giving blood although I would do it for a real emergency.

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Old 05-12-14, 02:43 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Blood doping is donating blood for storage, and after the body replenishes itself of red blood cells you put the ones removed back in ..

As I understand , the Racers get caught because they cannot wait for the performance dip to pass ,
and use someone else's blood and the DNA conflicts are detectable. or take EPO , a pharmaceutical for anemia, that is also detected.
An autologous blood transfusion. (aka "blood doping"), is drawing your own blood, then re-injecting it either just before a race, or during a multi-day stage race when you need the recovery effect. The intention is *not* to use someone else's blood, but Tyler Hamilton had that happen when either his doctor, (or the doctors assistant), mixed up the blood bags. Depending on the blood types of donor and recipient, it could have been a bad situation.

Another problem Tyler described in his book, is if the blood deteriorates before it is re-used. He became sick as hell from that once.
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Old 05-12-14, 03:46 PM   #21
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I've regularly given blood and rode the next day to work. Now that's not a long ride but I haven't noticed any impact, nor have I noticed anything on the weekend (blood donations are generally on a Thursday for me). It might not mean anything because if I'm a bit slower than the typical pace I would be unlikely to notice it and chalk it up to another factor (wind, going too fast early, different route etc). I know they say no heavy lifting for 24hrs after but nothing about riding
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Old 05-12-14, 07:10 PM   #22
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I used to be able to recover within a day or two of donating until I turned 50. After that it now takes me about a week to recover. I don't feel tired but I have trouble catching my breath if my heart rate goes over 80%.
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Old 05-12-14, 08:13 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
An autologous blood transfusion. (aka "blood doping"), is drawing your own blood, then re-injecting it either just before a race, or during a multi-day stage race when you need the recovery effect. The intention is *not* to use someone else's blood, but Tyler Hamilton had that happen when either his doctor, (or the doctors assistant), mixed up the blood bags. Depending on the blood types of donor and recipient, it could have been a bad situation.

Another problem Tyler described in his book, is if the blood deteriorates before it is re-used. He became sick as hell from that once.
The '84 Olympics blood doping scandal involved the use of other people's blood (OPB!).
The slightly-less-crazy technique of blood doping is autologous.
Either way, blood transfusion for fun/sport is completely nuts.

Blood donation, on the other hand, is usually a good thing.
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Old 05-12-14, 09:07 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JanMM View Post
The '84 Olympics blood doping scandal involved the use of other people's blood (OPB!).
The slightly-less-crazy technique of blood doping is autologous.
Either way, blood transfusion for fun/sport is completely nuts.

Blood donation, on the other hand, is usually a good thing.
Interesting. It was not against the rules until 1985:
List of doping cases in cycling - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 05-13-14, 06:25 AM   #25
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I give platelets regularly but not whole blood or plasma. I've had radiation of the pelvis and am prone to anemia but have the ability to give full donations of platelets without a problem.
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