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Training & Nutrition Learn how to develop a training schedule that's good for you. What should you eat and drink on your ride? Learn everything you need to know about training and nutrition here.

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Old 03-07-12, 02:28 PM   #1
kv501
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Training after blood donation

I am fairly new to serious road cycling, and I have a question regarding training after donating whole blood. I have been using a stationary trainer for the first time over the past few weeks, and everything seems to be going well. I am able to maintain an average HR of around 175-178 for an hour and a half without feeling bad (31 years old, 230 lbs). Not new to exercise (running, lifting, etc.)

I regularly donate whole blood, and was wondering if I should lay off the trainer for a few days after, or just get on and let my body tell me. Something tells me that those kinds of heart rates might not be good for me right away. One of my secondary goals is weight loss, so I'd like to consistently stay on the bike. My main cycling goal is becoming stronger on the bike because I enjoy it, so if hitting it hard after donations would set me back I'd rather not do that.

During the spring/summer/fall I plan on at least 100 miles a week, so I will probably give up the donating until winter. However, I want to keep donating during the winter and was wondering what some of your experiences might have been. Thanks in advance.
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Old 03-07-12, 02:50 PM   #2
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My experience is that I'm very sluggish for the few following days after a whole blood donation. However, in the past few years I've been a regular platelet donor. The hemapheresis procedure is a bit longer (60-90 min for a unit of platelets plus plasma) but you keep nearly all your RBCs, watch a movie, get double credit for donation, and get to eat the same amount of cookies. If your blood center offers it, it's worth asking about.
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Old 03-07-12, 02:56 PM   #3
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Actually our nearest blood center is 80 miles away; they have a mobile unit that comes to my employer every 8 weeks. Very convenient and you never have to schedule appointments or drive.

I think I'll hop on tonight and do a half hour or so at 160ish HR and see how I feel. Does that sound reasonable?
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Old 03-07-12, 02:59 PM   #4
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I think you'll be okay as long as you don't fall off the trainer and hit your head. A couple of other thoughts: it might be better to go longer but easier, keeping it under 140 or so. The other thing is if you can plan it out, do a very intense session right before your donation, then take the day of the donation off.
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Old 03-07-12, 03:11 PM   #5
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I think you'll be okay as long as you don't fall off the trainer and hit your head. A couple of other thoughts: it might be better to go longer but easier, keeping it under 140 or so. The other thing is if you can plan it out, do a very intense session right before your donation, then take the day of the donation off.
I'll give that a shot and report back afterwards. For the sake of experimentation I'll do 45 min to an hour at 140 max and see what happens.
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Old 03-07-12, 03:14 PM   #6
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Good luck! And seriously, back off or stop if you get dizzy.
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Old 03-07-12, 03:53 PM   #7
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Will do. I know what that feels like. Last year I gave a double red, forgot about it, went home and push-mowed my lawn (which is huge and normally done with a rider). About 5 minutes after that I felt the way John Candy looked in the "Big Bear Chase Me" scene from The Great Outdoors. For those of you unfamiliar with it, Google.

It was not pretty.
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Old 03-07-12, 09:52 PM   #8
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The last time I donated blood I played in a rec softball game a few hours later in Texas summer heat.
I had chest pains and saw black with stars just warming up for the game.

Giving blood is a wonderful thing to do but you should temper your expectations, notch intensity way down and give your body a break afterwards for a day or two.
It's already been through enough stress without adding a hard training session or a competition too.
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Old 03-07-12, 11:55 PM   #9
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on a couple of rides during the last year i ran into the blood mobile, so i stopped and gave them a pint. i continured my ride (about 25miles) with no ill effects.

BTW, you know, they gave me a free t-shirt the first time, so when i went in for the second time i asked if they had any underware. they said no...

can't hurt to ask.
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Old 03-08-12, 02:48 PM   #10
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Take it easy for the first few days, and see how it goes. I usually recover for a brisk ride within two days, but it takes me about five to get back into shape for a fast run.
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Old 03-09-12, 08:41 AM   #11
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Update...

Well, I didn't get to ride that night after work, but I did last night (1 day post donation), and I felt pretty good. I didn't ride the trainer like I said I would; I live in NW Iowa and try to ride outside anytime the weather is over 40 degrees. The wind was brutal, however.

Did a fairly easy 12 mi shot around my town on the local MUP, (as easy as it gets in a 25 mph headwind), and my HR stayed right at 165-70 for the majority of it. Never had any lightheadedness, no spots, and never felt out of breath. I felt really good when I got home and to tell the truth it felt no different than most other rides. I do think that the headwind made breathing easier, as strange as that sounds. I think I'm going to hit the trainer a little harder tonight (my 5 y.o. and I are home alone) and see what happens. No intervals, just steady 85-90 RPM.

One thing I think helps in my case is that I'm about 6', 230 lbs. A pint of blood is proportionally less significant to my body than a 130lb guy. Resting pulse in the morning floats around 45, and my blood pressure is usually right around 100/60. I figured with my lower than average BP that it might cause some trouble but not so (yet anyway). I'll check back.
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Old 03-12-12, 05:39 PM   #12
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I only donate in the winter when I'm not riding (much). I feel ok in my daily life after I donate but get weak and tired fast when I exercise for the next 10 days or so.
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Old 03-13-12, 06:23 AM   #13
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I did 20 miles last night (25 mph wind again thanks to NW Iowa), and I felt great. Average HR of 174. I haven't noticed any abnormal soreness or fatigue, just an overwhelming urge to drink 5 gallons of Gatorade when I get home. I stay hydrated on the ride and don't get overly thirsty, but holy cow, when I get home I'm like a camel. This is the only thing I see different and I guess I can live with that.
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Old 03-13-12, 06:24 AM   #14
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Platelets are also in demand. Most large hospitals have a pathology department and they monitor the blood bank. Just ask what's needed because it changes.
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Old 03-13-12, 09:33 AM   #15
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I would definitely do that if I could. The nearest center is 80 miles away. If you lived nearby a BioLife center it'd be like having a part time job. My cousin goes in twice a week and makes $295.00 a month
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Old 03-13-12, 12:40 PM   #16
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Holy crap. I've been giving mine away for free. Well, I do eat a boatload of cookies, so I've got that going for me. Which is nice.

Unfortunately, I've been in a malarial zone, so I'm ineligible until next fall.
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Old 03-14-12, 01:43 PM   #17
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Must depend on where you are. No $ available here.
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Old 03-14-12, 10:25 PM   #18
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I'm up to about 5 gallons now. However, my last donation left me below par for 6 weeks. It may have something to do with my age - 63 - but that was definitely a bummer. Now I'm kind of on the fence about donating again. It took me a long time just to get back to normal again.

This didn't happen to me at all when I was in my 50's. It may be a by-product of aging.
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Old 09-26-13, 01:05 PM   #19
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Resurrecting this thread because I just realized that my donation one week ago today has kicked my a$$.
I have donated whole blood dozens of times without effect. Last week, they talked me into double red cell, saying the replacement of my plasma would leave me feeling fully hydrated.
I felt fine afterward and didn't think anything about it. Until today, I hadn't associated the donation with my dead legs and heavy breathing on routine hills.
Duh, right? I thought it was the years and fall allergies suddenly taking their toll.
Now I read that it takes months to fully replace the red cells.
I'm a daily commuter, not a racer, so it's not too big a deal, but I was thinking of riding a century in three weeks. Now I'm not so sure.
Any nutritional advice for more rapid replacement of red cells?

Last edited by globie; 09-26-13 at 01:07 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 09-27-13, 07:02 PM   #20
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I don't know if specific nutrition will speed up the process of making new red blood cells. It usually takes 4-6 weeks for your body to replace them.

After I donate I take iron supplements and those help me to feel better when exercising.
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