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Riding post blood donation

Old 03-22-24, 04:29 PM
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Riding post blood donation

I've been donating blood regularly since the 90's. For many years, I didn't do anything different after donating and didn't really notice any lack of energy or any other side effects. That changed some years ago when I started to notice that I could't just do whatever I felt like it the day after donating and I would feel the difference for several days.

I gave blood yesterday and went for a ride today. I would normally take the day off but I haven't been able to ride for several days and really want to get some miles in. I chose a relatively flat route and just took it really easy, covering 48 miles with only 1700ft. of climbing at a 14.5 avg. speed. Even taking it really easy, I felt pretty crappy the first 10 miles; some body aches and general lack of energy. I focused on keeping my heart rate down and cadence in the high 80's-low 90's and that worked reasonably well. As the ride went on, I started to feel better and besides being slow I feel good about the ride.

For those that give blood, wondering if you do anything different afterwards or feel the effects.
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Old 03-22-24, 06:15 PM
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I donate double reds, so I definitely notice a performance hit. I don't feel bad, but I don't sprint for the green lights for a week or so... I just get tired and winded really quickly. Endurance doesn't seem to be much of a problem if I don't do anything high intensive.
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Old 03-22-24, 07:16 PM
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Giving blood has always hit me hard. In my racing days I simply didn't. Instead, I gave platelets. Much longer donation, usually with a needle in each arm but you get all your red blood cells back and all but about 5 oz of plasma. My first platelet donation, I got off the machine, rode 20 miles to the club race, won and rode 20 miles home. Sold! (Never raced again on donation day; racing with bandages on each arm.) Gave platelets all through my three seasons of racing save time off after my big crash. And many times since. Now retired from donating because each arm has hit triple figures for needles.

A side bonus giving platelets. Several times I got hugs from total strangers on my way out. (They were donating for a loved one with cancer. Really appreciated us donors just doing it.)
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Old 03-22-24, 07:52 PM
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Men take about 21 days to replace the red blood cells given in blood donation. Taking a few days off after donating is a good thing. Rest, eat well, think good thoughts, let your body do its recovery...
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Old 03-23-24, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by zandoval
Men take about 21 days to replace the red blood cells given in blood donation. Taking a few days off after donating is a good thing. Rest, eat well, think good thoughts, let your body do its recovery...
+1.

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Old 03-23-24, 03:22 PM
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Pretend you're riding in the mountains. It's the same thing.
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Old 03-23-24, 06:30 PM
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Giving blood has always slowed me down noticeably for at least several days, which is why I have limited myself to once per year.

Someone told me that past age 75 (coming up in summer 2025), you have to get a doctor's permission to donate blood. Is that a national Red Cross thing, or just with local chapters or San Diego Blood Bank and similar regional organizations?
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Old 03-25-24, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by John E
Giving blood has always slowed me down noticeably for at least several days, which is why I have limited myself to once per year.

Someone told me that past age 75 (coming up in summer 2025), you have to get a doctor's permission to donate blood. Is that a national Red Cross thing, or just with local chapters or San Diego Blood Bank and similar regional organizations?
That’s not a Red Cross thing.
This 74 year old hasn’t donated in 6 months but am signed up for this Friday. 17 Red Cross donations in past 9 years. And a bunch more going back to my mid-twenties when my girlfriend/future wife persuaded me to donate. She was a med tech in a hospital lab and I was a nurse at the same hospital, so we both understood the need for donors.
Later, when we lived in Atlanta, I biked to and from donations with no ill effects.
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Old 03-26-24, 08:50 AM
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4 days after your blood donation your EPO levels might be higher than usual. Might be a good time to see if you can break any PR's you have.
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Old 03-26-24, 06:41 PM
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I do power reds (doubles) and have few issues even in my mid 60’s, maybe I am just lucky. 3 weeks before donation I add tons of spinach to my diet. I eat steamed vegis, salads, a lot of chicken, fish, red meat but only closer to donations. I eat practically no processed foods. Lots of hydrating in the days leading up to a donation & after. I don’t ride the day of and the day after. Good luck, it was a lifestyle change for me.
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Old 04-04-24, 01:43 PM
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Lately, I've been donating platelets instead of whole blood. The red cells are returned to your system in the process, so no anemic lethargy afterward.
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Old 04-06-24, 09:43 AM
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I've never noticed any decrease in my energy level. I don't tell the staff at the blood center that I plan to ride, because they will try to talk me out of it. Maybe I should listen, but so far, so good. It's interesting how different people have different results from donating.

I've also switched to donating platelets. They request that of frequent donors, because we've proven willingness to lie there and endure the discomfort. @79pmooney, they have changed the method so now there is only one needle. There are alternating cycles of pulling and pushing of a few minutes each.
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Old 04-07-24, 12:13 PM
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Years ago, I used to give blood fairly regularly - 3 or 4 times a year. Never noticed a problem when riding. Then one year I gave just before the FANY ride - Five hundred miles Across New York - a week long ride averaging about 70 miles a day. Started out the first day, no problem until about the 30 mile mark, I just couldn't go any more, so I pulled off the road and took a nap. Eventually made it to camp that evening. Was pretty slow for the next few days, but finished the ride OK. After that, I only give blood if I'm sure I won't be riding the next day or so. Since I try to ride every day, it means I rarely give blood any more.
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Old 04-07-24, 06:40 PM
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I started grad school in the fall, and it doesn't feel right to allocate the three hours to donate platelets, so I haven't done it. They keep calling and pleading. I'll do it when I can.
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Old 04-11-24, 07:52 AM
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In my college days no problem which is good as I only had a bike, in my 70s I always take a rest day. There is no reason to push beyond the recommendations. I am type O neg the universal donor so get strongly prompted by the red cross if I am slow to return.
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Old 04-11-24, 08:23 AM
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I'm in my mid-50s and I do endurance and ultra-endurance events, I've regularly donated whole blood for 10+ years but I'll avoid donating 8-10 weeks prior to an event.

I've biked to donation centers (we're a car-lite house, I bike most places I go), and that gets some interesting responses from the folks at the donation center. Like the OP, I focus on my heart rate riding home from the donation and take a week off any intense training, but will ride for errands/commuting. As I've gotten older, I feel the effects of donating more, I'd describe it like the day after an endurance event - feeling tired, weak, no real power in the legs.

I take iron supplements 3 times a week while training; and prior to donating, I'll go to daily iron supplements a week prior to donating and 3 weeks after ... and don't forget to get your vitamin C to help with iron absorption.

I saw a post or two talking about double-red donations, I have to say that double-red donation wrecked me for a couple weeks, I've read that endurance athletes suffer double-red more than the general population.

All that said, every body is different, and it's critical we all listen to our body and it's needs.

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Old 04-11-24, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Hypno Toad
I saw a post or two talking about double-red donations, I have to say that double-red donation wrecked me for a couple weeks,
I had a lab tech check my hematocrit before AND after a double red donation once - it was a noticeable drop for sure.

*Found it: my hematocrit dropped from 43.8 to 38.7
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