Blood and platelet donation and long walks

Weather: not that bad; 65 F, 84 percent at the start; 80 F, 50 percent at the end. But while the first 6-7 miles were easy (under 30 at Dozer; 36 at Hooters), the final 8 were a real struggle. I was 2:03 at Bishop Hill, 2:40 at the Tower and 3:10 at Sheridan/Northmore (1:55 return) and 3:40 at my second Tower visit. Final 5 miles: 1:12:21; time was 5:04 (did an extra goose loop to get full 20).

I did have to do a trail bypass (parking lot) near the Riverplex. Sights; rabbits, ground hogs and the usual.

Though this was my best 20 mile walk in a long time ..since 2014 I had ONE 20 training walk that was maybe 1-2 minutes faster, and that was on a 50 F degree day. Otherwise, only my first 20 of last year’s marathon (just under 4:44) was faster. I cannot discount that.

Still, the platelet donation on Thursday afternoon had an effect

Your body contains approximately10 pints of blood, one of which you give away during a “whole blood” donation. One pint of blood is also referred to as 450-500 ml, or one unit. Donating one-tenth of our blood may seem hefty until you consider that a car crash victim could need up to 100 pints of blood to survive (1)!

After donation, your body goes to work regenerating the lost blood. Your plasma recovers the quickest, in about 24 hours (9). The Red Cross recommends no strenuous exercise during this period until your “fluid” or plasma normalizes (9). Platelets restore next, within a 72-hour period (13). The oxygen carriers or RBCs – unfortunately for athletes – are the slowest to regenerate, taking four to six weeks to fully rebound (9).

The lag in RBC recovery is an obvious indicator that an athlete’s endurance performance will suffer until pre-donation levels are restored. Several studies have reported significant drops in performance measures from 24 hours to two days post-donation in active young adults, including VO2 max, work rate (4,5,6,7), and time to exhaustion (5). Dellweg et al. reported a 9% decrease in VO2 max, and a 13% drop in maximal work rate following a 500-ml whole blood donation (6).

Now whole blood degrades my “2 hours sustained pace” intensity workouts for 4-6 weeks. Double red cells: ugh. That totally whips me for 2 months or more…the next couple of weeks, my legs are like cement poles.

Platelets: I am usually good to go 3-4 days later..though shorter, medium intensity, medium duration workouts are not affected much. And today, I felt good for almost 3 hours.

My mind

It went something like this: early in my return to running, I built up gradually (first time: via a marathon class) and felt myself getting more confident.

Ultra days: “…I’ll stop at a marathon.” No biggie. I’d even do 30-40 mile training walks. No problem.

But with over doing the ultras and increasing age…the failures started to build up..there were MANY bad training sessions; many times when I failed.

Now (and really…since 2010 or so..after my last knee operation ): every long walk is a bit like a race in that I get nervous and worry about failure. The failures live with me. And THAT is mental.

Bottom line: I got it done today.

Baseline walk

Well, am I in shape to train for a walking marathon? There was only one way to find out. Yes, it was warm; 70 F just prior to starting out (87 percent humidity) and 87 F at the finish. Whew. I was 1:01 at 4, 1:16 at 5, 1:29 at the tower and 2:05 at mile 8, and 4:09 at the end of the 15.75 course (took the goose loop) and added an extra .4 past Markin to get 16.

Amusing: I saw Jehovah’s Witnesses near the Farmers Market and outdoor stuff by the River..and animal rights protesters outside the restaurant. I also saw a few from this morning’s 5K.

My mind churned through election stuff while I walked. I saw a few runners here and there. Lots of sun..and some heat conditioning.

So, am I ready to start training? Ugh…15:56 mpm..but I was averaging right at 15 before the temperatures started to climb. The good news: it really wasn’t much of an effort. And training (and weight loss) will make me faster.

I’ll attempt a couple of more longish walks than then reevaluate.

Comment: ok, these are the days where I actually like Peoria: it was a pleasant (if warm) walk; got to see different neighborhoods, good views of the Illinois River, woods, mansions, Riverfront, Dozer Park, etc.