Swim 2500m & non-blood donation

AM. Swim 2500m/41 easy. HR 135(142)

Arms a bit stiff and tired from last night’s weights. Took it fairly easy.

PM. Failed to give blood. :-(

As I’m not doing much training at the moment, and racing’s none too serious (my sore knee means I can’t do the Watford Half this weekend), I booked myself in for a blood donation. I usually go twice a year, in the off season, once in October and once in January. Unfortunately, my haemoglobin count was too low for me to be able to donate. I never used to have a problem (I’ve given blood over 15 times), but it’s happened four times now in the past few years. Ironic that I’m considered so fit and healthy, but my blood counts are so low. Last time around I had a full blood screen to see if anything was wrong and also to see if I could donate platelets instead, but it didn’t throw up anything unusual, except that all my counts (platelet, white cell..) were low (too low for platelet donation too!). I often take some extra-strength iron tablets around the time of donation (200mg, instead of the usual 15mg in my multivits), and this sometimes works, but they’re not the most pleasant things – they make your stomach turn a bit. There’s often an increase in blood plasma volume following a few days hard training which can dilute your cell counts, but I’ve not been doing much lately.

Haematocrit & haemoglobin
The limit for donation is 13.5 g/dL, and last night I was 12.8g/dL (I’ve often been rejected with a level around 12.7 g/dL). When Michael Rasmussen was thrown off the 2007 tour, Rabobank published his haematocrit/haemoglobin levels:
(from http://imagebank.ipcmedia.com/imageBank/r/rasmussen-table.jpg)

Out of curiosity, I plotted those and got this graph: 


which implies that my haematocrit’s around the 37% mark – not great for an athlete, but it might explain why I’ve tended to favour events that require extreme endurance over those that need shorter, harder efforts. Last time I took an estimate of my VO2max it was in the a fairly normal-for-a-fit-man range of around 60-65 ml/kg/min, so that’s not affected.