Blood dope

It’s now a week since my first course of leeches. I mean, since the doc stuck a needle in me and drained away 250ml of very dark red blood. Sure, 250ml isn’t much, considering blood donors normally part with twice that, but I still felt very dopey and vague for the rest of the day. Lightheaded and thirsty. A week later, I’m feeling much better. It appears the haemochromatosis was playing havoc with my system. And with a little less blood, things started to even out. Bad pun warning: the body is ironing things out.

After extensive online research, I can’t find any active (kind of serious) endurance athletes who have this condition. Former Australian triathlete Greg Welch has it, but he doesn’t race any more due to rapid heartbeat problems. As the HC only starts to have an impact later in life, from mid-to-late 30s on, it’s no surprise that few athletes are diagnosed with it. So, I may be something of a test subject. Can a person have HC and still be a successful endurance athlete? Or does the HC greatly impact training and performance?

I can say this: I gave blood a week ago. The following day, I ran 10km (in -8°!!!!), then had a rest day, then ran 12km on Monday, swam 3.5km on Tuesday and 3km on Wednesday, ran 18km on Thursday, biked 40km on Friday. Which is actually pretty good. It shows that giving a little blood doesn’t impact my training that much. With smart scheduling, I should be able to continue racing. I should add that the 18km run was easy (and it was -5°). And it got me wondering if the blood-letting will actually help my training and racing. Normally on long runs, I start to feel sluggish in the second half, but on this one felt light and fresh. And I’m definitely in a much better mood.

So, let the blood run free.


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