Life, Running

A Rush of Blood

It’s been a bit of a week.

Anne has banned me from running until Monday. It would have been a lot longer but I start the first session of a Runners Movement Workshop then and I can’t miss that.

A bit harsh you might say but probably necessary given that I managed to faint (for the first time ever) after giving blood on Tuesday.

So here’s the thing. I’m not squeamish at all, I don’t mind needles, and I find the way the clear tubes running from my arm suddenly turning a ruby red absolutely fascinating. So this wasn’t one of those kinds of faints. I’m actually still pondering as to why it happened at all as I’ve given blood in the past, perfectly successfully, when my iron levels haven’t been too low.

An NHS screen in the main hall of Hulme Hall, Port Sunlight
Getting ready for the prick test

I’ve had a knock back on that score a few times. That swift and surprisingly painful prick test that they do to see if your globule of blood sinks in the liquid or not, has been a barrier that I’ve sometimes not been able to surmount. I’ve seen my little drop, lie atop the liquid happily treading water, showing zero signs of containing any heavy elements.

This time, I watched it drop in, think about swimming for a second or two, before deciding to descend gracefully to the depths. The iron tablets that I take sporadically were obviously working.

The actual giving blood bit, which takes around ten/fifteen minutes, was also successfully administered. It was only after, when I sat in a chair to quaff the squash and munch on the orange Club that I began to feel a little strange. Having never fainted before, I didn’t realise that this strangeness (a light dizziness that grew in intensity) was the precursor to finding myself on the floor, on my back with my legs elevated on a stool.

The nurse had helpfully pulled a screen around me to shield my position from inquisitive onlookers, and, probably, to not put off potential blood donors. And actually, the two nurses were amazing.

It was about half an hour or so before I felt well enough to sit up without getting seriously woozy. Anne had come to pick me up in the car, as I’d walked over to Hulme Hall, where the donations were happening that day.

There were a few reasons which, all put together, could have made me keel over then, but as the nurse had told me that I was being banned from giving blood in the future, or words to that effect, I now wish I’d considered them before.

Firstly, there were a lot of family events that weekend, which had involved a bit of alcohol being consumed. The last of which was on Monday. Now, I’d drunk a lot of water to compensate throughout the weekend but some of it must still have been sloshing in my system. Secondly, I’d eaten quite a big lunch, not long before going to give blood, and I’m wondering if it had been a bit of a shock to the digestive system while it was still going about its work. Third and fourthly, I’d been a small, very gentle 2.5 mile run in the morning, and the hall was a tad warm, as the weather was a little more than clement that day.

My favoured position, for the rest of Tuesday, was definitely horizontal, but the next day, I felt completely fine, apart from the tiredness. I figured that I’d be well enough to get to the track session that’s held at the club every month, on Thursday night.

I’ve only ever done one of these before so I desperately wanted to go. As it was at the Oval, I jogged over very slowly. I promised Anne that I’d stop as soon as I felt at all odd. It was a mix of fast and slow runners from our club, but I’m glad the slower runners had come to give it a go. It can feel pretty intimidating, especially as young kids whizz past you on their own training sessions. But doing a regular speed session, whatever your ability, is a crucial way to help develop you as a runner.

Part of a running track in the the evening.
A glorious evening at the Oval (where they filmed Chariots of Fire)

I was somewhere in the middle of the group with my running ability and the kids were still sailing past me, but I’ve got to the point where I’m comfortable with other people doing their stuff. As one of the women there said, when she’d come last in a 20 mile race in preparation for a marathon. How many people can say they ran 20 miles?

The longest distance Mark got us to run this evening was 1 mile. I managed it in nine minutes, which I was pleased with. The shorter, faster runs after this were what started to undo me, and I decided to call it quits a little before the end. I was fine but I got Anne to pick me up again, just to be on the safe side, which was when she banned me for the rest of the week. Obviously, in her case it was two strikes before you’re out.

So, there is no moral to this story, other than to appreciate that your body does amazing things and we should treat it with enormous respect, and perhaps to time blood donations a little more sensibly.