Gotta Run: Low iron level forces a delay in blood donation

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 24, 2022

Sometimes things get a little more complicated, especially when I back myself into a corner. That is just what I did when I wrote Part 1 of this column and submitted it for printing last Sunday. All I needed to do was give blood and then write specifically about what happened with my running, and to give a short list of other benefits worth mentioning for having done so.

I have given blood something over 30 times by my best count. Not once have I been refused from doing so, until this past week. I was originally scheduled to give blood on Wednesday, Dec. 14, at the Civic Center. My morning run was completed at 6:45 a.m., which is normal. My iron level was low on both attempts during the mini-physical, and I was not allowed to give.

Immediately, I scheduled to give last Sunday afternoon at St. Luke’s Lutheran. I had run hard and well that morning, but I got bumped again because my blood pressure was too high. Twice checked, that’s all the opportunities you get.

Few challenges cause me to give up, so I committed to an appointment at Fieldstone Presbyterian in Mooresville on Monday. My iron, hydration and blood pressure had checked out well since mid-morning. This time all went perfectly, and total time for check-in, giving and getting a snack was about 50 minutes. I had a great experience, especially once the pressure was off and I knew the donation was going to happen! The church and Red Cross volunteers were wonderful, especially after I told them I was a competitive giver. Total time— 4 minutes and 9 seconds of actual blood flowing, greatly helped by proper hydration.

The Red Cross website says to not do strenuous exercise before giving, and on Monday morning I did not run. I did eat and drink water for 15 minutes before leaving the donation site, and never felt dizzy or lightheaded. That has only happened to me once, and admittedly I left the snack area almost as soon as I got to it. Again, proper hydration is important, and the small amount of food helps stabilize your blood sugar. Donors are told to eat and hydrate well that night and do nothing overly strenuous for the rest of the day.

As I mentioned last week, an exerciser should only notice decreased performance for a day or two as the body makes up the pint of blood taken that quickly. Red blood cells take longer, but again after a couple days exercisers should feel normal.

By giving blood:

  • You will have an opportunity to potentially save the lives of three people.
  • You get blood pressure, pulse, iron, and body temperature checks, all possibly making you aware of a health situation.
  • Regularly donating blood helps build new blood cells which help with overall health.
  • Donating helps regulate iron stores which in excess can harm the liver and the heart.
  • The psychological benefit of knowing that you are helping others. Similar to volunteer work, simply giving of your time to benefit strangers. Getting out of your usual environment to do this leads to positive thoughts as does your interaction with the Red Cross staff.

The moment of truth was Tuesday morning as I went out for my usual morning run. I decided to just let the run come to me instead of pushing the pace or distance. I felt good from the start, so good that I decided to go a normal distance for me, ending at 5.13 miles. My effort was easy and nearly as good as the last run on the day before the blood donation almost 14 hours before.

Bottom line, you can give blood and feel good that your exercise will only be minimally affected. Please consider joining me in giving blood by going to and clicking on “find a blood drive.” It’s easy, fun and good for others.

Our next race locally is just ahead on Jan. 2 with the Bradshaw Financial Planning Resolution Run 5K. Look for it and other events, including the next Self Defense Seminar at Sidekick Karate on Jan. 21 at

Merry Christmas to all!