Blodomloppet Stockholm is an annual running party in the spirit of public health, which highlights the importance of donating blood. This raises the question: how are running and blood donations compatible? To get clarity, we have met Helena Olmås, a passionate runner and blood donor since 20 years, who shares her experience of how it works.
1. What was it that inspired you to start donating blood?
A colleague brought me to a blood donation centre 20 years ago. She had a relative who was in great need of blood transfusion and that was why she had started donating blood. I also wanted to contribute, and simultaneously saw it as a great opportunity to treat my fear of blood, which I suffered quite a lot from back then.
2. How often do you donate blood?
As often as I can! I work in a sector where I need to travel frequently, which means that I have had less opportunity to donate blood in recent years, due to the rules regarding travel to countries where malaria is common. But during the pandemic I have been home in Sweden and have thus had the opportunity to donate blood 3 times/year again.
3. A common idea is that the body needs a long time to recover after blood donations. How do you cope with physical performance after blood donations?
In recent years, I have run several times per week and learned how my body reacts after blood donations. I do not experience any major differences, given that I take care of my diet and hydrate. I always rest the day of the blood donation, even if I do not feel very tired, but the next day I am running and training again.
4. How long does it usually take for you to feel normal again?
My heart rate gets slightly elevated for a few weeks afterwards, but I tell myself that it is good for the heart to work a little extra. It becomes a little extra cardio training! However, I make sure not to donate blood for the next two weeks before I run a race, since I want to feel that my body is with me 100% on the race day.
5. What do you usually eat to recover quickly after blood donation?
I always take my iron pills. Over the years I have learned to choose the capsules over the tablets and take them every other day to be kind to the stomach. Other than that, I eat as usual. My diet is always varied and I make sure to get what I need. I eat meat less and less frequently, but like fish. Also trying to eat colorful produce and get enough carbs to run as much as I do. My blood count usually looks nice and healthy when I'm at Blodcentralen, so I'm doing something right.
6. How did you prepare for the start of the digital Bloodomloppet Stockholm 2021?
Since I am lucky enough to love running, I did not need to prepare with any special training programs - I run as usual, relaxed a little the day before the race and made sure to get good energy on the race day. Then I just tied my shoe laces and let my legs do what they love!
7. Why do you think one should participate in the virtual Blodomloppet this summer?
For me, it is important to spread the word about blood donations and Blodomloppet plays an important role for this! There are still so many people who could donate blood but who do not, and in all honesty I think it is a result of ignorance.
If people understood that blood donations is not only for emergency operations and car accidents - but that people with for example chronic diseases do not survive without continuous blood transfusions - I think more people would be inclined to donate blood.
Also, I think people should participate because it's fun to run races with a bunch of colleagues - the joy of running together should really not be underestimated!
Welcome to the finish line Helena, and good luck in your continued fight for your own and others' health, says TCS Lidingöloppet!
Follow Helena's example: run the virtual Blodomloppet Stockholm and share the message on donating blood! The traditional course around Djurgårdsbrunn will have markers until the 20th of June, and after that the race can be carried out on any track, together or individually, until the 9 of September.