Blood donation

Anyone have any information on the known/likely effects of blood donation on training? I'm running a fairly low mileage at the moment as I'm coming back from a long layoff, and my general health is good. I want to give blood because not enough people do, but I want to know what the effect will be on my running. Anyone?


  • I'd skip training that day, and take it easy the next. Theres no reason to not do it unless you have a big event coming up.

    (Well I advise people to take a rest - I normally dont. Sometime I get away with it, and sometimes it does take it out of me - funny feeling - its like your throat isnt wide enough to get all the air in) 

  • My experience is the same as Cougie.

    Exersise before you give on the day of donation or wait till the next day but still go a bit easy.

    I've tried to push it on the day and found myself totally wiped out. Will vary between people though.

    I'm not that much above the weight cut off of 8 stone so someone heavier may not find it takes as much out of them.

    It won't have any long term impact on training but I wouldn't give in the month leading up to an event.

  • i know they try and say that people suffer no after-effects but that is just baloney.

    Personally I would not train at all for 48-72 hours after - i have known people faint immediately upon giving blood, within an hour after and also the evening of the day they gave (my wife).

    Partic if road-running i would not take the risk.

  • An article in Omega Cycling by Dr P A Lambeti (MBBcH), said, in part:

    "A study has been done looking at the effects of blood donation on exercise performance in competitive cyclists. This study evaluated 10 male cyclists before and after phlebotomy (donating blood), to determine the effect of donation of one unit of blood on exercise performance. Each subject underwent maximal exercise testing with oxygen consumption measurement at baseline, 2 hours after phlebotomy, 2 days after phlebotomy, and 7 days after phlebotomy. The results found that maximal performance was decreased for at least one week and that submaximal performance was unaffected by blood donation.

    Thus, if you are a competitive cyclist, do not donate blood within 7 – 10 days of a competitive race, as your performance will be compromised. If you are a casual cyclist performing submaximally, you may not experience any deleterious effects apart from a higher heart rate than normal from the day after donating."

    Monster facts. Also 150,000 people faint or feel faint after giving blood each year.
  • I only do it for the biccies.
  • Same here Cougie...but I do miss the big biscut tin that you could root round in....on a good day they'd be choccy ones!

    Those little packets just aren't the same ...... bl**dy Health and Safety Regs

    I had an e-mail off the Blood bank today about on-line donation...isn't the WWW just amazingimage

  • I gave blood yesterday (24th time) and I had a Wagon Wheel AND a Kit Kat! image Cup of tea and bikkies are the only reason I go too!

    I find it does affect me...last donation I tried to do a 25 mile run and had to bail out after about 15 as I was totally wiped out. I didnt try to do that yesterday, although I did feel VERY sleepy after a couple of hours.

    Hopefulyl I will have recovered enough for the 30 mile race I have on Saturday!

    Best to take it fairly easy on the day of and day after your donation. The effects vary from person to person I reckon, but well done on giving blood.

  • I usually take multivits/ minerals (particularly iron & B12) for a couple of weeks either side of a donation. Dunno if it makes a difference, but I've not been turned away for low iron since i started doing that.
    I'd definitely not run the day of a donation (if you run before, have a proper meal first) & take the next day off. The next week I'll probably be a bit below par & I'd not give within 2 weeks of a really important race or mara to be on the safe side.

    Well done for going though.
  • I'd train on the day you giving blood and take it easy for 24 hours and then train two days afterwards with no ill affects.

    If I'm  training for an event longer than 10K and my training is going well then I give blood on one of my reduced training weeks. 

    However if it's not going well i.e. been fighting off colds and injury I don't bother. This is mainly because I've had donations rejected when I feel like that so unless I feel in fabulous health it's a waste of time going to donate. However they still give me the free biccies and I do get to leave work early. image

  • ooh carp.....30 Mi race on sat may mean I struggle!

    Toruble is all too often I am doing a long run or race, so it never really fits in with my 'schedule'....(which i make up anyway!)

  • KIT KATS ?! Where the heck do you give blood Nick ? They could take two pints if i get a kit kat. (not keen on the wagon wheels tho)
  • Thanks everyone. I'm going to donate on Friday, running beforehand, then take the weekend off. I'll report back on Monday how that morning's run goes.

    Looking forward to the biccies. I hope they have wagon wheels in Leeds. Although wagon wheels aren't as big as they used to be, are they?
  • well if the study on the cyclists who gave blood (odd that I thought pro cyclists only injected themselves with other peoples blood) is anything to go by then your performance on the 30 mile race may not be affected as its submaximal, just no sprint finish this time round! but I'm sure you can make you're own mind up if you're capable of racing that kind of distance
  • Cougie - cheltenham....helps if you get there are the start of the session....more selection! There were packets of crisps, and TUC cheesey biscuits too!

    USed to live in year at xmas they had tins of roses.....i didnt want to leave!

  • Uni blood sessions get really pants boring biscuits, & you can't book an appointment so you have to hang around ages unless you turn up an hour beforehand.
    I usually sneak off to a town session - better biscuits, nicer place (old church), & I get two cups of tea there to make sure I'm OK to cycle half-a-mile home again image
  • I was recently turned away for having (a bit) low iron for the first time in 20 years/30 donations. I could only put that down to stepping up to running 50+ miles a week and an 18 mile long run the day before, because I felt fine otherwise. Luckily, I'm injured now, so next week's donation should be fine!
  • I've got biccy jelousey.

    I may demand a better selection next time I go.

  • My report: the cakes were good but the blood donation a bit of a washout. Less than a minute into the donation I started to lose consciousness and they had to stop. They reckoned it's because my BMI is virtually Kenyan and so my body doesn't have any blood to spare. I wanted to come back and try again in a couple of weeks. I was told to come back in a few years if I put on some weight.

    I urge those of you who can give blood to do so. The stocks are severely depleted and it's immensely frustrating to want to help and not be able to. In Leeds, they have cake. Go on.
  • Daniel

    What a disappointment for you. I have plenty of fat on me. I got my blue card yesterday, as I have donated 5 times.

  • I did an 8-mile cross-county race today,6 days after giving blood, and recorded a spectacular personal worst (6minutes slower than my previous worst). I had no energy from the start and only got round thanks to sheer bloody-mindedness ! I'm definitely blaming the blood donation, otherwise I might have to face the fact that I'm getting old and decrepit...
  • I'm a nurse (and a runner!) and I can tell you that at the end of the day the benefits of giving blood far outweigh the disadvantage of having to take a couple of days off training.

    I usually run on the day before donating, then make sure I eat plenty, then take the next day off, then maybe do a short easy run the day after.

    Hope the blood donating goes well, and tell all your friends to do it!

  • hi i'm no doctor but...

    1. Giving blood means you lose some red blood cels and hence some of your ability to transfer oxygen to you muscles as effectively as previously. You will be slower

    2. so the question is how long does it take for your body to recover...A: I don't know but I would have thought it would be anything up to a week but probably 1-3 days as someone else suggested in this thread.

    3. What can you do about it? MY limited understanding is that blood is produced in your bone marrow and you need water to do it. So drink lots of water.

     If anyone (qualified) has a definitive answer I would love to know as well!!!!!!

    . I think you alos lose some cholesterol as well but that's another matter!!

  • PS I thought that having low iron (as some of you have posted) is also a sign that your body cannot properly do the oxygen transfer required by running!? From A level biochemistry 20 odd years ago iron was, I seem to remember, pretty fundamental in oxygen transfer.

    My wife ('qualified' nutritionalist) will also sadly tell you that multi vitamins are a very poor way of getting the body to absorb the iron it received from the tablets - almost to the point that you might be wasting your time taking them (can't hurt tho).

    You can get some sort of liquid that is high in iron if you think you have a problem in that area which is absorbed much better. If anyone wants to know the product drop me a line.

  • Hiya! I gave blood on Sunday morning. Went for a long run on saturday morning then made sure I 'prepared my body' - plenty of fluids, and plenty of food! I also 'ironed up' on Saturday night (Venison and green leafy veg for dinner! Yum!)

    My iron was fine (and I have been known to be refused donation due to low iron levels caused by training).

    Didn't do much on Sunday afterwards, but did have a Guiness at the pub, with my steak! And felt really light-headed after just one!

     Had a gentle run on Monday night but probably shouldn't have as I got tired really quickly.

    RE: iron tablets - I find they make me really constipated so tend to aim for the red-meat beans and green leafy veg combo! Harder if you're veggie though.

    I'd say that as long as you're not training for a serious race in the near future, give blood, and lay off the training for a couple of days. You'll lose 3 days training, no fitness, but you will save a life. Gotta be worth it hey?

  • I havent given blood for years, cos they never take it off me. I always seem to have been somewhere foreign and they don't like it (up 'em).

    But I might have to start going again, if they give out wagon wheels! And they are definately smaller than they used to be, probably some EU regulation diameter. Either that, or my mouth's got bigger. 

  • ...and you HAVE to pick up one of the stickers that says 'Be Nice To Me, I Gave Blood Today'

    Really works. Starbucks didn't charge me for my coffee last time!

    Hmm, our lot don't do wagon wheels. I might have to complain. Anyone ever tried making the Jamie Oliver ones? Messy but fun. And if you're a bit mad, you can make then as big as you like!!!

  • Giving blood does seem to have some impact on training.  I find that there is no problem training the day after a donation provided you do an easy session.  However, I find that I generally find hard sessions such as interval work more difficult than normal for about a week after donation.
  •  For my sins, I work for the Blood Service within the distribution deptartment based in Tooting - 'come the revoution' and all that.

    Just wanted to add a couple of comments and also a suggestion that some may like to take up. I checked yesterday with our nurse on duty at the Tooting donor clinic on recovery time after giving blood. It takes 12 weeks for most people to get back to normal after giving blood, however, any reasonably fit person - which we are I assume - should be able to resume normal training 12 to 24 hours after donation. This is why we can only donate every three months.

    The suggestion I wanted to make, was, has anybody considered giving platelets? The process does take longer, anything from 1 hour to two. What this entails is - the donor is hooked up to a machine that takes some blood. It spins the blood down removing the platelets and then it puts the blood back into the donor. The process is repeated until enough platelets have been collected, usually between 1 and 2 hours. Platelets are always something we struggle to get enough of and because the blood is given back to the donor,you can do this every two weeks if you wished. The other good news to go with this is that you usually get offered a sandwich aswell as the biscuits and tea! If anybody is interested, the best thing to do would be to ask at their next blood session.

    Just want to add a massive thankyou to all those who do donate. We always need your donations and I can assure you they really do save peoples lives.

  • "It takes 12 weeks for most people to get back to normal after giving blood, however, any reasonably fit person - which we are I assume - should be able to resume normal training 12 to 24 hours after donation"

    But even for us vaguely fit people it still must take weeks right? And probably not far off 12 weeks.

    Very interesting info tho and I'm genuinely surprised. Live and learn!

  • I recently gave blood and asked the same question whilst there. I was told no training the day before or for 2-3 days after if strenuous/challenging runs. Long-term it apparently improves your fitness as your body copes better with the demands and having to generate the lost blood (something fancy to do with blood cells etc)!
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