Blood Donor & 1/2M Runner

I am just wondering if there is any medical research provides evidence that a regular blood donor has better lung function due to reproduction of red cell in the blood? Or, even there isn’t any medical evidence, could this be true? If you want to donate blood, what is the best time to do so? Before or after a 1/2M? How far before or after?


  • SeelaSeela ✭✭✭

    I'm up to donation number 48, and in my experience I need to allow at least 3 days before running a half marathon.

    I did the Blackmore Vale 1/2 after giving blood on the friday eveing and I got to 9 miles before I was totally knackeredit was a bit like hitting a mini-wall). I had been running with two friends and we would all have expected to finish in about the same time. My pace dropped fro 8 to 10 minutes per mile.

    Giving blood after a 1/2 (i.e. the next day) has not cause me any problems.
  • Can't quote you specific medical research off hand, but I would go for shortly after. If you donate too close before a 1/2M your body won't have time to replace the red cells you lose, and you will be racing with a reduced oxygen transport capacity, which is likely to negatively affect performance.
  • unless you are a very serious runner, I think this is a pretty bizarre way to even contemplate trying to improve your performance.

    Ever considered the old fashioned route... training more?
  • I am not sure if there is any research proving it improves your lung function, although I don't see how it would give you anymore oxygen carrying capacity in the long run. In fact, as above, while you are replenishing the red blood cells you have lost (you make the actual fluid volume up quite quickly-within 24 hours I think)you will have less oxygen carrying capacity. So no, I wouldn't give blood just before a half marathon! Will do a search on medline to see if there are any papers to answer your question! The illegal method of improving performance I think is when athletes remove some blood, store it, make up the lost red blood cells and then replace the original blood they took out, which would increase red blood cell count. Dont even think about doing this though!
    Finally, I cannot accept any responsibility for any false info, as I am just a lowly med student dontcha know!
  • SticklessStickless ✭✭✭
    Don't donate within a fortnight of attempting a half if you want to try hard in it.

    I spent a lot of time pretty stunningly anaemic due to blood loss, and I simply can't believe it has anything to recommend it!

    I suppose I got used to keeping going when I thought I couldn't even sit up any more, so I suppose that knowledge was worth gaining.

    Good luck, but I shan't try it.

  • This was all I could really come up with:

    Effects of blood donation on exercise performance in competitive cyclists.

    American Heart Journal. 130(4):838-40, 1995 Oct.

    This study evaluated 10 male cyclists before and after phlebotomy (blood taking)to determine the effect of donation of 1 U 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. Maximal performance was decreased for at least 1 week. Submaximal performance was unaffected by blood donation.

  • Helen, this is a long shot and I horrify myself at the nerve even asking, but if, in your travels through medline, you come across an article on runner's diarrhoea by Arjun Rao and David Evans, could you post the abstract of that? I was given the names a while ago by my sports doctor because I have problems with runner's diarrhoea (if untreated!), but have long since left academia so just don't have access to the journals.

    TIA in case you do come across it!
  • Thank you all for your valuable responses.

    I used to be a regular blood donor but since I started serious running I am worried that I can't be a regular donor anymore. I spend almost every weekend doing racing (10K or half) and I think I am addicted for doing it now. However, after reading an article in the RW Magazine I was curious if the “new” red blood cells work better than the “old” ones. I will certainly not using this as a method to improve performance. And the method suggested by Helen …… Gosh! I will certainly NOT to try. It sounds like science fiction story. Maybe Trinity can try it in the Matrix Re-reloaded!!! Ha! Ha!

    It seems like the only way to do both (running and donating blood) is just doing one thing at a time.

    Thanks to everybody!!!

    * Helen, I will go have a look of the journal paper in the university library tomorrow. Thank you so much for finding this paper.

  • fat buddhafat buddha ✭✭✭
    As a very regular donator - got me silver badge - I haven't donated since the end of last year as I was training for FLM and didn't want to lose out for a week after giving. Selfish? Yes. But my view was I can start again after - I will be giving at my next local donor session now FLM is done and dusted. Until next year.

    David - a few things to boost your red cell count/lung function:

    EPO - illegal (in competition)
    Blood packing - illegal (in competition)
    Training - legal (and for best effects do so at high altitude for at least a month)

    Easy choices really.
  • Ratcatcher- have emailed you 5 abstracts of some other papers- but couldn't find the one you were talking about! Sorry I didn't post them on here but was a bit long. Hope they are of some use!

    David: no problemo!
  • Wow, Helen, thanks very much. I'll log onto email later - once I've finished working ;-) - to get those. That's just great!
  • Let me know if you didn't get them or anything!
  • I did get them. Thanks very much! I emailed you back to thank you, so hopefully you got that.
  • Yep I did get it!
  • There is an very interesting report on BBC website entitled "Sport's new doping threat
    " and the web address is .

    Perhaps the reporter was on our Forum. Haha! What a coincident!!

  • Sorry!

    The address is
  • I think the html text doesn't work here.

    Anyway, the address is
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