Giving Blood and Running


I gave blood on Thursday and did my usual trick of almost fainting afterwards, opps. Anyway I went for a run this morning and predictably it felt harder than normal.

 I was wondering if anyone out there knows if there is any advantage in training when our red blood cells might be slightly depleted? Any does anyone know how long it takes to get back to normal?




  • No, no advantage that I can see! Less red blood cells to carry O2 round your body to fuel muscles - ie: more fatigued! But a big advantage to sick and injured people - don't stop giving blood!

    Takes me up to 3 weeks to feel right!
  • It can take up to 3 or 4 weeks, I've always been ok just doing shorter plods after but nothing too long or too speedy. And no advantage that I've ever heard of either but as Tigerlily says - don't stop doing it, I've had to for health reasons and feel really bad about it image
  • mr fmr f ✭✭✭
    This week I attempted to give my 38th donation and for the first time ever failed the iron test! My level was 131, 4 under what it had to be to safely donate. I can only put it down to be busy Xmas week and maybe a a below par diet?
  • I ran after donating for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Strange experience as everything felt "normal" except the laboured breathing. Physiologically it takes about 6 weeks to get back close to normal in tests, but I'm guessing it wouldn't make much noticable difference after 3-4 unless maybe you raced in peak condition.

    I haven't seen any research on the different response of athletes to the general population in recovery after donation, but I'm sure some work has been done.

  • I've been doing a bit of Googling on this lately and I can't find anything credible that says there are benefits to training when down on red blood cells.

    I gave blood 1.5 weeks ago and my running is still shot - what was my easy pace now feels very laboured. I'm hoping it's not actually another 2-3 weeks of this.

  • So do I Weeble. I'm just waiting for a break on the weather to head out today. I'm really hoping it will be a little easier than on Saturday.

  • Just take it easy Uluru - it really does take 3 weeks! You feel tired because your body misses the red blood cells and cannot carry as much oxygen to fuel your muscles. Is this the first time you've given blood as a runner? It's as well to plan donations around any events you might enter. Make sure you drink plenty of fluid.
  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    My mum feels really energised after giving blood and has the opposite feeling. She runs better after giving blood than before!

  • Conversely, if it's a bad idea to run after giving blood, would the blood given after a hard run (eg a marathon) have any beneficial properties? I guess it's not a good idea to donate immediately after, but maybe a week or so? Extra red blood cells? I'd be interested to hear a medic's opinion.
  • Now that is really odd Emmy! I've never met anyone who feels better - some people don't feel too different but to feel more energised is odd!! Good for her though - can you ask her what her secret is? image
    Does your Mum run?
  • It isn't "bad" to run after giving blood RR - in my experience it's just harder. The only way you'd get more red blood cells is by training at altitude where there is less O2 so your body produces more red blood cells to carry more of the depleted O2. That's why elite athletes train at altitude. If they gave blood after returning home they'd have more red bloodcells.
  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    Hi Tigerlilly,

    I have no idea, she's always been like that. When I was younger she used to describe giving blood as: "getting rid of the old to make way for the new" and she used to be really energetic afterwards (which had the effect that she had trouble sleeping for a while!). They still accept her for blood donations so it cant be too bad. In comparison, my sister is knocked sideways when she gives blood so that doesnt run in the family!

    She's a plodder (she's nearly 60 so doesnt really "run" anymore) and she has run PB's on all of her races after giving blood a few days beforehand (she calls it her secret weapon!).

  • That's brilliant Emmy - I love it! Wish I was the same...
  • Running Rodent - I'm not a medic but I am married to one. She reckons that it won't have much effect on the blood donating after a marathon, though it will be higher in muscle breakdown products. However you should not be donating right after stressing your body in that way as it will affect the recovery. A week later should be fine.

    I received a questionaire from the Blood Transfusion Service (who are always trying to get hold of my O -ve blood) to ask why I'd not donated since last winter. So I told them it had to fit into a racing schedule which probably sounds OK to all of us and very selfish to the general public!

  • Quite! I'm in exactly the same situation - O -ve but training for a marathon. Maybe I'll wait a month then give them the benefit of an armful.
  • I too thought as im a regular running that id be fine to go out on the 2nd day after donating and ended up nearly fainting 1.5 miles in ! very scary so next time i will def be more respectful to my body after donating and giving the poor thing a rest !
  • Well today was a little bit easier, despite the sleet. But your right Em I will take it easy. I onl gave now because my next race was quite a while away and I was warned it could have an impact. I just didn't realise how much.
  • Gave blood a couple of hours after a heavy hill session once, did not feel good after. Then again I never do, nearly always end up with my legs in the air trying not to be sick.

    I'm thinking of fitting my next donation into a steady period of training (so that I'm running pretty much the same week in week out) so it might be interesting to compare times over that.

  • That would be interesting to compare your times and how difficult you find your runs.

  • In a very unscientific one off trial, when I donated I ran my regular 5km commute home at the usual effort level (long enough after donation to rehydrate but not to have any other recovery), and was about 10% slower than normal.
  • There's a great interview on Marathon Talk about this with Nuffield Health's Lead Physiologist Chris Jones available here: (scroll down to 45:10 - Training talk). According to him, recovery could take up to 12 weeks!
  • "(she's nearly 60 so doesn't really "run" anymore)"

    Almost speechless at that comment.

    Perhaps we should ask Ceal for her opinion!
  • Time for a nap wrote (see)
    There's a great interview on Marathon Talk about this with Nuffield Health's Lead Physiologist Chris Jones available here: (scroll down to 45:10 - Training talk). According to him, recovery could take up to 12 weeks!

    Awesome, might use this as this evenings listening

  • That Marathon Talk interview with Chris Jones is brilliant, very informative and makes you think about the impact.  Be careful if doing VLM12

  • Thanks Time for a Nap.

    I'll have a listen.

  • I'm actually too nervous to listen to that, I don't want to find out I've completely fecked myself when it's too late to do anything about it. image

    How are you feeling now Uluru? I did ten miles yesterday which was noticeably easier than the week before, although still not great. The real test will be a tempo run tomorrow. 

  • I gave blood in late July last year and it took me to early September to feel back to normal with my running - so about 6 weeks. 

    I wish there was more information about this topic - I've just written an article for my running club newsletter to contribute something but I'm not remotely medically qualified.

    I have planned my next session for mid-March - after the Wokingham half in February but only 2 weeks before a 5 mile race and potentially only 3 weeks before my next half marathon in Guernsey.   Will just have to go more slowly than usual. That assumes that they will take it, as my iron levels are often too low.

  • Hi Weeble,

     I was still slow on Monday's run and my breathing was quite laboured. But it was a little quicker then Saturday's. I'm going again today so fingers crossed it's a little easier again.

     I'm going to track how long it takes to get back to my PB. I'm really hoping it's less than 12 weeks.

    Hope you recover in time for your next race.

     Hellywobs, I think I will do the same next time. I didn't really think it would have that much of an impact

  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭
    Jj wrote (see)
    "(she's nearly 60 so doesn't really "run" anymore)" image Almost speechless at that comment. Perhaps we should ask Ceal for her opinion!
    I only repeat what she calls herself! She calls herself a plodder.
  • Hi all,

    Does anyone know if platelet donation has any negative effects on training? I was asked to donate platelets at my last blood donation, and you can do it once a month, which is a lot more than the once every four months. They only take out the platelets, which are the sticky bits of the blood, and put the red blood cells back inapparently, so am I right in thinking that this shouldn't have as bad an effect?

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