Donating blood 11 days before a marathon

I've donated over 60 pints over the years, but not so often recently as donor clinics aways seem to clash with training.

There's a donor clinic at work coming up but this is 11 days before my next marathon. I'll be tapering then so can work teh easy runs around it and have a few days off afterwards, but will it have any effect on my marathon ?


  • Does donating blood usually affect you during your training runs?
  • I wouldn't have thought it was a good idea - then again, being a runner you have more blood than the aver4age Joe.

    I'm sure the Dr / nurse at the clinic would be in the best position to advise
  • Not if I have a days break and take it easy for a day after that, but I've never donated blood that close to a long run.
  • I'd probably play safe and give after instead.
  • I wouldnt
  • I do know that it added about 2 mins onto my 10k time when I raced 3 days after donating.
  • If you're concerned at all, I would think that the psychological effect alone would affect your performance.

    As Cougie says, wait 'til after...
  • Your system should have replaced the 500ml or so they take in 11 days. But I'd definately ask at the clinic before I committed to it.

    Just out of interest, if you gave afterwards would the blood have a slightly different make up than if you gave before due to the extra oxygen carrying that it would have done?
  • He notes that many variables make it difficult to predict how much or how long donating a pint of blood will affect athletic performance. However, he notes that recovery after blood donation is fairly fast. Eichner writes: "In my anecdotal experience, maximal performance can return to normal within 1 to 2 weeks, and surely returns to normal after 3 to 4 weeks."

  • In the letter bit further down there is a very good bit about who should an shouldn't donate. It cepends on where you see yourself in the whole athletic spectrum.

    Having read this and some other googled bumph I'd change my mind and say no.
  • Have not looked at any info, so this is just what I think:

    I would say NO, don't

    Your body should make up the VOLUME within 24 hours (cant say where I heard that)

    But it can take up to a MONTH for your blood to get back to full capacity on the red corpuscle front - assuming you eat healthy & absorb your iron from food (taken with Vit C, helps absorption, NOT tea!) as your oxygen carrying red corpuscles have been depleted by 10% or more - fine for "normal" lifestyle, but maybe not 11 days before a marathon ...

    can any physiologist explain it - red corpuscles made in the bone marrow aren't they?

    I gave blood regularly before I had children; had a high blood count at start of first pregnancy 1984 (probably drinking more home brewed beer than tea around meal time!)

    blood count 11.2 (low) at start of second pregnancy 1991 (drinking very little alchohol and probably drinking tea around meal times) prescribed medicinal iron - didn't absorb it!!! I had to have iron injections - and still didn't absorb enough

    I started running when my youngest child was 5 years old - so haven't given blood for 22 yrs

    I'm not trying to put anyone off, they wont take your blood anyway, if it falls below what is a very high figure (13?) - for YOUR sake, not cos they need better blood!! I've also got very common blood!!
  • JJ2JJ2 ✭✭✭
    Just wait until afterwards
  • I'd say no, nor for a couple of weeks afterwards because your body will be stressed enough trying to repair the muscle-damage from the marathon.
  • What you should have done is had a few pints taken out and stored, then had it pumped back in once your body had replenished your supply.

    It does give a performance advantage, but can also kill you.

    It used to be an old pro cycling trick before the days of EPO.

    But to answer your original question, I think you would be mad to. Have your race, wait a while and then donate.
  • Thanks all for the replies, I appreciate it - sounds like there are very valid reasons not to, so I will wait.

    It's just that it is so convenient with the donor clinic coming here to work, whereas it is usually so inconvenient to get to the clinics in the nearest town.
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