Giving Blood and Running

My guilty conscience has just been pricked about not giving blood (friend has just had a big op following a car crash) - the next doner session in my village is on the Thursday before a ten mile race on a Sunday. Is it okay to do this so near the run or should I wait til next time??


  • Paul -- all the information you need you should be able to find here
  • Scotty4Scotty4 ✭✭✭
    Hiya Paul,

    If you are comfortable with running 10miles+ you shouldn't have a problem, but don't expect a quick time. Make an extra special effort to get the correct fluids into your system on Thursday, Friday and Saturday

    I gave blood in July and made a point of not running for for a few days afterwards just to get myself properly hydrated. My first 7 mile training run 4 days after didn't feel any different from the norm and a few days after that I managed my first 20 mile run.

    Everyone is different of course; but I do remember from the Blood magazine that vigorous exercise is no problem as long as it's 24hours after donating.

    I had heard that it can take up to 6 weeks for you blood level to recover properly. My personal experience is that does not affect my running performance.

    If you have done the appropriate training for the 10miles I'm sure you can run on Sunday and still be a hero on Thursday.
  • Thanks for the replies folks, feel happier now ;-)
  • I usually feel tired for about 7-10 days afterwards and wouldn't want to race until a fortnight afterwards.
  • Like so many things I think giving blood affects individuals in different ways. I'm a regular and when I donated in February, part way through marathon training, didn't notice any effect on my running. However, after my next session in June I had about a weeks worth of bad running. It may just have been a coincidence, I'll have to wait till October to find out.
  • I'd agree it does affect individuals differently. As an occasional jogger/racer I've not fully tested it out myself - although did find I could do a ten mile training run two days after donating without noticeable affect.

    However, other half, who is a much more serious runner than myself and races most weeks, had to stop donating, since he found it made him weak to the extent he had to drop out of a race (virtually unheard of). It seems that the levels at which he trains combined with the vagaries of his body couldn't cope. His training diary helped him to indentify the problem.
  • It takes me about a week to recover from giving blood, and I'm a 'regular', but like a lot of people say, I think it's all down to the individual. Paul - you could always give blood at a different location on a different date, after the race. They have blood donor sessions all the time, so I'm sure you'll be able to find one near where you live after your race. Good luck anyway.
  • NessieNessie ✭✭✭
    It makes sense that giving blood would affect your performance. Your muscles need oxygen to function, and they get this from the red blood cells. Donate a pint of blood, and you reduce the amount of red cells by 1/8th. Therfore less oxygen will be available for the 12 weeks or so it takes the body to renew them.

    However, how much effect it will have on you will depend a lot on your level of fitness/training. Heavy training depletes the store of red cells anyway, and someone doing a lot of races will probably be a bit low anyway. To balance that, a well trained body is very efficient at utilising oxygen - more so than mere mortals. If you are a slow runner, you probably don't use all the available oxygen anyway, so would notice the difference less.

    It will be a combination of how hard you have been training, how well your system can transfer the oxygen, your general health and how well you rehydrate after the donation that will dictate the final effect.

    In short - I personally would not donate in the 2 weeks prior to a race, as I would probably feel a bit lethargic, but would find a session elsewhere a coupleo of weeks after it, once I had fully recovered.
  • Training after a blood donation has been described as a good way of simulating altitude training, Paul. Removing 10-15% of your red blood cells suddenly does reduce your oxygen-carrying capacity (your body doesn't know it was a conscious, public-spirited decision and not an accidental haemorrhage).

    Individuals vary in how well they cope with this, as evidenced in previous posts. I come somewhere in the middle - I notice a drop in my exercise tolerance for 2-4 days after a donation (I'm a regular - 30+ donations to date despite interruptions for childbearing and glandular fever) but am completely fine thereafter. I also notice that I feel far better immediately after donating blood now that I'm training again than I did during my relatively sedentary years.

    In your position, I wouldn't donate two days before a race, but would postpone my donation until at least a week afterwards when my body had fully recovered (a month if it was a marathon). It's easy for me, though - I live in a city where there are several donor units working every weekday.
  • Paul,

    I'm sure I speak for all us donors when I ask how it went ?

    Did you donate ? Did you run, and did it make a difference ?

    Positive results could benefit the NBS by dispelling fears and encouraging more runners to donate.


  • Haven't donated or run yet. Donation is on 12/9 and the race is on 15/9. The next donation day is 23/9 so still have not made up my mind which date to do. 12/9 was handy for me as I could walk there and back whereas 23/9 means a short car journey. Decisions, decisions .....
  • Sorry Paul,

    Didn't want to make you feel guilty. Considering you have the oportunity to go to a session again in the same month after your run, that would be the sensible option.

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