Giving Blood and Running

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31/12/2011 at 17:34


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?


31/12/2011 at 19:04
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!
31/12/2011 at 19:39
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
31/12/2011 at 21:27
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?
01/01/2012 at 01:38

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.

01/01/2012 at 15:27

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.

02/01/2012 at 12:30

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.

02/01/2012 at 12:59
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.
02/01/2012 at 13:20

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

02/01/2012 at 13:38
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.
02/01/2012 at 13:41
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?
Does your Mum run?
02/01/2012 at 13:44
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.
02/01/2012 at 14:23

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!).

02/01/2012 at 14:27
That's brilliant Emmy - I love it! Wish I was the same...
02/01/2012 at 15:44

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!

02/01/2012 at 16:24
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.
02/01/2012 at 16:45
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 !
02/01/2012 at 18:27
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.
02/01/2012 at 20:02

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.

02/01/2012 at 20:23

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

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