Lloyd I haven't given blood but a long time ago a team mate of mine did - just two days before a 10 mile road race - and he told me that during the race he felt terrible. At the time he couldn't understand his poor performance, until he remembered donating blood.
From a scientific view you are removing some of your red cells and this will reduce your ability to use oxygen, making you slower. After a period of time the body will restore the blood to a normal level (about 4 weeks or so) and your performance should return to previous donation levels.
i give blood, usually in the early evening, and normally run the lunchtime before, making sure I drink a little more than normal.99% of the time I run at the club session the following day and haven't noticed any adverse effect .I will say that I don't recall having raced the week of a donation, but I have certainly trained (long run) and again not noticed a significant decline in performance.However, we were talking about this at the club a cpl of weeks ago, and one or two other guys have suffered in the days following a donation, one or two, like me, couldnt say with certainty that it had a profound effect.I guess that doesnt help...but it looks like it depends on the individual
I give blood regularly and I've never really noticed it having any effect on how I feel while running afterwards. I'm fairly sturdy and not given to fits of the vapours or low blood sugar moments though, and I suppose everyone will be different. I do know people who feel vaguely woozy and out-of-sorts for a couple of days after donating, and I'd never be unsympathetic or suggest they were exaggerating their symptoms.
Like seren nos says, I see giving blood as more important than a training run. If I was aiming for a PB in one particular race though, I'd most likely try to time my donations so I'd be giving a pint afterwards and not just before.
Maybe as a first time blood-giver with a heavy training schedule for several ultras and no idea how donating might affect you, it would be wise to wait until the end of the season and go donate once you've done all your events for this year.
Most people don't give blood at all, so donating just once or twice a year would still be an excellent thing to do.
We actually discussed this a fair bit a while back (here).
There's some useful links there, plus one to a marathon talk episode where they had someone in to talk about it. Hope you find it helpful.
I knwo I'm late to this, but for anyone else finding this thread, here are my experiences:
I've been a runner and given blood regularly for a few years. After giving blood I always feel generally fine but have found my endurance in training has been negatively affected. Not just for a couple of days, but for several weeks. As a result I schedule my blood donations to be as soon after goal races as possible because I know it will set my training back for weeks.
I tend to push myself in all of my training runs, so that may be one reason why I notice the effect.
I am a regular donor and have never really noticed any problems. As others have said probably not a great idea to do within a week or two of an event but otherwise its fine. However, as you see in the donor room everyone reacts differently to the loss of blood so it is probably best to go slowly.
I am not sure of the science but would training with a lower than normal red cell count not have some benefit? I am thinking about the similarity to altitude training or blood doping here. Obviously it would be small but I am just curious.
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