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Blood donation and running

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 Lhod 06 Nov 2022

After years of not getting round to it, I gave blood last week for the first time. It was fine, I was glad to have done it and I'll donate regularly in future.

I didn't do any exercise afterwards, until parkrun which was about 72 hours later. Obviously I was expecting to feel the effects, and I did - I felt like I was gasping for air and my time was about 10% slower than usual.

I'd be interested to hear from other runners how much they find giving blood affects their running performance and how long after donating this tends to last.

I realise it will vary from person to person, I'm just curious to hear other's experiences. Cheers. 

 wbo2 06 Nov 2022
In reply to Lhod: Well adjusting to running at 2000m altitude takes about 3 weeks , so maybe similar?

 wynaptomos 06 Nov 2022
In reply to Lhod:

I always take it easy for 24 hours after donating( although mostly climbing rather than running) but I would not expect to see a noticeable difference in performance after 72 hours. Having said that, I am firmly in the punter camp in terms of standard

 Forester3 06 Nov 2022
In reply to Lhod: Hi, another blood donor here; I can’t say I’ve noted any appreciable difference with my Parkrun times a few days following a donation. However, at 24-25 minutes my time isn’t particularly quick (route is quite hilly), though as I’m not aiming for a pb every week perhaps this helps mask any donation after effects?

 Pedro50 06 Nov 2022
In reply to Lhod:

It's kind of a reverse Lance Armstrong effect.

In reply to Lhod:

I can remember noticing the difference running when I used to give blood, but a better "test" was using the rowing machine, going off at my normal pace and seeing how long I lasted - not long.

IIRC the rough thinking I heard years ago was:

  • Blood back to full liquid volume - within a couple of hours at most if you're not dehydrated to start
  • Red blood cells - a week
  • White blood cells - a month
  • Platelets - 3 months

Obviously, all of these are on "diminishing return" curves, e.g. you'll have 50% back within maybe 25% of the time, 75% back within 50% of the time, etc (made up figures purely to illustrate the idea).

So, after a week I guess you have to find something else to blame - I have a large collection if you need to borrow a performance excuse 😁

OP Lhod 06 Nov 2022
In reply to Michael Hood:

That's really interesting, thanks. I think then I may have just been unfairly attributing it to the blood donation, though it probably contributed a bit.

It was Severn Bridge parkrun which I've not done before, with a double buggy (though I know what sort of time I usually do with that). Maybe I underestimated the effect of the strong crosswind, which can take your breath away plus the obvious drag on the buggy.

Went for a steady run this evening and it still felt a bit harder than I'd have liked. Will revisit my traditional set of excuses! 

In reply to Lhod:

Just realised I have some doubt about the platelets time because a friend used to donate platelets and IIRC the minimum time between donations was 6 weeks, whereas for blood I presume it's still 13 weeks.

72 hours after donation I'd still expect some noticeable effect, but not as obvious as after 24 hours.

In reply to Michael Hood:

IIRC normal platelets last about 10 days in the circulation before they get knocked off and replaced, so pretty quick to return. Red cells last for ~120 days in healthy adult.

b

 yorkshire_lad2 07 Nov 2022
In reply to Lhod:

Interesting comment which hadn't occured to me: I gave blood on Thursday as usual and didn't think anything of it.  I did the Park Run on Saturday (not my local, but Lyme Park) and was about 5 minutes down on my average, but attributed that to the hilly nature of the course and the off-tarmac nature of the course (I'm usually on a flat-ish course and hard surface).  Food for thought.

 james1978 07 Nov 2022
In reply to Lhod:

I try to donate 2 or 3 times a year but always avoid it now if I have a race or climbing trip coming up until I return. 

It seems to take me at least 2 or 3 weeks to get back to full fitness/without shortness of breath when training and running hard.

I'm currently 44 so whilst I don't regard myself as old, I appreciate that I'm no longer a Spring chicken! 

 james1978 07 Nov 2022
In reply to Lhod:

*** I once went bouldering the evening after donation and nearly kept fainting! Mad head rushes etc every time I tried hard.

 steveriley 07 Nov 2022
In reply to Lhod:

Definite reverse blood doping effect, around 2 days/2 weeks to feel ‘normal’ and then more normal performance wise. The replacement follows a curve as I understand it, with the bulk of it happening soon after but the last few % much longer. To my shame it was competing and training running more seriously that made me stop. Must fix that now I’m slow and rubbish!

In reply to Lhod:

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and this is probably terribly bad for you.

Could you see a training benefit by training shortly after giving blood? Would this stimulate overproduction of red blood cells or other things that altitude training does?

From personal experience, I haven't noticed a difference that is larger than normal variation in quality of runs, but I would rarely run less than 3 days after giving blood because I am lazy and will take any excuse.

OP Lhod 07 Nov 2022
In reply to steveriley:

Interesting, thanks. Yes I feel fine, I'm just noticing a few ‰ at the top end. I don't think I'd notice it at all otherwise.

I'm keen to keep donating but will just try to schedule it around races and trips. It may even help enforce having a few weeks of lower intensity now and then, which is probably a good thing. 

OP Lhod 07 Nov 2022
In reply to tlouth7:

> Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and this is probably terribly bad for you.

> Could you see a training benefit by training shortly after giving blood? Would this stimulate overproduction of red blood cells or other things that altitude training does?

Possibly, but I won't be trying it myself!! 

 Justaname 09 Nov 2022
In reply to Lhod:

Apparently it shouldn't affect you in the long term, but everyone is different. I used to donate as frequently as I could, and never noticed anything in the short-term, this was over a year. Then racing season started and I found that I was well down the field and no energy. So you could say that if you don't push yourself hard during training you probably wouldn't notice. 

At my next donation they noticed my Haemoglobin levels were low and said I should see my GP. Had a blood test and said I had low-ish Haemoglobin levels and prescribed strong Iron tablets which made a noticeable improvement. If I donate blood now I take Iron supplements at least a week before / after my donation.

 Yanis Nayu 09 Nov 2022
In reply to Lhod:

I generally feel a bit shit after donating, but conversely go like a train when they put it back in. 


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