Running and giving blood

Can we talk about the compatibility of donating blood with running, again? I know there is plenty of reading material out there on the interwebs but I would really like to hear from other runners. I just gave blood yesterday which is why I am writing this post. As to how often one should donate seems to vary according to source (also depending on whether you are male or female) but the blood.co.uk website states that women shouldn’t donate more often than every 4 months or so. Well, I have clearly shot that guideline out of the water having donated blood 4 times in the past 11 months! I have just always booked in when they have sent a letter asking. They say that you shouldn’t do any vigorous exercise for a bit after the donation or before on the day of. I have done both; if it has been my running/gym day then I have just done my exercise as normal and then given blood. Usually with a big meal in between though. The donation this time was on a rest day so I had a big run this morning so the following day. In fact I got up at 4.45am and my RunMeter tells me I started running at 5.10am. So not a lot of time to recover in between. I always feel a bit tired after giving blood but this might very well just be an excuse I use to get out of putting the youngest to bed… Ehem. Seriously though; I was in bed at 7pm last night! Asleep not long after 8pm. Wiped out. I am beginning to worry about my ferritin levels. They do a very simple test by dropping some blood into a test tube that contains some (to me) unknown liquid. All I know is that my blood seems to sink mid-way and that has been accepted as being ok to donate. This hardly seems in-depth enough so a visit to the GP might be in the books, not least because I am generally pretty tired. The run itself was a slog; I felt slow and sluggish and unusually my lungs seemed to have a really tough time. I was wheezing my way up Primrose Hill and was panting long after I normally would be. Every single, tiny, uphill killed me. I still did 24km but where I would normally be able to hold a conversation throughout, I could barely say “thanks” to someone who made way for me. Not good. And after I got home and had a shower I realised my lips were a lovely shade of.. blue! From googling, and using “me old head”, I gather there is clearly some oxygenation issues going on stemming from giving a bag of blood. And I know the issues I had running obviously stemmed from that as well. So why do I run right after giving blood? Because I am daft, that’s why! You know me! Do you donate blood? How do you fit your running around it? How do you prepare and is there something you do to help you recover quicker. I am not an athlete or a competitive runner but I hate seeing my performance suffer. And yet; I have already signed up to do it all again in August…

EDIT 29 April: A week after giving blood and I am starting to feel normal. Have been very, very tired all week and my run on Saturday was the worst I have had in a long time. I only did 21.5km instead of the 24km I had planned to do. Spent all day afterwards in bed, barely able to move. On Monday started taking iron supplements and I know it is too soon for them to work but I do credit them for the fact that I did a 25km run in a very good time on Tuesday. It was 6 days after the blood donation so that obviously helped as well.

4 thoughts on “Running and giving blood

  1. I actually wrote about the same some time ago.
    http://wp.me/p5oIIJ-6C
    Normally this doesn’t really affect me, but that time it did!
    Afterwards, I got the advice to drink (even more) after a donation, sleep some more than usual and wait at least a full day with (heavy) running…

    1. I read your post and it definitely resonates! I had the worst run I have had in a long time on Saturday with barely managing 21.4km instead of the 24km I wanted to do. And gym on Sunday was horrible – barely any energy. Outside of these sessions I have spent the whole weekend in bed, too exhausted to move so sleeping/resting has been priority. Need to up the water intake as well..

      1. I think if you’re already in a heavy training regime, donating blood is maybe not the best idea.
        (Which doesn’t mean I’ll stop doing it and I have a feeling you won’t either ;-))

      2. Haha, you are so right. It’s one of those “head says one thing, heart says another” kind of situations. I know I should take a break from it (definitely been overdoing the blood donations) but would feel just too guilty to do so. 🙂

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