Running and Donating Blood


I feel blessed to be healthy enough to donate blood. I don’t do it every eight weeks, but I usually work it in a couple of times a year. I have been told that donating blood can dramatically affect an athlete’s performance; especially for an endurance athlete like a marathon runner. I’ve tried to schedule my donations during the window of time between a race and the start of my next training period to minimize problems, and that has worked pretty well. When I have donated blood, I’ve noticed a little decrease in my energy and stamina, but nothing too substantial like what I’ve heard reported by some runners. Maybe I just wasn’t running at that high of a level yet.

I receive postcards from the local blood bank on a regular basis, and they serve as a reminder for me to give blood, like I did last fall after the Twin Cities Marathon. I received another reminder just last month, but decided to hold off donating this time until after the Fargo Marathon in May. Last week, however, I received a phone call from the blood bank, and they left a message saying that they were running dangerously low on my type. I knew what I had to do, so I gave a pint on Thursday.

Well, I had previously reached a point in my training where my recent runs have been relatively easy. Since my donation, however, my runs have left me sucking air, and my legs have been constantly sore from all the lactate buildup. I guess I’ve now become a good enough runner that I can be negatively affected by donating blood. I don’t know if I should celebrate my increased fitness or moan the fact that it’ll be harder for me to donate blood in the future because of it.

I won’t be able to give the Frozen Feat 10K race my best shot this weekend because of my donation. I will probably be back to normal in plenty of time for the Fargo Marathon, but I may not be able to train quite as hard as I planned for a few weeks which likely will hurt my final time a little bit. Yes, donating blood this time is hurting my running, and likely will continue to affect me until April. You know what, though? If my blood is able to save a person’s life, my small sacrifice will seem inconsequential. I would do it all over again if I got the urgent phone call. Helping a fellow person survive is always going to win out over running. That’s the way it has to be!

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One Response to Running and Donating Blood

  1. Rachel says:

    Thanks for that insight! That explains a couple weeks of really difficult marathon training runs following a blood donation in mid-January! Didn’t actually put the two together, which seems crazy now! Here I thought I was just not supposed to run that evening and would be back to normal the next day! Maybe should consider delaying going in until right after the marathon rather than 33 days before, when I am eligible to donate again…

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