Running a Marathon?

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Dr. Robert Katz is Professor of Medicine at Rush Medical College and Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. He is a leading expert in the field of Rheumatology, with experience in both research and patient care. Among his many honors and awards, Dr. Katz was named in U.S. News & World Report’s Top Doctor rankings, and this year, he was among 35 Physicians named Top Doctors by Rush.

Dr. Katz has been a long time supporter of the Lupus Society of Illinois and is currently the Chair of our Medical Advisory Board and a member of our Board of Directors.

Dr. Katz is also a member of the 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon Lupus Charity Runner Team!

We asked Dr. Katz to answer a few questions for us to share with you.

Is it safe for a lupus patient to run a marathon?
It is safe for lupus patients to run a marathon if their lupus is not active, and they are in great shape. It is important to be well hydrated during the run, of course. Lupus patients certainly should not run a marathon if their lupus is even a little bit active. If there is any major organ involvement, kidney disease, etc., I would not suggest running the marathon.

Is there anything a lupus patient should do differently when training for a marathon?
I do not believe lupus patients should train differently than someone else for the marathon, as long as their lupus is under control.

Is there anything special a lupus patient should be doing in regards to nutrition while marathon training?
There is nothing specific lupus patients can do before a marathon – the general recommendations to eat a lot of carbohydrates the night before the run and eat a light breakfast are the same. After the run, it is important for all runners to get enough hydration.

When training, are there any signs a lupus patient should be aware of to stop training?
Lupus patients need to listen to their body (as we all do). If pain increases or people feel ill, their bodies are telling them to hold off or cut back, so listen to your body.

What to do when you encounter an injury? Are injuries more alarming if you have lupus?
Injuries are not more alarming if you have lupus, but it certainly could affect things more seriously if the lupus is active or if there is major organ involvement.

When do you use ice verse heat for injuries? Is this different for lupus patient?
Ice is usually used initially for any joint swelling, and then later heat can be relaxing to the muscles and tissues. This is the same for people with lupus and athletes in general.

In general, I do not advise lupus patients to run marathons, but I do suggest that they try to stay in good physical shape including aerobic fitness. The idea of running a marathon means a lupus patient has their disease under control, takes medication including steroids (an extra dose that day) if needed, and feels very psychologically and physically comfortable with the idea of running a 26.2 mile race.

With Best Regards,

Robert S. Katz, M.D.

This information should not substitute or replace expert medical care. Before making changes to your medical care, consult your qualified healthcare professionals familiar with your medical condition and health status.

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