The First Run

Today, I went for my first run since I was diagnosed with Lupus six months ago. I was only able to run a mile. In fact, I was wheezing before I’d even gone a block.

But it’s a start. In fact, it’s the first time in six months I’ve felt empowered over my disease. More importantly, it’s the first time in six months I have felt the visceral joy of lacing up my Nikes and running.

I run for the same reason that little kids run everywhere they go on the playground: it’s fun, bro! For me, the act of running is a primordial expression of kinetic joy. Of course, I also love the very different joy of buckling down and gutting out workouts when it hurts in order to run faster, but I even enjoy doing speed workouts. I run to run, but I always run to run faster.

I wasn’t incredibly fast before I got sick. My PR for five miles was around 32:30, and all my other PRs are old and kind of embarrassing. I ran track for four years in high school and cross country for three, but was injured for four out of my seven seasons. The I got seriously sick or injured three times after I graduated.For that reason (as well as a shameful lack of motivation on my part at certain key points in time), I have never run as fast as I wanted to.

I started to get really fast during my freshman year of college. I could knock out eight mile runs easily at around a 7:20 pace. I went for a seventeen miler one night. I was getting in great shape, until I got a stress fracture in my foot. Then, I was in and out of the doctors for pneumonia, bronchitis and the flu all winter. I was on a variety of drugs, and one of them reacted with my body in a way that “activated” my Lupus. Lupus manifests itself differently for ever person, but for me, it means incredible joint pain. Before I was diagnosed and put on medication, I suffered through a month of the worst pain I’ve ever felt. I could barely get out of bed some mornings.

Like many people who have Lupus, I have to be on the drug Prednisone, which is both a blessing and a curse. The drug allowed me to live my life somewhat normally, but it also has some nasty side effects; namely it throws your hormones all off-kilter. This causes a massive increase in appetite, but it also causes your body to convert almost all caloric intake into fat. This means two things: you get fatter (about forty or fifty pounds fatter, to be exact), and your muscles don’t receive the protein to rebuild. In fact, Prednisone can make your muscle mass shrink, a side effect that is especially bummerific for a former  powerlifter like me.

These various side-effects have all conspired together to make me a 240-pound weakling. There is hope: I’m also on a drug called Plaquenil that can manage Lupus without Prednisone once it builds up to a certain level in the body. This process is going well; I’m down to 7.5 mg of Prednisone per day, and I’m headed to the University of Michigan Lupus Clinic to get evaluated soon. Hopefully, I can go off the stuff for good.

I tell you all this because I want people to truly understand the journey I’m going on. My purpose in writing is simple: to help other runners with Lupus (because there aren’t many resources for us on the web) and to inspire people, regardless of their health.

Ultimately, I plan to become faster than I was before I got sick. I don’t plan on becoming “fast for having a disease,” or on returning for good to the middle of the pack. I plan to become objectively fast and truly compete. My disease will not stop me.

About lupusrun

I'm a college sophomore who fancies himself a musician and a writer. This blog will be a chronicle of my effort to regain my health and fitness after being diagnosed with Lupus. Since there are no real resources for runners with Lupus on the web, it my hope that this blog will fill that void. But, more importantly, I hope that this blog will stand as a testament to the strength of human faith and willpower. I firmly believe that the only limits that exist are the ones that we place upon ourselves. I plan to prove that by becoming faster and stronger than I was before I got sick. Phillipians 4:13.
This entry was posted in A New Hope, Health, Lupus, Running. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The First Run

  1. Sara says:

    My name is Sara and I have just recently found your blog and really enjoy reading it. It gives me so much hope! I have been trying to find a fellow Lupus runner who has shared their story. I am a 22-year old female and was just diagnosed in February and have been going through a very hard time. My Lupus affects my kidneys and I have been taking high amounts of Prednisone as well as getting chemotherapy treatments. I started at 60mg and am now down to 25mg with the plan of being off the pred completely once I get down to 0. I used to be a very active runner, always wanted to go farther and farther. Have done some half marathons and was planning on doing my first marathon this past May (Pittsburgh). Lupus had other plans for me, and it is just now that I have started to try running again. I did 1 mile the other day and it was the hardest run I’ve ever done. My muscles deteriorated from the prednisone and from being so sedentary for several months. Its very emotional and painful to see how far I’ve slipped back in my running, but I want to get past those thoughts and be able to tell myself it is not my fault and that I will be able to do what I did before this disease came into my life. I want to be stronger and faster than before, and your words give me a lot of encouragement 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story!

  2. lupusrun says:

    Wow, Sara, your comment makes me feel incredibly inspired! It sounds like you’ve been through a lot and it’s amazing that you’re back on the road despite it all. The first run is so hard, but I know it will get better for you and that you absolutely CAN come back better and faster and stronger. I hope you’re able to continue dropping your dosage of prednisone and I wish you the best of luck in running!

    God bless,

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