Tips for HIV-positive runners

People with HIV have a few more factors to consider when conditioning themselves for a marathon. For some, it may get tricky.

The National AIDS Marathon Training Program places runners into pace groups. In these groups, individuals share stories and support each other along the way. Building trusting relationships is vital in taking on the challenge of running a marathon. Establishing a buddy system is crucial for someone with HIV. Try to find a special buddy, or two.

Your buddy can check how you are doing, make sure you are drinking enough water and eating enough carbohydrates, and help you deal with aches along the way.

Medicine doses need to fit into your training and eating schedule. The most important thing is that you routinely take your medications on schedule throughout the week, and minimize any risk of developing drug resistance. In general, taking medications an hour or so before the big run or event, and then after the long run, eight or 12 hours after the first dose, as prescribed, should work. If you must take medications during a strenuous run, make sure you have discussed this with your doctor. In addition, some medications have food complications, though this can usually be worked out.


Crixivan® can be taken with a very light snack, following the additional food list, and available at AIDS Project Los Angeles' HIV Resource Center. Many of these 40 suggested food combinations can serve as that high-carbohydrate, low-fat, low-protein meal to be taken one to three hours before the event. To be safe, increasing the daily intake of fluid another 48 ounces (six cups) seems wise.

ddI requires an empty stomach. On your long-run morning, this medication can be taken first thing in the morning as usual. Instead of having your usual meal after the one-hour wait, have the pre-event meal. If there is no time for your meal and you must run, make sure you start eating as soon as possible.

Viracept®, Norvir® and Fortovase® all require some amounts of substantial food to increase the absorption and reduce side effects. This may be troubling to the runner, who needs to avoid higher-fat foods pre-event. One tactic may be to take the medication with some meal before the event, but one that is lower in fat. By maintaining a vigilant daily medication routine, one lesser-fat meal will make less of a difference than if you were less guarded the rest of the week.

All in all, check yourself on how well you are taking your medications. Plan your typical daily medication-meal schedules, one schedule for the day of your long run, and one for the day of your short run. If you need assistance in planning your medications or learning about them, call Walter Campos at (323) 993-1612 to request a "Daily Routine Chart" and to schedule an appointment with a treatment advocate.


Related articles:
Carbohydrates, long run

Thanks Run The Planet  for the permission to reprint the article "Tips For HIV-Positive Runners" originally  published on the AIDS Project Los Angeles' "Positive Living" newsletter, Sept 1999 by AIDS Project Los Angeles (
Text copyright © by AIDS Project Los Angeles.

This article has informational purpose and  isn't a substitute for professional advice.

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