Sue explains how type 1 diabetes affects the way she trains for a half marathon.
Well, first of all it’s hard no matter what you are, whether you are someone who is completely healthy or whether you have type-1 diabetes like myself, it’s hard. Training means dedication. It means putting your feet on the pavement. Basically if you are going to run a half marathon or a marathon, any distance like that you need to put the miles in so your body gets used to that kind of a length of running time.
As a type-1 diabetic however, it’s even harder. I joined a team called Team Diabetes. I saw their banner up at one of the 5Ks doing the summer series. If any of you run the summer series you will know what I am talking about, and I went over to the tent, I said, “Oh, you are a team of diabetics,” and they said, “No, we are a team of people who support the research and fundraising and we are advocates for people who are diabetics but most of us are not diabetic.”
I came to find out that on my team with Team Diabetes, I came to find out that the majority of the people are lovely, wonderful people who have a family member, a spouse, a child, a grandparent, they are in it because they want to see some changes happen for diabetics, but they themselves are not diabetic runners.
When you are a diabetic runner you have to constantly be aware of what your blood sugar levels are. I will give you an example of the first year I trained with Team Diabetes. I am better now, but the first year I ran with them there was a point in time when I had been running, and I didn’t feel quite right so I tested my blood sugar, as I said earlier I always carry my glucose monitor with me and stores of instant sugar such as glucose tabs or jellybeans along with me and long term food, too, that you need to fuel on like the goose for that distance.
Tested my sugar and I was a 41 blood sugar. That is extremely low and I was not anywhere close to where I should be at the end of it. I was out on the canal. I didn’t get too stressed out. I’d stop my insulin flow on my pump. I put it on the button called suspend and all insulin, that’s the beauty of the pump, is it stops flowing. It’s not in my body; it just stops getting to my body.
I then took on board some glucose tabs, some sugar and I started walking. At that point I could not have run. It would have been unsafe for me to stay in the running mode. I knew that with no insulin and sugar going in my blood glucose would rise up, but you have to, you don’t want to fall or be out of control of yourself physically.
So I then got to the tent where there were a couple of cookies and bigger things and I think I ate a cookie or two, put by my sugar, my insulin back on board and started out. I felt good enough to run. I ran for a while. Well I hadn’t taken any kind of insulin to counteract the cookies thinking that I needed that sugar in my body and I went up to 274.
So that day, in a matter of about an hour my blood glucose range while on the canal running and training, as other people are training and they are out there trying to think about their breathing and picking up their feet and their posture, I am thinking about my glucose for that hour, hour and fifteen minutes.
So first and foremost, I am a diabetic. Secondly, I am a runner. I will always have to test glucose levels when I am running. There will always be glitches. There is not one day that is exactly the same as the other in my training but I have learned what to do. There are ways to fix it. If it’s too low there are ways to fix it. If it’s too high, I sometimes will take a little insulin as I am running. If it’s consistently up in the high 200s I need to have a little insulin to pull me back down.
It’s hard to run when you are high. It’s hard to run when you are low, and for me it’s just plain hard to run but I do it and I do it with as much enthusiasm and a positive outlook as I can. And when I run for Team Diabetes I am running because I want to see diabetics like myself have some answers, have some support and Team Diabetes does that for me and the funds that we raise, they also do that for those coming in the future.
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