Friday, June 17, 2011

Running with a Low Blood Sugar during a Race

Let's review my Madison to Chicago race times:

Run 1: 6.7 miles and a 7:21 minute/mile average
Run 2: 3.7 miles and a 7:08 minute/mile average
Run 3: 9.9 miles and a 7:47 minute/mile average

I felt great during my first run, good during the second, but fatigue set in during the third run.  While I firmly believe the last run is the hardest in a Ragnar relay due to lack of sleep and not being in a "normal" schedule, I had another issue in my last run: low blood sugar.

I don't wear a CGM.  I have in the past, but don't find them very accurate while racing.  I made the decision a year ago to stop wearing them altogether.  I like to believe that it has not impacted my health a whole lot.  If used properly, I'm sure my blood sugar control would be better, but for right now, I think I'm doing a decent job.  My doctor does as well, so that always helps. 

I completely rely on my meter.  I test...a lot.  On a typical day, I test 10 times.  However, during the relay, I tested far more.  Running 20+ miles three separate times in 28 hours can do some funky things to anyone's blood sugar.  I was a diligent tester, testing after I ran, and then 3, 2, 1, and 30 minutes before each run to identify the trends in my blood sugar. 

Going into my last run, my blood sugar was holding steady in the low 100s.  I had a snack and thought I'd be good to go for my last 9.9 mile run.  However, that was not the case.

I started off lightening fast (for me) during that run, but then mile 4 hit.  According to my Garmin, I was running slower and slower.  I started to feel the low blood sugar setting in.  My legs felt tired and lifting them was becoming more of a burden rather than a joy.  I started to doubt myself and my abilities to finish the run.  I knew I was going low, and fast.  I ate a few glucose tablets and looked forward to meeting my team at mile 5, as we had previously discussed. 

I was so relived to see my team.  They were there, in the minivan, with some water (which I requested).  However, when I got to them, I said that I wanted Gatorade instead.  They were all familiar with the fact that I have diabetes, so they handed me one.  It was red, and I hate red Gatorade, but at that point, I knew that i needed it.  Being in a  rather low state, I chugged the entire mini bottle and then ate 3 shot bloks.  I consumed 50 carbohydrates.  My glucose tablets had run out so I ran with a full package (6) of shot bloks.

I left my team after a minute and focused on passing the runner that passed me while drinking the Gatorade.  I started to feel better around mile 8 and knew that there were less than 2 miles left at that point.  When I tested my blood sugar back at the van, I was 107.   

In a race it is hard for me to pay attention to my blood sugar.  I get focused on running the race, my times, my place, who is in front of me, who just passed me, who I can pass.  Luckily, my Garmin helps me think about my blood sugar.  I know if an 8-minute mile seems hard, I most likely have a low blood sugar.  If I'm running 9-minute pace, I must be even lower. 

I know some people run with their meters.  I not of a fan of carrying more than I already do, or attaching more things to my body. 

Too bad that there just isn't an App to alert you when you have a low blood sugar. 

1 comment:

  1. I love my CGM but agree that it's not useful during a race. With a delay of 15 minutes, you're getting data that's 2 miles old... not very helpful when you're planning gels, drinks, etc.

    But I love mine and always refer back to it after the race.