Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What Works for Me Might Not Work for You: Diabetes and Marathon Training

There is no doubt about it: training for a marathon takes lots of time, dedication, and is hard.  However, it is also incredibly gratifying and exciting.  I can't wait until the Chicago Marathon.  It will be exciting to run a new type of race. 

One thing I've thought a lot about in my training for the marathon is how people train.  What work for me might not work for you.  This can be implemented on the running front and when talking about diabetes. 

I know that I am not the best diabetic out there.  Yes, I test my blood sugar quite frequently, but that is about it.  How I prepare for long runs and races and what I do during them would cause many people to condemn my methods.  However, it works for me.  I think that is both the greatest challenge: there is not formula.  Even if something works for me one day, that does not guarantee it will work for me tomorrow.

Since I started training for the marathon, I have done things differently. 

  • I do not set temp basal rates, ever.  It does not matter how fast or slow I am going or how many miles I'll be doing, I leave my basal at 100% all the time. 
  • On my long runs (12+ miles/1 time a week), I have been eating a Gu or two and giving myself a very, very small bolus for it.  I've noticed that if I don't bolus at least a little for it, I'll be incredibly high post-run.
  • In addition to eating my normal breakfast prior to my long runs, I have an additional granola bar before the start.  I don't believe in the "carb-loading" philosophy the day/night before, but I need extra calories to have energy to complete the long run.  This has helped.
  • My running club provides Gatorade every 3 miles on long training runs.  I typically drink a cup at each station.  I do not drink Gatorade when I have my Gu, though.  Then, I'll opt for water instead.
  • My body has become extra sensitive to insulin and carbs recently.  I've always been sensitive, but now it is even more so.  This has been rather frustrating.
I don't do things like the typical diabetic runner, if there is such a person.  However, it does not really bother me.  I'm comfortable with what I do and have pretty good luck with it during this training session.  Maybe next time it will be different, but this time it has worked, something for which I am very thankful.


  1. I think nailing the longer race is all about finding what works for you. Through being on TT1, I've talked to a lot of the other diabetics about what they do and agree: some of it wouldn't work for me.

    A very common thing I've seen is to eat 3 hours prior to the race so that there isn't anything significant in you on the starting line, but I swear by a Clif Bar 30 minutes prior.

    It also depends on the race. When I did my 50 miler, I kept my basals at 100% because I wanted to consume as many calories as possible. For marathon training, I still have more gel than most runners - 20 g. every 30 minutes, but set my basals at 50%.

    One of the things I would recommend for most diabetics, however, is drinking water over sport drinks, simply because it's difficult to know the concentration it will be mixed at and how much you'll consume. It's far easier to do the math w/ gels.

    That said, I did my first marathon on sports drinks provided by the race, so it's only a philosophy I've adopted over time.

  2. I'm jealous that you found a way to do without temp basals! it's amazing how different we all are. and for the record, there ain't NUTHIN' wrong with your management ways. There's no such thing as right and wrong way to do things with D

  3. Great going. It reveals how nicely you perceive things. Good diet is very much necessary as it is the important way to fight diabetic. I suggest natural sweetener Natvia ()Natvia which is low calorie and sucrose free. Wish you good luck.