Sunday, May 6, 2012

Running a Marathon with Diabetes

One year ago, I had never run a marathon.  My longest run was 15 miles on a treadmill.  I did all of my runs solo.  I was a novice runner (and still am), learning how to train, fuel, and be successful.  By no means have I figured everything out, but I have learned so much in the past year,  not only about how to train for a marathon, but also how to manage diabetes better.

 #1 - Wake up on the lower side of normal
Waking up with a blood sugar over 150 was not good for me, or my training.  I wanted my blood sugar to come down, but was always afraid of giving too much of a correction bolus.  My goal was to wake up between 70 and 90.  I know that seems "low,"  but it worked the best for me.  On marathon morning, I woke up at 66 and was happy.  Please remember that "low" is different for everyone.  I can function fine at 66, while you might not be able to.

#2 - Consistency
I did all of my long runs in the morning, most often starting at 7 AM, the time my marathon started.  I do all of my runs during the week at night due to scheduling/job/life issues, but I always did my long run in the morning to train my body to run at that time. 

#3 - Eat the Same Thing
I eat the same thing 99% of the time for breakfast. Therefore, I know exactly how much insulin I need to give myself.  My breakfast is not a typical runner's breakfast, but it works for me.  Finding something to work for you is so important.  So, what do I eat?  When I answer this, most people stand and stare at me in disbelief.  I eat yogurt, berries, and cereal.  I also have some peanut butter and a CLIF bar before I start a long run.  I do not bolus for the CLIF bar.  I eat a lot in the morning because I need that much food for the quantity of running I do.  I rarely need to use the bathroom, too (1 time in training in a year...not too bad!).

#4 - Know Your Nutrition Plan During the Race
Going into my marathon, I knew I was going to eat GU rocktane at miles 6, 12, and 18.  I packed an extra GU to take at 22 if I felt like I needed it, but didn't end up eating it.  After taking my GU, I always washed it down with water afterward.  Between my GUs, I took Gatorade from the aid stations.  Gatorade is tricky because sometimes one glass can be much more sugary than another.  I find that I need to keep nourishing my body during the race to perform well.

#5 - Know Your Insulin Plan
Many people set temporary basals before and during exercise.  However, I am not one of them.  I don't touch my basal rates.  I have pretty sensitive to insulin and don't have high basal rates to begin with and it causes me more issues post-exercise.  I leave my basals exactly how they are and eat throughout the race (see Goal #4).  I take in a lot of carbs during the race, but only take a very, very, very small bolus for all of it.  During the marathon, I took a bolus of 0.2 units at mile 12 and nothing again.  I ended the race at 165. 

#6 - Know Your Nervousness Level
I learned this lesson the hard way.  Before my ChiTown Half Marathon in April, I was not nervous at all.  I had just come back from Los Angeles and was ready to run for fun.  The end result was going low and having to walk over 3 miles of the race.  I was so furious, mad, and frustrated by the experience.  However, it ended up being a great learning experience.  As I race more, I am less and less nervous.  Nerves make my blood sugar go higher, so I know I need either more food or less insulin to have a good race.  I did know that I would be nervous going into the marathon.  However, I'm racing a half in 2 weeks and plan on taking less insulin on purpose to cover for lack of nerves.

#7 - About Carb-Loading
Runners are supposed to carb-load before their big race.  However, I do not believe in carb-loading.  It actually causes me to have far more problems.  Eating something simple works much better for my blood sugar.  I like to eat foods that I know how they will react in my body.  For me, this means not eating pasta, rice, or desserts. 

Please remember that these are things that I do.  I am unique, and so are you.  What works for me most likely will not work for you. 

1 comment:

  1. You have written a very informative article with great quality content and well laid out points. I agree with you on many of your views and you’ve got me thinking.

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