Friday, March 22, 2013

Diabetes Questions...Answered

I occasionally get questions emailed to me or put in the comment section of posts from my blog, which I often fail to answer.

How do you prep for long runs with having diabetes?

This answer has changed a lot in the past year.  I do 90% of my long runs in the early morning, which I find to be the easiest time.  In the past, I have eaten yogurt, fruit, and instant oatmeal (uncooked) on top of it before my run and taken Gu every 6 or so miles.  During my Boston Marathon training cycle, I eat a piece of peanut butter toast 45 minutes before the run.  Right before I start, I take a Gu.  I take a Gu every 5-7 miles on long runs.  I found the the hills I've been training on really wear me out, and I need the extra calories to make it through my run feeling strong.

My current favorite Gu flavor 

How do you handle insulin on your long runs?

I do not set temporary basals ever.  My pump is always on 100%, no matter what.  Before my long runs, I deliberately take less insulin than what my pump tells me.  I also do not bolus for the first Gu.  I take between 0.2 and 0.3 units of insulin per Gu for the rest of them.  I have found this balance to work well for me.

This picture made me laugh.  I do love insulin, mostly because I like to eat.

What color is your pump?

Someone emailed me this question, which I thought was really random.  My pump is clear.  I decided to get the clear one in college, when I first got my pump, because if it was visible it would match everything I was wearing.  I could get another one, as I've had my current one for 5 years, but haven't decided if I want to stay with a  clear one or go for a color one.  Or, if I want to get a skin.

My pump looks similar to this, but is an older version.

What type of holder do you use for your insulin pump while running?

I had a Medtronic Pump and use the belt clip.  I have a black one, unlike the picture below.  It is the only pump holder I have found that doesn't move around when I run.  It is secure, which is why I like it.

When you line up at a race, do you think of yourself differently compared to the other able-bodied athletes around you?

No, I consider myself just as capable of achieving my goals as the runner standing next to me.  I believe the proper term for seeing myself different is called "self pity."  Yes, diabetes presents challenges that others do not have to deal with.  I have had races where I couldn't run the way I wanted to because of my diabetes.  But, I consider those races learning experiences, although I am generally pissed off after they happen.  In all honesty, I think of myself of being a pretty good runner that has achieved some success in the short time I have been competitively running.  I have big goals that I would like to achieve this year, and know that believing in myself and not having any self-pity is the only way they can have a chance at being accomplished.

Is anyone else diabetic in your family?

My paternal grandmother, who is still alive, has had diabetes for 75 years.  It has been interesting to learn more about her life as I have gotten older.  When she was younger, doctors told her that she should not have kids because it would be a risk to her health.  She went on to have four.  Doctors told her to not do a lot of things, and she didn't listen to any of them.  Although it is hard for her to move around now, she still has all of her limbs and hasn't lost any of her brain power.    

About 15 years ago, doctors told my dad that he was on the verge of getting type 2 diabetes.  He took matters into his own hands, lost weight and started exercising.  He is now pretty thin and works out 6 days/week, with not a sign of insulin resistance.  

This was chosen only because my grandma loves Jeopardy.

Do you think you are a "diabetic elite" athlete?

This question was raised after I wrote about my experience with Team Novo Nordisk.  I think it is important to mention that they never did change their website, and still claim that they are an elite diabetic racing team.  To truly answer this question, I think you need to define "elite."  Compare to many of the athletes on their team, yes, I am elite.  If we were to race, I am confident in saying that I would be the 1st female across the finish line, regardless of the distance, and quite possibly some of the men.  I know I am not the fastest diabetic runner around (I'm definitely slower than Missy Foy), but I don't know of one other female diabetic runner that is faster than me.  

I was talking with a guy from my running club last month about TT1 and how they portray themselves on their website.  "D" is a pretty good runner - a sub 3 hour marathoner - who is brutally honest.  He told me I was "diabetic elite," which shows you that to one person you may be and another you may not.  It all depends on your definition.  I still stand by the fact that anything over a 25 minute 5k PR time is nothing close to elite, but rather closer to "middle of the pack on a good day" runner.  

Do you wear a CGM?

No, I don't.  I did not find it to be accurate and therefore stopped wearing it.  It is an expensive toy to have if it doesn't work.  I don't miss it, either.  

This machine is used 8 - 10 times a day by me.  I also have it in green, but purple is my favorite color so I always use that one.

You mentioned that you changed your pump site.  How's that going?

For 7 straight years, I only had my pump infusion sites in my stomach.  A few weeks ago, I finally go the courage to try a new spot after deciding it was time for the stomach abuse to stop.  I started using my sides, which is working out really well.  I like having my site on my right side far more than my left, only because it feels more natural to put my pump on the right side of my body when I run.  Overall, the transition has been great.  I don't think putting an infusion site in my boobs would work, as a few people recommended, because I don't have much in that department to begin with.  

Have other questions?  Email me ( or put them the response section.  Feel free to answer one of the questions, too.  I'm interested in hearing other answers.  

1 comment:

  1. Good post. I'm surprised you haven't bumped into Jaime Molyneux over the years. She hasn't raced hard since she got a tough injury 2 years ago but she put up some impressive times before that. Great girl who's involved with Insulindependence:

    One thing I've learned over the years is that there are far more talented diabetics in all endeavors than I ever thought. And that's awesome. :)