Training for my first half marathon – part 1

Some friends and I signed up for a half marathon a few months ago, which all started when I saw online that you could run one around Disneyland Paris – HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE?! Anyway, after a few calculations on accommodation, annual leave and travel costs, we realised that it probably wasn’t as realistic as we’d first hoped (definitely still on the bucket list, mind!). But I was interested now, and even though I wouldn’t be able to run through Sleeping Beauty’s castle, I still wanted to try a half. So we looked around, and found one in October – perfect – plenty of time to train, and (hopefully) cooler weather.

So far, I have worked up to running 14km out of the total 21km, and dare I say it – I’m actually quite enjoying it…! However, even though I’m sure that training for your first half is challenging whether you’re diabetic or not, juggling my blood sugars through this has been less than plain sailing. 3am hypos, force feeding myself my whole kitchen to get through a run, and unexplained post-run sugars of 18 mmol/l has been the story of my life for the past few weeks, and that’s on top of the non-diabetic running classics of blistered toes and chafing thighs (seriously – I had NO idea how much this hurts – eugh. Nice.). But I am getting there – even if it has entailed lots (and lots) of carbs, frustration and Glucogel – I am getting there. Phew. Right. Here’s how I’ve got through the distances so far.

Run ‘plan’

Ok so ‘plan’ is a strong word… I don’t follow any formal running plan, mainly because my weekends are busy, and work hours and blood sugars unpredictable – so I take it ‘week by week’, aiming to do 2/3 shorts runs (5-6km) a week, with a long one on top. In an ideal world, I’d love to set myself a time target to run it in – but in the real world, just completing the half without my blood sugar dropping below 3 mmol/l would be the dream.

7km

This run was a nice one. Thinking that it was time to get started on distances over 5km, I got up super early for work and hit the gym. With a morning blood glucose (BG) of 8.7 mmol/l, I just ate a small slice of toast (8g carb) without Novorapid and ran on that – no problamo.

10km

This was my first 10km for a few months, and it was actually my boyfriend who dragged me off the sofa and motivated us both to do it – but this one was not so diabetically-smooth. I always find my blood sugars dip after work at around 5-7pm, so exercising in the evening is always a bit of a struggle – que carb-loading and (usually) eating more calories than you burn off (my all-time T1D pet hate – how anyone with T1D ever loses weight easily I will never know!).

I like to try and start ‘longer runs’ with my BG a bit higher than usual (about 11-13 mmol/l), so I carb-loaded with pasta containing 50g of carbs – but as usual with diabetes, this didn’t do what it was ‘supposed’ to, and my BG was still only 5.6mmol/l half an hour later. Getting impatient (opps), I stuffed a chocolate biscuit (10g) and headed out for the run loaded with glucose tablets. I watched my sugars en route (another reason why I love the Freestyle Libre – a runners lifesaver!), and after having 4 tablets during the run (16g carb), I ended on a BG of 6.1 mmol/l. So actually – these were ‘technically’ pretty damn good readings – just a lot of effort! I ate some porridge (25g carb) when I came home to try and stem the midnight hypo, but still went to sleep a couple of hours later on a reading of 4.8mmol/l, and woke up at 3am in the 3’s – the one time you want a spike…!

12km

My next run was a similar story, although with my BG being 8.9 mmol/l before the run, I felt fairly confident my bloods would be OK. Again, I prepped with a pasta based meal (55g carb) and a banana for pud (20g carb), and headed out hoping my sugars would raise a bit. At around the 7km mark, my BG had dropped to 6.7 mmol/l, and knowing I still had a while to go, I did what I had to do – and had a Glucogel (not a hugggggge fan of the taste of this stuff!). Anyway, it helped me out in my time of need and I ended the run at 6.3 mmol/l, with two veeeery blistered feet.

IMG_2507
BG after 12km

14km

My blood sugars were actually the least of my problems for this distance – starting on a BG of 10.4 mmol/l, I had a smaller pasta meal (35 g carb), and made it round with no extra glucose, ending on 8.5 mmol/l (although this did quickly drop to the 4’s – but nothing some PB on toast couldn’t sort out). My real issue with this run was –embarrassing as this is – my chafing thighs. I won’t offend you with a picture of this one, but it was painful, gross, and nothing that any amount of carbohydrate could help.

The bad run

Yesterday I had my first ‘bad’ run. Like real bad. One of those kind of runs that make you think “ermmm… why am I doing this again?!” It was just a small 6km before work, but I really, really struggled with it – and I’m pretty sure this was the reason why:

 

IMG_2787
Horrendous(!) BG spike

Now, eating loads pasta before every run definitely isn’t ideal, but as I am on Lantus (basal glargine insulin), I struggle to control my BG by adjusting insulin (because Lantus has a ‘lag’, according to my nurse (and many internet searches), if I were to lower my basal dose on a day where I had planned a long run, the reduction wouldn’t actually affect my body until a few days later). Explaining my carb-loading struggles to my diabetic nurse a couple of weeks ago, she suggested that I tried switching to Levemir, which she described as a much more flexible insulin (the idea being that if I lowered my Levemir dose in the morning, the effect would take place much more quickly, and I wouldn’t have to eat so much to fuel a run later in the day).

This run was about the third day into my Levemir switch, and if I’m honest – it wasn’t going too well. At this point, I was only injecting Levemir once a day in the morning, and I think this (ridiculous) BG spike after my run happened because the Levemir wasn’t lasting through the full 24 hours (many recommend to split the Levemir dose, which I’m now trialling and slowlyyyy seeing some better control). As a result, my BG soared, and my body hurt. 3 hours and 9 units of Novorapid later, my BG did eventually fall back down – but it was not the nicest of runs! Here’s to hoping the next few distances go nothing like this!

13 thoughts on “Training for my first half marathon – part 1

  1. Glad to see you checking and watching carbs in such a detailed way. It gets almost fun after a while huh? Almost 😉

    I don’t know how you ran on that 18 mmol/l. I’m worthless when I’m that high, and not a little irritable.

    Keep up the work, on the running and on the blog. I’d tell you to be careful with your diabetes but obviously you’re already a master at that.

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    1. Exactly – where would the fun be in not stuffing yourself full of carbs and feeling sick 10 minutes into a run?! 🙄😂

      The 18mmol/l run was horrible, I honestly felt like I’d ran a marathon let alone a half! Really feel the lack of energy – I should have stopped to be honest, just didn’t realise how quickly my blood was shooting up! Thank you for the kind words 😊

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      1. Exactly! I like to start of long exercise sessions with my blood sugars a bit higher, but even then I’ll worry if it’s too high or low – such a balancing act!

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  2. I have had Type 1 for 23 years. I only started running seriously in the last year or so. The Disney runs are a lot of fun. I will be doing my second Disney half this year in Disneyland to get my Coast-to-Coast medal. It costs a bit but it should be less than the Disney Paris run!

    The Diabetic Athlete’s Handbook by Sheri Colberg has a lot of good information about how your blood sugars behave during and after workouts if you’re interested.

    Also, have you looked up the term “glycation”? I was shocked at how much I didn’t know about this process (even after being a diabetic for 20 years) and that none of my doctors had ever attempted to describe it to me. I take tons of antioxidants to combat the effects of this process and it has helped tons with my energy levels, especially as I have gotten older.

    Good luck! Keep up the good work!

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    1. Hey Stephen! Congrats on the second Disney run – it’s definitely something I want to do one day! Looks so much fun!

      I’ve heard of the term glycation, but not in terms of its links to T1D? Not sure I’ve ever heard it mentioned by a doctor! And thanks for the book recommendation – am reading up lots about T1D at the moment as have really taken an interest in it, so that one will be added to the list! Cheers!

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      1. Glycation is a normal process in the body where sugar binds to fats and proteins. It is part of the normal aging process but it also releases oxidants and free radicals that cause inflammation in the body. Since diabetics have more sugar in their bloodstream, they also experience an increase in the amount of inflammation and age related diseases. You know that crappy feeling you get with a high blood sugar? That is inflammation kicking the door down and making a mess of things. I was VERY angry the first couple days after I did my research on glycation because none of my doctors had ever mentioned it or tried to explain it to me and it is such a central piece of the T1D puzzle in my opinion.

        I take Alpha Lipoic Acid and L-Carnosine (do not confuse this with Carnitine!) to combat the inflammation. If you try Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), be aware that it may cause your skin to feel flushed for a couple days. I’m not sure why but I experienced this when I started taking it. I had been dealing with a LOT of pain in my body for a couple years and ALA basically eliminated it in a week. While I had thought it was arthritis causing the pain, I think it was inflammation due to T1D. If I had to suggest one thing for you to consider taking, it would be ALA. The L-Carnosine helped clear a lot of brain fog for me so that would be my second recommendation. It crosses the blood-brain barrier to help combat inflammation in the brain. I take benfotiamine (a synthetic form of vitamin B) because it is supposed to impair the glycation process. I hear it has been used with some positive results in Europe. All of these products can be found on Amazon. I stick with the Life Extension Foundation brand.

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      2. that’s so interesting – i’ve never heard a nurse or doctor mention glycation either! thanks for the info – i knew it was part of the ageing process, but had no idea that it was worse for us T1’s. Will take a look into ALA!

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  3. My son is on Levemir – split doses. It works a treat having had Lantus for a few years and then Levemir once a day. Keep going with it once it kicks in it’s great. However, just one thing. Dropping a dose for a run doesn’t necessarily work. It takes 3 days to take effect according to my specialist so may be more forward planning is the answer! Well done for sticking with it and getting through the bad runs!

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    1. Hi – thanks so much for this! That’s so funny to read that as I’ve literally just got off the phone from another diabetic nurse who said similar – she wasn’t aware that Levemir would be advantageous in affecting my body any quicker than Lantus. I’ve been going for 2 weeks now, am going to try a little longer but been advised that if I’m not seeing the control I saw with Lantus then just to switch back. Amazing how everyone’s bodies are so different!

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  4. Hi,
    I love your blog and read it way too much – especially when annoyed and frustrated at T1. You are a huge inspiration to me as your control (to me at least) is amazing and I aspire to get to your levels. I read that you don’t like glucogel and neither do I but I found out about dextrogel which is the same thing if you have never heard of it but tastes a LOT nicer. I would recommend using it if you don’t like glucogel. Thank you so much for your blog and I cannot wait for your next post.

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  5. Hi,
    I love your blog and read it way too much – especially when annoyed and frustrated at T1. You are a huge inspiration to me as your control (to me at least) is amazing and I aspire to get to your levels. I read that you don’t like glucogel and neither do I but I found out about dextrogel which is the same thing if you have never heard of it but tastes a LOT nicer. I would recommend using it if you don’t like glucogel. Thank you so much for your blog and I cannot wait for your next post.

    Like

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