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.
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.
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.
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…!
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.
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:
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!