One event down, two to go this year! And it ended with a massive PB! I’ll explain a bit about how I did it with type 1 diabetes later in this blog.
I recently ran the first of my three events this year, the York 10k (the next events are the Great North Run in September and the Yorkshire Marathon in October). I was lucky enough to run it with a fellow type 1 and good friend Nick who I met at the Animas Sports Weekend a couple of years ago. We’ve stayed in touch and regularly bounce stuff off each other which I have to say has helped massively with things like “what do you do about the post-exercise spike?”, “where do you wear your insulin pump?” and “does yours look like this?” errrm OK, not that last one but I’d feel comfortable asking if I had to, honestly.
Chatting type 1 and peer support
Nick and I had a major catch up after the race as we’ve not actually met up for about a year. It reminded me how valuable speaking to other type 1’s can be. You just get that feeling that they “get it”, you don’t have to explain about the difficulties we have with pizza, pasta, fish and chips or what a really bad hypo feels like, they just know. Nick has a few years on me in terms of his type 1 diagnosis having been diagnosed at 15 years old, I’m guessing about 10 years ago, whilst I was diagnosed at 31 years old, just 3 years ago. I’m amazed at how people diagnosed as teenagers manage to cope through those “I am immortal”, “to hell with risk” teenage years. I’m not sure how I’d have reacted at that age but it certainly wouldn’t have been with the same level of maturity as in my 30’s.
Something really interesting cropped up during our conversations, just how different all us individual type 1’s can be. We got talking about our exercise and diabetes strategies and I explained that I have to run a 20% basal rate from at least 1 hour before exercise to stop me crashing into hypo during runs, taking on around 40g carb/hour. Nick was absolutely shocked and explained that he runs with a 90% basal rate with hardly any need for carbs, any less basal and his blood glucose rockets! I’m constantly intrigued by how this condition affects us all in so many different ways, all the more reason to talk to each other about it and there are so many ways of doing so in this modern age of social media.
I have some “go to” Facebook groups I regularly share to and both give and receive support from. I also have a number of experts I regularly interact with on Twitter (they probably wouldn’t consider themselves experts but they really are). I remember the early days when I was diagnosed, frantically scouring the internet for information as to why I was going hypo all the time, I couldn’t run for more than a mile without that sweaty, shaky, awful feeling that creeps up on you and then hits you like a steam train! The peer support available now really is amazing, Don’t get me wrong you still get the odd doom and gloom merchant and the “expert” telling us how we can reverse type 1 diabetes (eye roll) but 99% of the posts range from informative and supportive through to inspirational and life changing!
These groups on Facebook have helped me and are well worth a look, they might (and probably will) help you too, feel free to suggest more in the comments:
Anyway, onto my 10k PB and how I did it!
Life’s challenges and accomplishments
I talked a bit about my ambitions in this blog (The Journey So Far) and can honestly say that I’ve had quite a few knocks over the past seven years or so that have made those ambitions very difficult to achieve. Football had kept my general pre-diabetic fitness at a decent level playing midweek 6-a-side plus both Saturday and Sunday league. That much football is always going to take its toll though and over the past few years I suffered separate pretty bad injuries to my back and knee and a dislocated ankle involving serious tears to ankle ligaments. As a result I really haven’t had a period of injury free training for a long time.
With the injuries and the arrival of our now two-and-a-half year old something had to give so I made the difficult decision to retire from football last year. This had given me a bit more time to train until……….. the arrival of our twins just eight weeks ago!
Wow, if anyone ever complains to me about lack of sleep I am seriously going to wish twins and a two year old on them. I managed a couple of weeks training prior to the twins’ arrival then ran a local 10k a week after the twins were born. That 10k was run on around 3 hours sleep and I was shocked at how bad I felt and how poorly I ran, absolutely no pace in my legs and ended up with a time of 54min 5sec. It’s safe to say that 10k is not my distance, however that time was at least 4 minutes outside what I was aiming for.
My wife is a legend, just don’t tell her
OK, I will say this only once (and never tell her) but my wife is an absolute legend! Following the local 10k she said….
“I know how much these races mean to you, I don’t know why but you obviously have a point to prove to yourself”
…. and she was right! I’m in my 30’s, I have type 1 diabetes and I want to show my sub-30 year old pre-diabetic self that I can run faster now than I did then. It may sound a bit mid-life-crisis but that is how I feel and that’s what I’m going to do! (If you really want to know I recently bought some Hush Puppies shoes, a sauté pan and an inflatable kayak so maybe I am having a mid life crisis, errrm!)….
…. We then worked a plan out where I could get one or two speed-work midweek runs in, a Saturday morning medium length run and a Sunday morning long run in. Now this isn’t plain sailing and has required real dedication as the midweek runs have tended to happen around 9pm once two-year-old is settled in bed. The weekend runs have involved setting off around 6.30am on both days on top of a full time job which involves a 2 hour round commute. What I’m really saying here is my wife has relieved me of the majority of baby feeding duties so I can go out running at ridiculous hours of the day, yahoooo! (Note to self – buy wife flowers).
The result of 8 weeks of proper training is a new 10k PB of 47min 5sec, a massive 7 minutes off my time just two months earlier and my first sub-50 minute 10k!
Type 1 diabetes and exercise – my way
In order to achieve this I’ve settled on a 20% basal for my runs coupled with 20g carbs just before I set off, then 20g carbs every half hour in the form of energy gel or dextrose mixed with water. For my long runs I’ve been drinking 50g of carbs in the form of a low GI sugar called isomaltulose (also called palatinose) mixed with water prior to the run. I’ve found that this works for me, however I’m keen to stress that everyone is individual and would urge other type 1’s to tinker with their basal rates and carb amounts on an individual basis to see what works for you. Unlike many other type 1’s my blood glucose rapidly drops at the start of a run, I don’t know why, it just does. I know that many type 1’s blood glucose tends to rise a bit at the beginning of a run followed by dropping depending on basal rate.
Hopefully I can remain injury free, continue my training and smash my half-marathon and marathon PB’s next! Two fingers to my sub 30-year-old pre-diabetic self and two fingers to type 1 diabetes in general, you are not the boss of me. Whilst I respect you for the serious and often challenging condition you are, I will remain in control!
Onto the Great North Run, I can’t wait, wish me luck……..