The chart shows how my blood sugar was affected by exercise and the carbs I ate during the run. The green line represents the time I was running for.

The chart shows how my blood sugar was affected by exercise and the carbs I ate during the run. The green line represents the time I was running for.

I’ve said before that by character, I’m pretty happy-go-lucky. But for anyone doing an ultra, I’m told that preparation is key. This is doubly true for someone with diabetes.

To that end I’m making headway with a few things on the preparation list. Firstly, I don’t want to get injured with all this running I’m doing, so I made an appointment to see a physio today to get myself checked out and get advice on injury prevention. The session started out well (“you’ve got strong quads”) but quickly turned to character assassination (“you don’t use your calves or bum muscles and you have no flexibility”) and ended in daylight robbery (“I can solve all your problems in just five expensive one-to-one sessions”). But seriously, he gave me really good advice, and after coming to terms with the heavy investment I’m going to have to make in both time (daily exercises – I’m starting off with kneeling practice – it’s harder than it sounds!) and money, I’m hoping that it will reduce my chances of injury.

The next thing is a plan for nutrition when running. This is the really complicated bit for me. And it’s why I’m so looking forward to all my long runs: I can collect more data!

On Saturday, I went down to the South Downs to do a 20 mile run. I decided getting the train out of london was a good idea, because at least the Downs have some hills which is good practice. I ran to my aunt and uncle’s house, and was greeted by another aunt, two cousins and a massive spaghetti bolognaise, which was a really nice surprise.

The run went really well (except having to stop ALL THE TIME to look at the map and figure out where I was going – oh, and to do those pesky blood tests). But my 20 miles took 3.5 hours, and apparently – according to Strava – I was actually moving for 2.5 hours. If that’s true that’s pretty quick. I didn’t take any short acting insulin (I want to avoid doing that whilst running because it’s too complicated and risky) and ate on average 30 grams of carbs per hour. This is good information about how much my body can process whilst exercising.

There are two problems though. Firstly, according to running websites, I need to eat more like 70g or carbs per hour whilst running an ultra. Secondly, my blood sugar went down to around 4 (or just under) a couple of times during the run. I was totally fine, and didn’t suffer symptoms of a hypo, but I probably need to give myself a bit more of a safety buffer if I don’t want to risk having problems at some point in the future. So next time I’m going to try to eat slightly more per hour – my theory is that if I eat more, my body might start producing it’s own insulin (I’m in the honey moon phase, so still produce some insulin) which will allow me to digest the extra carbs and eating more will give me a higher safety margin from hypos.

The other thing I’m finding with my training, is that I’m absolutely loving all this running! I enjoy the feeling of running along, and it’s great to be able to cover long distances in amazing scenery. I suppose this is part of the “gift of diabetes” – I’ve always enjoyed running, but I wouldn’t have attempted to do an ultra marathon this year if I hadn’t been diagnosed with type 1.

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