Does training help the body burn fuel more efficiently?

An important part of getting fitter, and improving both speed and endurance is training the body to burn fat at higher levels of intensity. This is really important for athletes who do the things I like doing – running (because they can go faster and further) and mountaineering (because mountaineers don’t have very good access to food to top up their limited carbohydrate stores).

One of the advantages of having diabetes is that I can observe how much carbohydrate I need to eat to keep my blood sugar stable. Does this mean that I have an insight into how well my body is adapting to burning fat? Can this help anyone else?

Data Training

Mont Blanc via the NW ridge of Mont Maudit

“And while we’re there, it would be rude not to climb Mont Blanc!”  

Sat in the Cosmiques refuge, Oli, Nico and I were wondering what to climb the following day. We had settled on climbing Tour Ronde – a popular peak on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc Massif – although none of us were that excited about the 2.5 hour approach walk across the heavily glaciated Vallee Blanche. I had stumbled on a mixed snow and rock climb up the North West ridge of Mont Maudit, which stands at about 4450m and is just below Mont Blanc. The best thing about it was that the “approach” to the climb involved scaling Mont Blanc du Tacul – a peak of over 4000m in its own right. Nico and I had been forced to turn back 50m below its summit two days before in favour of a sprint, slide and rush back to catch the last lift. So we had unfinished business there.  

In one voice, we exclaimed “let’s do that!” And of course we all knew that after attaining the summit of Maudit, all we had to do to reach the roof of Europe was walk – no climbing involved – another 500m higher. We would then continue on to the Goutier hut and therefore complete the traverse of Mont Blanc. Simples! We changed our breakfast time from 5am to 3am and immediately went to bed, we were so excited.


Ultramarathon “taper” – and the unforgettable goats

The last "run" five days before the ultra

The last “run” five days before the ultra

A lot of preparation has gone into getting myself ready for the CCC tomorrow. The CCC is the little sister of the ultra-tour du mont-blanc (UTMB) – a mere 101km and 6100m of climbing. (The 6100 of downhill will be the difficult bit of course.) This is more than enough for me. I feel fit, strong and have no idea how fast I will go. I hope I’ll finish it of course.

They say that success in running ultras can be boiled down to winning the “ultra-eating” competition. One can expect to burn about 700 calories an hour. The body can absorb up to 300 calories an hour if one eats as much carbohydrate as possible. Competitors frequently suffer from nausea or vomiting, and this can lead to exhaustion if they cannot hold food down. 


Trail running with diabetes


I’m training for a 100km ultra marathon around mont blanc. I’m learning a lot about running, training, physiology and diabetes. Today though was all about the joy of running and being in the mountains.

It started with a four mile run in London at 5am. I hadn’t factored in just how heavy my bag was, and I had to really push it to make my train. The doors closed as I arrived on there platform, so I panicked, waving to the driver hoping that I wasn’t going to miss my second plane in a week! Luckily he let me on.


Can diabetes make you happy?

Which line to ski? We ended up doing one of the smaller ones! (Red Arrow)

Which line to ski? We ended up doing one of the smaller ones! (Red Arrow)

When I was diagnosed in august last year my first concern was could I go skiing again?! After exercising daily, testing my blood obsessively and plenty of trial (and some error) I’m pleased to report that diabetes has had very little impact on my ski season. The weather and snow conditions have made it frustrating at times but I’ve still managed to have some awesome experiences.

My final ski of the season was the Gigord couloir in chamonix, last week. Skiing this kind of thing is a great transferable skill for managing diabetes. I need to carry the right kit (just like a diabetic), manage risk (just like balancing the risks of low blood sugar with the long run costs of high blood sugar), and solve problems with a clear head.