Diabetic Runners


Hello from Derby, UK (Read 203 times)

    My name is Ciaran. I live in Derby (pronounced 'Darby') in England. I have been diabetic on insulin since I was 13 and am now 39. My control is pretty good but my weight is now 210 lbs and my aim (it has changed over the years)is to run to lose weight. I have been a runner off and on (big offs, small ons) since I was 11, and never came close to breaking any records. I now run about 10 miles a week and average 8:30 a mile.


    My question is this:

    How do diabetic runners raise their blood glucose levels prior to a run? Do you reduce your insulin at the mealtime before your run (and allow your glucose levels to build up over a couple of hours or so) or do you take in some quick-acting glucose (say in the form of a drink) a short while before you start out?


    The problem with the first is that you can overdo it and get your blood glucose too high which impairs performance. Furthermore, if your running doesn't happen for some reason, then you've caused yourself a lot of trouble for nothing.


    The trouble with the second is that taking on extra glucose means taking on extra calories, which just makes it harder to lose weight through running.


    [Thanks to Wingz for actually showing me this Diabetic Runners forum]

    Never been to the Americas, but how many of you guys have ever been to Derby?


    The voice of mile 18

      I'm t2 so no real advice about insulin levels but just wanted to say Hi.  and if no one gets back to you quickly I recommend check the book the Diabetic athlete  it;s pretty good. 


      a question back does anyone notice problems w/ performance w/ high blood sugars?  I don't think i've ever noticed high sugars impacting my perofrmance only the bonks (low sugars)

       Tri Rule #1 of Triathlon Training/Racing - If Momma ain't happy nobody is happy 

        Welcome, Ciaran. I'm type 2 but I used to take insulin before meals and at bedtime. Normally I run in them morning so I would skip my insulin until after I ran. But that's probably not a good idea for you.

        The one problem I could see with starting out with high blood sugar is that running could make it go even higher.

        Do you have an endo or diabetes educator you could talk to about this?

        straw man

          Hi, Ciaran,

          You have pretty well answered your own question.

          Are we correct in thinking you are a type 1 diabetic? That would make sense from the diagnosis at age 13 and the insulin injections, but I thought I should confirm it.

          I'm type 1 and on an insulin pump. When I was on injections, I would eat something, no more than 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrate, a few minutes before starting a run. Now that I'm on a pump, I just reduce my basal rate an hour before starting.

          If I'm going for a long run, I plan to eat something, like a gel pack, every forty minutes or so, as needed. I carry a meter on all runs over about 8 miles, and I always carry a source of carbs, like glucose tablets or gel packs, on any run.

          You'll find it easier to lose weight through running if you can reduce your basal for it.

          But if you can't reduce your basal, remember that you're not just burning calories while you run. You're changing your metabolism. As you get into better shape (even if you don't look different at first) your body will become more efficient, and you will be able to get by on less insulin.

          He who has the best time wins. Jerry

            a question back does anyone notice problems w/ performance w/ high blood sugars?  I don't think i've ever noticed high sugars impacting my performance only the bonks (low sugars)


            My performance is definitely poorer if I start running with a blood glucose level higher than 12 mmol/l (about 216 in American units?), which it can very easily reach if I reduce my quick acting dosage just before my last meal. I really like to start running with BG around 9 mmol/l (162?) or even lower. Then again, my distances are short - usually 3 or 4 miles and never more than 6 - so I don't really give myself the opportunity to go hypoglycaemic.


            Even with moderately high BG level my joints feel stiff, and my insides start to feel pretty desiccated.

            Never been to the Americas, but how many of you guys have ever been to Derby?


            Johnny Mac

              Hi Deby,


              I haven't quoted in a while so I thought I would.   I run about 20 miles a week and I am slowly going longer.   I am a type 1 on an insulin pump.   I started running in Oct 09 at about 215 lbs.   I believe running has helped me to loose weight.  I currently wiegh in between 180-185 every morning and believe to be in the best shape since I played high school basketball 28 years ago.  I have cut my basil rate down, my bolus correction factor down, and the amount of insulin per carb exchange.   The biggest factor is in losing wieght is eating healthier.  Exercise has made me think healthier and it becomes an appetite supression.  No more fast food because im hungary- only occasionally when I give myself a treat.


              Regarding your question I keep it simple - Check BG level before running.   If I am below 100 I will bring it up with fast acting carb (banana or 5 Tabs) and not run for 30 minutes.  If I am 100-135 I will also take carb exchange (banana or 3-5 Tabs) and run immediately.  Between 135 and 200 I just go run.  Over 200 I take 1/2 insulin correction and wait 30 minutes or so (this is probably the tuffest)  But i really struggle with beginning a run over 200 so I just don't attempt it anymore.    


              I always have Tabs with me when I run. (working on something else cause there hard to take while running trying gels and stuff).  I only will take them (2-3 if I know I am going to run over 6 miles) and I try to take them at mile 2-3 and mile 5-6.   I have never run over 8 Miles and I have never had a low when running.    I rarely test after I am done, usually after my stretch and shower about 30-60 minutes after and its usually real good.  


              The last thing I can always count on is a crash about 6 hours after I run, but because I know this I am always ready. 


              Might be more then you wanted to know but good luck and all I can say is keep running!  I just signed up for my first half marathon Sept 19th and plan on my first marathon in 2011.

              2010 Goals 5K < 25m="" 24:18="" 5-8-2010="" 10k="" /><48m 47:32="" 6-12-2010="" keep="" running!="" 13.1m=""></48m><1:45 1:41:09 9-19-2010 keep running! 1:41:09="" 9-19-2010="" keep=""></1:45 1:41:09 9-19-2010 keep running!>