Training for long distance runs can be a love/hate relationship, and adding diabetes into the mix is no jog in the park. After a solid 15 km run yesterday (and a declining glucose level over the last few clicks), I realized I am still as stubborn as when I ran the Hawaii Marathon back in 2007. Even reaching a self-imposed finish line (the stop sign at the top of my hill) provides a sense of accomplishment I can rarely find elsewhere. But diabetes often reminds me to fight the urge to push myself when I need to stop and replenish. That being said, training and completing big runs can be a major personal victory if you actively LISTEN to your body.
Here are 6 training tips:
1) Sign up for a race! Once you’re committed, you’re in it for the long haul. Check out the Canadian Diabetes Association’s Team Diabetes international race dates – the experience is life-changing and once I get my butt back in shape, I hope to run another marathon with the Team D crew. Achieving fundraising goals is a daunting task but once the ball gets rolling, it’s amazing how many people will support you. I was SO anxious about reaching the minimum, and I ended up raising nearly $10,000 through family, friends of friends, colleagues, pets etc.
2) Stick with it. Start off with a 10km race or half marathon followed by an 18 week training regimen before the full marathon. The Running Room provides phenomenal training programs & web clinics leading up to race day, so it’s easier to schedule interval training as well as short/long run days. They also offer running groups on specific days of the week if you’re into that; I find these are terrific for increasing your pace.
3) Be open to change. On long run days, I typically lower my basal rate and up my bolus to account for the increased carbohydrate intake. You’re eating a LOT more but you’re also exerting a brick ton of energy. I test my sugars at least twice as often to keep a closer eye on things.
4) Stay fueled. Blood sugars can be nasty culprits on the road to running success, but if you treat them fairly – they’ll do wonders for your endurance. I recommend a post-run shake with Vega Sport Performance Protein within 30-90 minutes of your run to help recover and repair. They also have great electrolyte hydrators and endurance snacks to stuff into your running belt or lululemon run pant pockets.
5) Invest in good kicks. With diabetic peripheral neuropathy affecting the feet, it’s smart to spend a bit more on running hardware to keep your soles singing. Comfort is key here, and hit up the trails if you have access to softer terrain. I went through two pairs over an 8 month period of training for half/full marathons…my wallet felt it way harder than my feet.
6) Diabetes comes first. Running comes second. If you’re having a crappy day (or the weather sucks), maybe postpone the long run or do a light cardio session on the recumbent bike. Exercise is a key component to overall health, but sometimes it can act as more of a hindrance than a help when you’re struggling with getting back on the blood sugar wagon. Sometimes less really is more.