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From Boscawen, New Hampshire, USA:

My 16-year-old daughter has had diabetes for 13 years. She competes in cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track for her high school. She runs distance events and trains throughout the year. She runs 20 miles or more a week. She's always been competitive in sports and has been on a pump for about five years. Do people who've had diabetes for as long as she has, and who were diagnosed at such an early age, reach a point where they plateau with regards to their athletic abilities, (specifically their ability to run faster times in distance events), and it becomes very difficult for them to move beyond this point? She would love to run in college and has already achieved much success at the high school level. Her best 5K time is under 20 minutes.

I know that my younger daughter, who is also a runner but not a diabetic, seems to be able to push her body to a greater limit physically, and recover faster than my other daughter. Maybe for my diabetic daughter, this has just as much to do with puberty as with her diabetes, but I was just curious.


Wow, two kids that run! I hope I will be that lucky someday. You must be so very proud. Now that you've made me jealous, I should tell you that you've brought up some really great questions, and I hope I can shed a little light on them.

As far as whether you're oldest daughter might eventually reach a point where she'll plateau - yes, she certainly might - but it won't be because of her diabetes. In fact, if your other daughter is lucky she'll reach that point, too. Everyone has a level (in physiology we used to call it the athletic ceiling or an athletic potential) where they simply cannot achieve any further. The reason why I'd say your girls would be lucky to reach that point is because few athletes do, myself included.

You're right, diabetes may be influencing her workouts and races, and those are the things at which I would take a closer look. Now that I think about it, when I was in college, I didn't give enough thought to my blood glucose checks after tough workouts and races, which is when my body is trying to recover.

In the end, your daughters would be different runners whether your oldest had diabetes or not. I know it can be hard, but it's best not to compare their times to each other. Remember each race can have 10 to 20 different variables (time, temperature, course, health, etc.) to make races different from one another; diabetes just happens to be one of them.


Original posting 29 Apr 2008
Posted to Exercise and Sports


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:10:16
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