October 4, 2009
Exercise and Sports, Insulin
Question from Belfast, Northern Ireland:
I’ve had type 1 diabetes for 20 years, misbehaved the most of those years, and only now am I realizing the importance of behaving better. Better late than never, eh? I’ve started triathlon training and found I’m fortunate enough to be a bit of a natural athlete. I am having issues with keeping my blood sugars under control though. At first, during a 10K run, I would go low about a third of the way in so I reduced my NovoRapid before exercise by a couple units, only to end up going higher than I would like earlier on in the run and getting too tired to complete it comfortably. The swim doesn’t seem to cause the same fluctuations. The cycle has the same issues as the run, but after a longer time and not so markedly.
I’m not injecting into my thighs or gluteals on running or cycling days. And, if I drink any more, I honestly think I will burst so it’s not dehydration, I wouldn’t think. I spoke to my care team last week about my problems and they looked at me like I was a mad man. They basically told me to take up an easier sport if I must. Really not much help! The tri season is finished now so I really want to get this sorted before the next race season. I think I could really enjoy this and be pretty good at it if I could work this all out.
My nephew is also diabetic and heading straight down the same road I took so I would really like to show him a good example. He might not get off as lightly from misbehaving as I seem to have.
I’d appreciate any advice.
First, let me say how impressed I am by your question. Triathlons are tough enough to begin with, but to add diabetes to it, now that’s a challenge. One strategy for the run/bike that might help is to take in some carbohydrates one-third into the discipline to help with the lows you were having during the last one-third. This is a very short answer of course to a very big question, so I’d like to recommend a group that might help. You might be interested in seeing if you can join Triabetes, is a USATriathlon team (I think they’d let you join even though you’re not in the states) that consists of triathletes with diabetes. There are about 125 of us (yes, I said us, I’m a member) and we compete in events ranging from sprint triathlons to the ironman.