Running a 1/2 Marathon with T1D (and other things)

So I did a thing- I ran a 1/2 marathon (well my second- but I really don’t count the first because that was just chaos and a crap show- full into my thyroiditis and exercise was painful- I was also not prepared).

This also needs a disclaimer- please remember I am NOT a medical professional. Please do not just make changes before talking with your Diabetes care team- I spent time working with them. I’m not saying what is or what is not right for you (because everyone is different and has different preferences). Different things work for different people. Please do not take this post as medical advice- I’m sharing my experiences based off of all of the questions I have gotten regarding my experience- Thanks!:)

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At this point last fall- around October 2015- I had been trying to get to a disney race for over 4 years. Something had always come up- either my health or my financial situation. Now that I was out of college, I would be going to a Disney race. I get online, and the Disney World ones were already sold out- so I decided to look at the Disneyland Races- and there it was the Tinkerbell 1/2 Marathon- I thought why not- I looked up flight costs- basically the same as going to Florida to Boston- so I decided hello vacation!

A few questions and stubborn thoughts went through my head- what would it be like to properly train and run this unlike the first time? How do I not have to constantly eat because of the diabetes? Etc etc.

 

First the doctor reminded me, anyone running needs to refuel their body regardless if they have T1D or not- I hadn’t really thought about that.

Then I shared my dislike of glucose tablets and it being hard to chew during a run. He introduced me to Clif Shot Energy Gel- my new favorite low treatment for working out and for while I’m on the go.

 

 

I did research and such online, but friends and my healthcare team were a great resource to prepare!

I was on my way to get really started with my training a few months later. For my usual runs- I already do 3-5 miles so it would be moving from there.

I made sure to include yoga, proper stretching, proper warm-up and cool-down, and strength training- which are already a part of my routines, but I made sure to be really on top of it.

I gave myself over 3 months for training. To factor in travel, getting sick, and my periods being a pain. (plus sometimes I can be a little lazy)

I introduced an extra mile each week and did a long(er) run twice per week. For each week- I aimed for 2 long(er) runs, 2 short runs with strength training, a day of yoga, and 2 rest days. Of course this didn’t always happen.

I was told that I just needed to get to 9 miles for training- but I wanted to know what my asthma and T1D would do with 13.1.

Side note- I aim to workout in the morning. Less factors with the diabetes plus I lose all motivation after the AM.

Oh- and what is my motivation? Beer and food. I literally have tanks that say that. I’ve gotten asked what my motivation is and how do I get out of bed to workout- sometimes I don’t. I press snooze and go “nah” another day. I know the overall benefits for my health and mental health, but again for me- it’s all about craft beer and food. I also really enjoy watching the sun rise over Boston- specifically the Esplanade- so that’s helpful.

During my training and specific distance- this is what I learned.

  • I need to use my inhaler 30 minutes before I start my run, right before, 1 hour in, and 2 hours in.
  • I eat breakfast like usual.
  • During my walking warm-up I go to 70% of my basal.
  • Once I start running I go to 30% of my basal.
  • 10 minutes into my run, I go to 0%, BUT
  • I time my basal to my pace and distance. If I am running over 6 miles- I make sure that my basal goes back to normal around mile 5 and 1/2. Because without fail no matter what I do, I would spike from miles 6-9 (sometimes I might even give insulin based off of my blood sugar).
  • After mile 2, I start to sprint every mile because it uses different muscles so it helps with lows. I only do this if I am doing over 4 miles.
  • Around mile 4, I take an energy gel shot so I don’t go low.
  • Now you might ask- why do that and sprint and then change the basal- for me- I’ll go low if I don’t do something and then still go high. So I need to do both.
  • Around mile 9, I change my basal again to 70%. Depending on where I am, I might do a little bit less.
  • At mile 10, I usually have another energy gel shot.
  • After the run, I cut off my basals for 30 minutes.
  • For the rest of the day, I have my basals around 80%.

For yoga- my basal is around 30% the entire time. For strength training- I usually follow it with a short run so I don’t do anything because for me they balance each other out.

Other “side notes”

  • I did contact my endo when I couldn’t figure something out.
  • This is the main reason I like the CGM.

Day of the race I learned:

  • Have a kick ass running playlist. 🙂
  • Chaffing is rough- praise vaseline- (not just the chub rub life- but also for any place that might rub together- like my arms).
  • Running fanny packs and or other tools are your friend.
  • Dress up if that is how the race is.
  • Treat yourself afterwards 🙂
  • Moisturize your feet!!!!! My poor feet…
  • Sunscreen is your cool and good for your health.
  • The adrenaline helps with the blood sugars (for once). I stayed around the low 200s the entire race.
  • I only had about 24 carbs and barely changed my basal- which I attribute to the adrenaline.
  • Make sure you do your usual foods and plans.
  • Know that how trained will of course help, but keep in mind it won’t go just like you trained so be ready.
  • You’ll actually learn that you are serious runner if you thought you weren’t.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Have less factors to impact your BG- start this 24 hours before. (So I opted to not go visit a local brewery the day before- especially because my BG’s had been rough the night before)

 

 

So then I got a thing- a medal because I’m a “Champion with Diabetes”

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Shout out to Stephen for sending me this and for Kim recommending me for it. ❤ It actually meant a lot to be thought of- especially because I don’t exactly identify as an athlete. (This post and shout-out- LONG over due)

 

I am so happy that I finally got to do a Disney race- here’s to more 1/2 marathons and maybe even a full one some day. The best part for me wasn’t finishing or the training or that my body actually cooperated. The best part was that I felt so accomplished that I made this happen- just me (not including help I got in figuring things out). I felt accomplished because it was something for me to be proud of that was a very personal thing- especially because I had wanted to do a Disney Race for SO long, and something always came up that was out of my control. I definitely live by the notion you should never get up and (try) to not let anything stop you- but that doesn’t mean you might not need or have to figure out a different plan or hold off for a bit- that’s not giving up or letting something stop- that’s being realistic and flexible. Goals don’t have to change (sometimes they do which is fine), but the process should and always will be up for discussion.

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Hey you! Yes, you! 

Let’s connect on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram (maybe even 2 or all of those!). 

If you enjoyed this post, please comment and share. I’d also appreciate your feedback.

and of course-don’t forget to keep up with “There’s More to the Story” via email! (Right sidebar towards the top).

We’ll both be glad you did! -Mindy

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9 thoughts on “Running a 1/2 Marathon with T1D (and other things)

  1. Congratulations Mindy! You are indeed a remarkable Champion, and an awesome example of perseverance for all of us living with diabetes. Loved reading your story!

  2. So proud of you! I’m jealous because I do not have the motivation or discipline to do ANY running. Mindy- you can do anything you set your mind to! Honored to call you a friend!

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