Here at Timesulin, we’re big fans of staying active and pushing personal boundaries because of the incredible benefits that staying healthy and physically fit has on managing your blood sugar and overall Type 1 diabetes. Even more important, it’s a good reminder that T1D isn’t a condition that has to limit your activities or your life in any kind of way. And, it can be hugely rewarding and motivational to challenge yourself and meet your own personal goals.
Recently, I decided to forge ahead and begin training for another triathlon. Obviously, running a triathlon with T1D has the potential to be tricky, but with a little foresight and a lot of planning, it’s not all that bad. The following post is Part 1 in a two-part personal series about how I planned for, trained, and participated in my last triathlon.
Aside from sharing some helpful prep tips on how to manage T1D during a big race like this, I’m also hoping that this will help motivate others in the DOC.
While a triathlon is a huge challenge, the real work is in the preparation – getting in shape through weeks of running, biking, and spending time in the pool.
And while the training process is a period where triathletes can focus on getting in shape and improving their time, for those of us with Type 1 diabetes, it’s a chance to start understanding how these activities will affect our blood sugar and how we can better manage our diabetes to keep everything in check. It’s also important because it can help you figure out how to best manage your time in the actual race, while incorporating blood sugar testing. In my experience, this process usually takes about two weeks to figure out.
As far as the individual activities go, each part of the triathlon training had different effects on my blood sugar and required a slightly different approach for management.
Running generally doesn’t cause any issues with my blood sugar, and I run 6-10km when I’m training, testing before I start. As long as my blood sugar is ok before I begin, I’ve noticed that I don’t have any problems.
Biking is a little more difficult, since to conserve time, you need to test on the go. I have a set route from central Stockholm, Sweden to Vaxholm, Sweden and back – 37 km each way – that I ride 1-2 times each week and used to prepare for the triathlon.
During my ride, I usually have some type of sports drink, diluted to 50%, in my water bottle for breaks and to help adjust my blood sugar levels, if needed. I also tested my blood sugar before starting, a least once during my ride, and then whenever else I felt the need to check during cycling.
- Swimming is definitely the most challenging aspect of triathlon training, due to the fact that you have to stop swimming, get up, and test your blood sugar. Given that hassle, I would test before and after my swim. I would also eat a power bar or something similar before my swim to help manage BGL.
One of the biggest issues I experienced with managing my blood sugar in the water is that it’s hard to be in tune with your body when you’re underwater, short of breath, and tired. And most of the time, I found that after getting out of the water, my blood sugar was low.
Unfortunately, being on the road a lot this year, I only managed to get in four swims and one long uninterrupted swim outside of a pool before the actual race. Having more time to get used to managing my blood sugar before and after a swim would have been helpful, but that will have to wait until my next big race prep.
In the next installment, I’ll cover the actual race day and how my training and T1D planning panned out. Until then, what types of activities do you participate in and how do you plan for and manage your diabetes regimen? Share your secrets in the comments!