Half Marathon – Diabetic Training Progress

Diabetes Diet Emma with her 10k medalMutters to self—so why did you enter a half-marathon you eejit? Because it was January, and the said run was in nine months’ time. Distance from something is the equivalent of wearing beer goggles. Everything looks do-able when it’s months away.

Anyway, the experts recommend you try a few other races to keep motivation levels up so I entered the Vale of Leven 10k, which took place this morning (Saturday 2 June).

Many runners think of 10k as nothing. Easy-peasy to train for and do. Not me. Mama Nature didn’t make me a natural runner. I plod. Sometimes a 4k feels like a Herculean struggle. I can walk long distances without finding it onerous or unpleasant. I should stick to that, right?

Mornings or Evenings?

Races mostly take place in the mornings too. I’m not a fan of morning runs. My blood sugars do weird zig-zaggy things at that time of day (see pic). I’d rather run at lunchtime or early evening when they’ve had time to settle down. Plus, there’s the whole ‘what to do I do about breakfast and insulin’ question.

Still, the day came round and I got up early. Are you familiar with west coast of Scotland summers? For the most part, they promise much and deliver little. This year, however, May has been unbelievably warm and sunny. Weather forecasters promised cooler weather and even rain, but it dawned bright and sunny once more.

Eeks. My ideal run takes place at about 8 degrees with drizzle and a strong wind behind me.

The run started at Moss O’Balloch next to Loch Lomond Shores and spectacular as far as scenery goes. Parts of the route were recycled so runners like me faced the depressing sight of the fast yins heading home as we puffed and panted our way past kilometres seven and eight.

Hanging out with the Back Pack

Ah well! Lisa Jackson who writes for Women’s Running and who has a fair few marathons and ultra-marathons under her belt talks about the joys of hanging out at the back of the pack. Crowds tend to cheer you on a lot more. The marshals, volunteers and people at the race were most encouraging.

Pain when it’s passed leaves an imprecise memory—thank god—so I remember struggling for the first two kilometres as they were uphill and then at the last bit where I speeded up to keep up with the one hour pacer. But the detail’s no longer there, just the relief and pride of finishing.

tee shirt and medal for a 10k runI’m a sucker for a goodie bag and this one included a tee shirt (too big, but they always are as they’re sized for men), a medal, a bottle of water and a Mars bar. Chivas sponsored the event, but sadly a wee nip wasn’t included.

First Finisher

It’s years since I’ve run in a race. You rely on the atmosphere to chivvy you on; the crowds shouting encouragement, so you keep running when you want to walk. Or crawl, in my case. This wasn’t a busy run—I’d guess 550 people—and the ability mixed. I channelled Lisa. Yes! It’s BRILLIANT to hang out at the back, or the second half of the group at least. According to the ticket I collected at the end, I finished 257th and the 22nd woman for my age group (senior vet, whit whit whit??).

For other diabetic geeks, my blood sugar when I got up this morning was 13.6 (oops). I took half a unit of fast-acting insulin to correct this and I took my basal insulin at 7.30am and knocked two units off the usual dose. To avoid working out food and insulin requirements, I didn’t bother with breakfast* and ate a Hike bar—Aldi’s own-brand protein bars, 25g carbs and 9g fibre—twenty minutes before starting. My blood sugar at that point was 10.6, so I took another half unit of fast-acting insulin. I didn’t test my levels immediately after finishing, but an hour later they were 9.6.

So, another three months and I run more than twice that amount. Ooh, ‘eck! I ran the 10k in 60 minutes and 53 seconds (I told you I was slow), which puts me on course for running the half in two hours-ish. Wish me luck!


*Don’t do this at home, kids. I have no nutritional or sports expertise related to type 1 diabetes or in general.


8 thoughts on “Half Marathon – Diabetic Training Progress”

  1. I read through your experience and things like this have always terrified me. Not for the lack of knowledge I can do if but the same issue you had the morning before you ran the race. How will it affect my sugar level? I no longer use a pump as both experiences with one have been, let’s just say, less then favorable. I was even in on a trial of the Medtronic 670G, the nearly full automatic pump. It was supposed to make controlling my sugar levels much better and certainly easier. When you posted about changes to your basal rate and the corrections you used I was astonished. My basal rate was lower, much lower. At times it was only about 0.250 units per hour so if you were able to drop it 2 units, common sense says that yours was higher than that. I would have been in c comma with that basal rate. Also the part that caught my attention was corrections you gave for the highs. Here in the USA we use the other system so using a formula to convert for you, if I had a reading of 11.2 (201.6 here) I would be giving 1 unit to correct. When still on the 670G, it would shut itself off for up to 4 hours at time to TRY and keep me from crashing. It did not work. The hourly alarms for it being out of range got to be very annoying and I still had to eat to bring it back up. At the end she actually had me tested, I do have to say it was the first time in 40 years this test had ever been run on me, with a C peptide test to see if I actually was a type 1 diabetic. Well it came back that I definitely was type 1. So the question was why was I so sensitive to the basal rates. The end diagnosis was that I simply was extremely sensitive to insulin, more than most diabetics. I am 49 years old. How am I still this sensitive? You are supposed to get higher resistance over time. The pump was already set to give as small a correction as it could, there was no going any lower. The “complex algorithm” they touted so much couldn’t keep up with me for some reason. The end of my relationship with my now former endo was over my diet. She wanted me to go to a full ketogenic diet. My worries were in the amount of food I would have to consume to keep up with that plan. I told her that on average I eat about 2800 to 3500 calories a day. It sounds like a lot but the fact that after starting the pump I actually lost weight by not eating extra food in an attempt to let the pump do its thing. I went from 420 carbs a day down to about 280 in the end. She sent me to see another specialist about my diet. This specialist agreed with me that a ketogenic diet would not work in my life style. I was too active. I made changes to my diet but it nowhere near a ketogenic diet. Former endo seemed to think that with all the carbs showing up on my sheet that I was eating only carbs instead of protein. I eat plenty of protein. I was a weightlifter back in the day and still wish to get back to it when I can afford to so I still eat like one. I just wanted to say after all this typing is that I loved your post. It helped me realize for myself what I have been telling other diabetics for years, I am different. No one follows a universally set course on being a diabetic. Our lives are all different as are our bodies. Thank you for bringing this back in front of my eyes. It truly helps to know that we are all different as are our paths to control. Oh and CONGRADULATIONS on running your race to the end. Another inspiring tale of diabetics pushing their limits to be better despite the added challenges of diabetes.


    1. Hi Bob, thanks for reading and commenting. I don’t use formulas to calculate (I probably should, but there you go…) but my rough guide was that I’d normally use 1 unit to correct a 13.6 reading, but I took half because I knew I was going to run. The half I took before the race was to cover the food too because I knew I had to eat. Funnily enough, I found the run okay. It didn’t feel like a struggle even in the heat so maybe I’ve found the solution! High blood sugars, tiny bits of insulin and a Hike bar… (Again, please don’t use me as an adviser for diabetes or exercise.) I was on a pump years ago and found it didn’t deliver as promised. I also had hypos all the time when I exercised, which I think might have been because exercise makes your body so sensitive to insulin and with a pump, you’ve got insulin going in all the time. My theory, anyway. I also didn’t like the pump because it fed my OCD. I fiddled with it all the time, adjusting here and there by micro amounts. Anyway, interesting to hear of your experience with the 670G. Not the miracle it purports to be? Emma


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