Running and Pumping – Lowering the Basal Rate on My Insulin Pump

After finding myself low on my first two runs with an insulin pump, I decided to try reducing the basal rate on my pump during my next run. One of the reasons I’d originally decided to try the insulin pump was to be able to control and change the basal rate during different parts of the day. While using Lantus I couldn’t find a dose that would keep me low enough during the night and also didn’t make me go low throughout the day, especially when I ran.

So, with my new Veo in pocket and my blood sugar control better than it had been in a long time, I knew it was time to lower my basal rate when I run.  The problem?  I did not know by how.  I decided to start with 50% and work my way from there.

Minimed Veo Insulin Pump - Seting Temp Basal 50%

The next run happened to be my long weekend run which lucky for me was only a 15 mile run.

I woke up at 4:20 and started getting ready for my run. At about 5:00  I checked my email and saw that there were comments on Tu Diabetes – Diabetics Who Run Marathons where I’d posted a comment the day before asking for advice about reducing my basal rate. Jerry Nairn said to be sure to reduce the basal rate an hour before starting to run. It was a little late for that, but I wasted no time and adjusted the pump- 15 minutes before I needed to leave to meet up with some of the guys from my running group.

I started off feeling fine and checked my blood sugar after 3 miles. I wasn’t low but I wasn’t high enough either – 92. I took an energy gel and it seemed to do the trick because when I checked again two miles later I was 130. I continued to run and took another gel at around 10 miles.

I’ve run a few more times since then and found that even when I do reduce the basal rate an hour before the run I still go a little low. The gels did bring my BS up to the 130s but after 45 minutes to an hour I was back down in the 80s, which is too low. I also haven’t run any 20+ milers yet. I know that on those runs something happens to the body after 20 miles and it starts burning at a higher rate.

My next step is to try lowering the basal rate by a little more than 50% and see what happens. I’m happy I have this time to experiment so when I actually start training for a marathon I will only have some fine tuning left to do on my pumping.

Comments (6)

  1. bee at

    Did you have breakfast before running?

  2. Michael Aviad at

    No. I never eat before I run. I usually run very early and I don’t want to bolus before I run. Now on the pump I may need to incorporate a little food before a long run.

  3. Michelle S at

    if you run early and don’t have a few hours to work with, you may want to suspend your insulin completely for the hour before you run (how high is your basal?).  that’s what i do when i know for sure i am going to exercise.  the only exception is for races… last summer i realized they are different because the adrenaline i feel before a race drives my sugar up so i need my basal.  I have a very low basal rate though… .3 or .4 an hour and right now it is .05 because I am breastfeeding twins!
    If I ever wake up in the night and am heading towards a low, I can change my basal to 0 for a few hours and avoid having to snack.  Glad you seem to like the pump!

  4. bee at

    @ Michael – usually, when I’m running in the morning (and I’m an amateur/recently started to run), I eat banana and take minimum bolus (depends on my sugar level). Than before running I lower my basal rate up to 50%. After exercise my levels are normal to hypo.
    I’ll for sure try to incorporate from your quote above ….” Jerry Nairn said to be sure to reduce the basal rate an hour before starting to run…” in my future exercise and see how does that work for me :)
    @ Michelle – for sure you have low basal rate :) , mine are 0.8 up to 1.0 an hour. Say hi to twins :o )

  5. kitty at

    I sure appreciate Michael’s posts and everyone’s comments. My husband’s pump start class is tomorrow. It is a little bit emotional. Everything that has been written here has really helped. Thank you.

  6. Robin at

    Have only been on my pump since the end of Feb so starting to get my head round how to work it with the running. Pretty much have it sorted for training runs and can set it to -40% before hand and start and finish at about the same BG level, no point quoting numbers as the rest of you are all using the US scale. :confused:

    Races are a different matter entirely though and I always seem to end up running high. Have just entered Amsterdam marathon in October so am hoping that I can do that without needing to carry round the 9 gels I needed to get me round Dublin marathon last year by just adjusting the basal. Don’t need to be carrying that extra weight. Lots more miles to cover before then though,

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