Base Training


Most runners have heard of base training but I’m not sure if most really know what it means.  I didn’t until now. For the last two years, since I started running marathons, I’ve spent a good part of the year – September through April – training for one marathon or another. During the four months I wasn’t training I, rested running casually three to four times a week with no plan or a schedule. I knew that after a short resting period it was time to build a base, but I didn’t really know what that meant.

Since joining my running group this has changed. Our coach has us all building a good base for the upcoming season. What this means is that we are all running hills and tempo runs and are also running a longer weekend run of 12 – 15 miles. The idea behind this is to enter the training period much stronger and faster. So although haven’t started training for a marathon yet, I’m running 40+ miles a week (which is close to what I was running at the peak of my training a year ago).

This base building period is especially important to me because  I will be going on the pump in a very short while which means that I will need time to re-learn how to balance my food/insulin/running again.

I was aware of the fact that this move could interfere with my running so I waited until after I completed my last race of the season before starting the process of getting an insulin pump. But the truth is that before I decided to go on the pump I was concerned more about the aesthetic and psychological sides of it all than the practical sides. I was much more concerned with how I would feel being attached to a constant physical reminder that I was not as healthy as I wish I was, attached to something that reminded me of my diabetes even when I wasn’t injecting or eating, than how it would affect my daily schedule.  I still worry about psychological effect but the truth is I think about diabetes anyway all the time, and if it really improves my blood sugar control I will get used to the whole thing.

Now I have two main worries, how it will affect my sleeping (something I will just have to wait and see) and how it will affect my running.

It took me a long time to get to a place where I know exactly what to eat the day before a long run, how much basal insulin to take at night according to the length of my run and how often to take gels to keep my blood sugar at a good level.  The process involved months of monitoring my blood sugar levels while I ran, experimenting with fueling during runs and insulin doses.  I’ve finally gotten to the point where I take my glucometer with me on runs just for good luck (and so I don’t feel like an idiot if something happens).

When I made the decision to try pumping I knew there would be an adjustment period which would include my running, but it didn’t seem like such a big deal at the time. Now that I’m actually going through with it, and I’ve started to think about life with the pump (all theoretical) it seems like a much bigger deal.

So this base training period will be not just a time to get faster and stronger, but also to get used to my new way of taking insulin. When I do start training for the next marathon I hope I’ll be surprised by my strength and speed and not by my blood sugar levels.

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