Off Balance


When I tell other runners I have type 1 diabetes (or tell type 1’s that I run marathons) they often ask me how I manage my blood sugar when I run. What do you eat? Can you carb load?

The truth is that during the days leading up to the Tiberias marathon I spent a lot of time worrying about my blood sugar levels. I knew that in order to run a good race I needed to I increase my carbohydrate intake during the last few days before the race. I also knew that I needed to keep my blood sugar under control during this period.

The change in carb intake – going from my usual 50g-70g a day to around 120g and up to around 200g on the day before the marathon – did make it much more difficult for me to maintain normal levels. To most people, especially runners, these are still very small amounts of carb but to me, staying in control of my blood sugar meant frequent checking and bolusing.

This wasn’t the first time I’d faced the carb loading challenge, and I wasn’t surprised when my blood sugar was in the 200’s two hours after eating.

What I wasn’t ready for was how out of control my blood sugars would be after the marathon.  After months of running five days a week, 50 – 60 miles a week, I suddenly stopped running to let my body rest. It’s been a whole week since the marathon and I’ve only been out once for a short 3 mile jog.

Without realizing it, running has become a very important component in my blood sugar management. Resting after a marathon is key to not getting injured. But not running has made it very difficult for me to control my blood sugar. So as nice as it’s been taking it easy waking up late (7:00 am), I can’t wait to get back to training. I’ve signed up for the Tel Aviv Half Marathon and am all ready to get started.

Notify of
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Scott K. Johnson
11 years ago

Isn’t it interesting how we can leverage other tools (running for you, maybe basketball for me) that we enjoy to play a role in our diabetes management?  

This is a great post because you talk about finding this piece of your overall care, and it’s one that many of us don’t pay enough attention to.

On the basal rates, I agree – I have to change mine at least an hour before I want to see the corresponding change in blood sugar. 

Robin Cacopardo
11 years ago

@mike. We are all different and therefor need to experiment on our selves. I’ve found that lowering basal rate an hour before I run works best. I lower it to 30% but you may need to do something different (50%). I know many people eat pre run but I find I go too high if I do that (and I hate eating so early in the morning). So I suggest experimenting with different basal rates. One last thing, never say never, all you need to run a marathon is do decided you are going to do it. up until 5… Read more »

11 years ago

Michael, Thanks for the post.  Here’s my problem.  I’m not a marathoner and will never be one.  However, I do run 4 miles in the mornings (5:30 a.m.), 4-5 days a week. When I wake up my BS is hopefully in the 80-120 range.  What I have always done is eat/drink something to get my BS in the 200 range pre run and then I know I’m covered for the 4 miles.  I’ve tried to ratchet back my basal pre-run but always find that my BS then rises after my run is over.   I know we are all different,… Read more »

Copyright © 2009-2021 Diabetes Media Foundation, All Rights Reserved.
ASweetLife™ is a trademark of the Diabetes Media Foundation, All Rights Reserved.
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x