Running Low


On my last few runs I have set the basal rate on my pump  at 45% (down from 50%). Although I haven’t had any real lows lately, I have felt that this is not low enough and that I am always in danger of hypoglycemia. I have also been feeling like I am using energy gels too often in order to keep my blood sugar under control (and not to supply my body with carbohydrates).

Yesterday, I had a easy pace 8 mile run planned. The run started off fine including a blood check and a gel after 2 miles. I was running at an easy pace when after 4-5 miles I started feeling week and sluggish. I stopped to check my blood sugar. 61. (I had taken an energy gel just 2 mile earlier). I thought to myself that this may be a false reading, a result of too much sweat on my hands and decided to check again. I wiped my finger on a nearby wall to dry it off and tested.63. Not much better. (I have had a few false readings of 28 lately)

I quickly took another gel and continued running slowly. It did the trick and a few minutes later I felt fine again but I knew that that had been a close call. Any lower and I would have had to stop.

So this morning when I woke up at 3:53am to get ready for my run I decided to lower my basal rate to 40%.  I got out of bed quietly, trying not to wake Jessica and Adam (who were up a large portion of the night) and went to check my blood sugar. It was 136.

A little before 5:00am, as I was about to leave my blood sugar was 115. I knew that was low to start off with, so after a mile I checked again- BS 91. I took a gel.  I felt good and kept on going towards my friends, meeting them a few minutes later.

After 2-3 miles I stated to feel like I was having a hard time keeping up. Normally this would not have been surprising but they were going at my pace. We all stopped to drink at one of the water fountains and I checked my blood sugar again. It was 72. I was very surprised, not only was my blood sugar not going up, it had dropped. I took another gel and continued. I got my energy back, but 2 miles later I was only 93. I decided to not take any chances and consumed one more energy gel. I don’t think I have ever had three of those things in such a short period of time. I finished the run feeling great and strong. When I got home I checked again. This time my blood sugar was 87.

I don’t know what I should do to keep my blood sugar up during my runs. May be I should disconnect the pump and leave it at home, or maybe I need to eat real food before the run. I guess I just need to keep trying.

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Catherine Price
9 years ago

Amy, My “routines” of checking during runs are all a product of highs and lows. It took me a long time, and many test strips to learn when I need to test myself and when I need to take my carb (gels). Before going on the pump I knew my body so well that I didn’t check at all. Now I’m back checking again very often during my runs. I check every 45 minutes (starting 15 minutes in to the run) and sometimes more depending on how I feel (week, sluggish, dizzy) and how low my BS was last time… Read more »

9 years ago

Michael, How did you work out these “routines” that you reference (ie: testing 2 miles in and taking a gel).  I got diabetes less than six months ago and was a pretty avid runner –though not like you! — prior to the diagnosis.  Where I was running 6 miles pretty easily in February, I tried to do 2 miles the other day and had to stop because my legs felt tingly after a mile and a half and my blood sugar was 50.  I carb load before the run, skip my morning insulin altogether, have cut back on my lantus,… Read more »

Dr. Margaret A. Morris

It’s going to be different for every person, but for me, when I work out in the morning, I eat beforehand (a Clif bar) and way under-bolus for the carbs (about 50% of normal). That keeps me relatively stable for the hour of exercise, even with my basal at normal. If I do less planned exercise, I do my best to pre-load the temp basal; that is, I’ll suspend the basal entirely for an hour beforehand if possible, then re-enable half way through the exercise to help with the post-exercise spike I often see. The trick is that if I’m… Read more »

Sam Gellman
9 years ago

I agree with Matt.  The little I exercise it’s always a battle to fight low blood sugar.  I still remember leading bike trips in 2002-03.  I went from giving myself 45 units of insulin per day to 4 units.  No joke.  My total insulin intake went down by 90%.

Every person is different and to make matters worse, every person is constantly changing.  That’s the battle.
Have you tried a CGM?  It can at least help remove some of the mystery it sounds like you’re dealing with.  (though not perfect by any stretch).

Robin Cacopardo
9 years ago

Thanks Matt. my basal rate is 0.45 during the day and from midnight to 5:30 0.65. 40% of that is well over the 0.01-0.05 your talking about. I will start working my way down.
Thanks again

Matt M.
Matt M.
9 years ago

I wouldn’t disconnect the pump entirely, but it seems like your body is telling you to turn down the basal even more dramatically. Typically, when I go for a bike ride, I turn down my usual 0.4 to 0.1 or even 0.05 about 45 minutes before leaving (if I can predict that). Then on the ride I continue at that lower rate, or even sometimes suspend temporarily depending on my numbers. I consume around 40g of carbs per hour in the form of gel or liquid. That’s usually good to keep me around 100-140 for about a 6-7 hour, 100-mile… Read more »

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