The Heart Rate Experiment – Part 2 – Insulin, Beer and Running

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It’s been a week since I set out to discover what makes my heart rate shoot up while I run. I’ve been running with my glucometer (for the first time in my life) and checking my BS at different points during my runs.

I have gone on four runs since my last post and each run has been different, both in distance and in pace. The first, last Thursday morning, was an uneventful 10.5 mile run.  My plan was to run the first 5 miles at 140 HR the next 5 miles at 150 HR (and the last half mile was a cool down). The run went as planned with BS levels staying at around 150 with the help of my halva snacks.

I ran again the next afternoon (Friday) with a friend of mine who’s getting over a knee injury. I hadn’t had time to eat very much during the day so I ate something an hour before the run. My BS was a little high when I began eating (215) so I took enough insulin (8 units of Apidra) to bring me back to normal. I checked my BS before leaving to run and to my surprise it was 301!  I probably would have waited an hour before setting out to run, had I not had a date to keep (and I had a little under an hour before I had to pick my son Tom up from his sailing class).

We planned an easy 5 mile run. I was concerned about starting a run with a BS of 300, and I was sure my HR would shoot up right away, but it didn’t. I felt fine and after 2.5 miles I checked my BS and it had dropped to 120. I decided to eat half a halva snack and keep running. I felt fine and because I thought I was going to be late to pick up Tom, I ran faster than usual and ended up running a half mile more than I planned.  At the end of the run my BS was 78.

My HR didn’t shoot up as I’d expected, but I did see how quickly my BS could drop when combining running and insulin. It was actually scary to imagine what would have happened if I had gone on a longer run without a glucometer.

My next run was on Sunday morning the day after the Champions League Final between Inter Milan and Bayren Munich. I had stayed up to watch the game with a friend. It wasn’t the best game I’ve seen but that didn’t stop me from drinking 4 beers during the match. I took some extra insulin but woke up to experience once more that the theory “you can eat whatever you want as long as you cover it with insulin” is B.S. (this b.s. does not refer to blood sugar). My fasting BS was 245.

I knew that starting out high after a night of drinking it wasn’t going to yield the best run of the year, but as tired and groggy as I was, I decided to run. I planned a run 6-7 mile run at a HR of 135 – an easy pace. I felt fine and there was no sign of HR problems. I checked my BS after a mile and a half (193) and again at the end of the run.  After 6.5 miles my BS was 135.  I didn’t eat anything before or during the run and again I saw how quickly my BS dropped from the running (combined with 20 units of long acting Lantis).

This morning I ran a 7 mile tempo run (including 1.5 miles warm up and cool down on each end). It went exactly as planned with my BS at a steady 150-160.

I may not have learned a thing about my HR so far but I have been learning a lot about my BS. Running with a glucometer, and testing my BS throughout the run, I’ve seen just how quickly BS can drop when insulin and running mix (long and short acting insulin). I’ve realized how crucial it is for me to eat during runs. And I can’t help but think how much better my training would have been had I run with a glucometer, and checked my BS during all of my marathon training.  I would have learned how my body responds to the running at different stages.  I also I would have been much better off during the Rotterdam marathon had I stopped to check my BS when my HR went crazy (if not earlier).

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