To Disconnect or to not Disconnect from my Insulin Pump


I’ve been taking metformin for a couple of months now and it has made a huge change in my life. I used to wake up most mornings with blood sugar levels of 130 – 180. Now I wake up most mornings with blood sugar level of 90-120. This to me is absolutely amazing. After years of trying different things, including diet and different basal rates I finally solved this problem with the help of a drug usually prescribed to patients with type 2 diabetes. 

But like most things in life, solving one problem creates new ones.  Waking up high, although not healthy, was convenient as I go running most mornings and need my blood sugar to be higher than normal. (My doctor always tells me my blood sugar should be at least 150 before I run.)

This morning when I woke up at 4:45 a.m. my blood sugar was 95. When I saw the number I smiled to my self, happy to see a good number once again. I lowered my basal rate on my insulin pump to 30% and got ready to run. I went out a little after 5:30 a.m. and stopped to check my blood sugar after a little less than a mile. It was 98. I took a gel and continued. I took another gel 2 miles later when my blood sugar was 88 and the again 3 miles later (115). When I finished my 10.25 mile run my blood sugar was 135.

This is how my blood sugar has been during most of my runs since starting metformin. I find myself taking 2-3 gels on relatively short runs just to keep my blood sugar above 100.

This morning while running, after I took my third gel, I thought maybe I should just disconnect all together when I run – just leave my insulin pump at home. I’m a little scared to do it although it actually makes sense. I would be happy not having the extra sugar equipment on me, but I’m not sure I can go so long without any basal insulin. I also don’t know about longer runs. I’m not sure, but it seems to me that after 15 miles my blood sugar starts to get higher. I don’t know if it’s a result of taking too many gels early on or just something my body does to prove that diabetes has no rules and it will screw you every change it gets.

I guess the only thing to do is to try. I know the careful (and smart thing) to do would be to lower my basal rate to 20%, see what happens, and then lower it again and again if necessary. But the idea of not running with an insulin pump is so tempting that I may just try it and see what happens. I guess I’ll go with my gut (or my blood sugar level) when I wake up tomorrow morning.

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Chris Scully-Brown
10 years ago

I’m going to add a couple two cents in here. Just watch out for post exercise highs if you disconnect or lower it a lot. I find I struggle with that.
Maybe lower basals even earlier….

Jennifer Jacobs
10 years ago

I hear you on the frustration of having to eat a ton to stave off a low while you’re exercising. I talked to my endo about how to prevent lows during afternoon/evening workouts, and she suggested that I drop my basal insulin even earlier than it sounds like you’re doing — like one and a half hours before I exercise — since it takes that long for the temp basal to really take effect. What if you tried that? Also, it seems to me there are two possible variables here:  1. The metformin itself is causing you to be more… Read more »

10 years ago

Michael, I’m going all the way to 2h runs (a half marathon for me) without the pump.  Usually insulin lasts 3-4h and if your basal rates aren’t too small, you should not get into DKA that easily, especially in the mornings when hormones delay the insulin resorbtion even more. What works for me is leave the basal rate untouched (to make sure I have the insulin in the system that I need), fill up on carbs if I’m under 130 or so before my run.  I use gummy bears, so I can really take just enough for the run and not overdo… Read more »

Nathan Shackelford
10 years ago

If your runs are short enough you can run on the insulin in your system and take advantage of the fact that your muscles will soak up that glucose very efficiently. The problem arises when you run out of insulin altogether and there isn’t any available to help your muscles get fuel. I did this once and was shocked at how lame I felt, the energy was absolutely gone. The next day of endurance exercise i gave plenty of insulin and glucose and I was fine. It was like night and day. I think if you go for over 60… Read more »

10 years ago

Michael – I’m having the hardest time trying to tweak my basal to make sure I don’t go low when I run.  I’m not talking long runs either – 4 to 5 miles at most.  I feel like I need to lower my basal an hour to an hour and a half before the run, otherwise I go low.  For example : the other day I lowered my basal to 30% a half hour before my run.  No IOB except for my basal.  Started the run with my bs around 130 and 20 mins into the run I was in… Read more »

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