Carrying Diabetes Equipment When Training

I am often asked how I deal with all of the diabetes paraphernalia when I am training and racing. With the risks associated with exercising and maintain BGLs I have learnt the importance of having all of my diabetes equipment with me at all times. These items can now include; insulin pump, CGM or blood testing kit, snacks for hypos/energy, mobile phone for emergencies and some money.  To carry all of these items can make things difficult but I have been able to find ways to do so and not hinder my training sessions or races. I have looked to carry everything so that when swimming, running or riding my technique and comfort is not affected.

Swimming

  • I just tuck the pump into my bathers. I have stitched a little pouch into the back of my bathers in the past but this is not necessary.
  • When swimming in a wetsuit I generally just do the same but you just have to be careful when putting on and taking off the wetsuit as you can knock the pump or push buttons which can cancel a temp basal or deliver an insulin dose accidentally.
  • When swimming in the pool I always have my testing kit on the pool deck in a waterproof bag and a small towel to dry my hands prior to doing a test during the session.
  • Remember to always rinse your pump off after swimming a salt or chlorine aren’t the friendliest to the pump.

Cycling

  • Cycling jerseys are great for carrying all the things that we need in the back pockets. Generally three pockets for my pump, blood test kit, food and mobile phone.
  • I always have my pump connected when I train and to keep it safely in my back pocket I cut a small hole in the back of the jersey and then run the pump tube through the jersey, under my cycling shorts and then connect to the cannula. This works a treat and also allows easy access to the pump whilst riding.
Run Pump Image

Pump tube (circled) with pump safely in the back pocket of my triathlon singlet

Running

  • Running is the most tedious of my sessions as carrying extra items can really impact your running technique and you can feel weighed down.
  • I wear a triathlon singlet-top which has two pockets in the back which I can place my items in. These tops are available from many brands and they usually have at least two pockets on the back.
  • I wear a pretty tight singlet so that the items do not bounce around too much. I can squeeze in my pump, test kit and food without issue.

Gym

  • Doing a session in the gym can be difficult as you are moving around a lot and the pump can easily get in the way or the tube can get caught on something.
  • I wear training shorts which have a small pocket on the inside at the front or side where I can safely keep my pump and have the tube tucked into my shorts. Safe, secure and out of the way.

The most important thing is that you carry all of the necessary items. It can be a pain at first but when you get caught out without your test kit, food or money it can quickly get serious. Lessons learnt here from experience, always carry you diabetes items.

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3 thoughts on “Carrying Diabetes Equipment When Training

  1. Hi Alex,

    Thanks for the advice. When you are competing in the swim leg of a triathlon do you carry your blood sugar meter on you and how often do you test your blood sugar when in the open water?

    Thanks

    Tim

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    • Hi Tim,

      Thanks for you comments. Sounds like you’re making some great progress and it’s awesome that you’re targeting a half Ironman in the future #diabetesnolimits

      I do not carry my blood sugar meter with me when I am open water swimming. With my Ironman swim being about 50mins I can get through this confidently without needing to test. I imagine that you might be able to use a sensor like the Freestyle Libre Flash if it’s in a water proof back. You could have this strapped around your waist and this wouldn’t impact your swimming too much. You could then test in the water if you needed to.

      For most triathlons the swim would be less than 1 hour so with some practice you’ll learn where your levels need to be before you start (generally a little higher) and what levels of insulin you can have in your system to avoid a hypo. When I started I just ran a little high in the swim and then managed it once I got into the bike leg. Water and medical devices generally don’t go together so it’s easier to avoid. When you are swimming in the pool take some time to do regular tests, say every 10-15mins, and this will give you an idea of how you levels will track in an open water swim. THe pool is also a safe environment to test things in case you have a hypo and need to stop/eat something.

      All the best. Happy to answer any other questions you have.

      Alex.

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  2. Hey Alex, just stumbled across your blog whilst trying to find tips with the freestyle CGM sensors.
    Bit of my back story, I’ve been type 1 diabetic for close to 19 years and had great control most that time, but am still on the old school methods of finger pricks and injections which I have great control with and haven’t seen the need to switch over to the pump as yet (although as tech improves I’m always watching).
    Been bike riding for years and use to long distance events but recently caught the triathlon bug and completed in my first one about a month ago and kicked it off with a standard distance one which was going great until the run leg where I got a severe hypo about 2km into the 10km. I had to slam a lot of emergency gels to get the sugars up and try to carry on. Which resulted in walking a few km and finish the last few km at a slow jog feeling the after affects of a severe hypo and stomach issues of putting in so many gels in a short period of time haha.
    So after the race I went back to revaluate where it went wrong and basically down to race adrenalin and not bothering to slow down and check sugars and tried the eat and guess method (I had my kit sitting in transition but just skipped over it). Also being my first one I didn’t quite know what to expect and found out race pace is a lot harder than training, especially when I did a few test triathlons and linking a swim bike and run together to try get a rough idea of what my body will do and how my sugars would react. Appears the race got to me and pushed myself a lot harder than expected and my sugars crashed accordingly.

    But I have to say it’s finally good to read experiences from a diabetic and get tips from someone in the same boat! It’s very refreshing and have already found some great insights, especially tapering before a race and it messing up a routine and resulting in changing exercise can cause swings in insulin requirements etc.

    But as I finish my wall of text I thought I should ask my question. I’m back giving the freestyle CGM and going to trial it whilst training over the next 6 weeks before my next event to try it and see if I can trust it’s reading. My only concern is with the cost of the sensors and the worry of them falling off From sweat or swim training. It does say it is waterproof for 30min, but as we all know swim training is generally a lot longer than that. So I’m seeing if you have had any problems with the sensor falling off or becoming unreliable due to water or sweat issues and if you have any tips to prevent it (eg – cover in a water proof bandage)

    Also now in search of good nutrition and foods to carry that can be easy on the stomach and keep the sugars at a good level. But I’m hoping with the freestyle I’ll easily be able to keep an eye on my sugars (esp whilst riding) and have them at a good level before hitting the run.

    Cheers!

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