Melbourne Marathon Report

Race Summary

  • Time: 3hrs 1min (goal time was 3hrs)
  • BGL Checks: 10 (from 6:30am started warming up to 10am end of race)
  • BGL Range: 10.0 to 18.0mmol/L (much higher than I wanted)
  • Bolus adjustment doses required: 2 x 0.25 units during the race (somewhat ineffective but taking a very cautious approach)
  • Carbs Consumed: approx. 50gr during the race (much less than planned due to high BGLs)

On Sunday 16th October I completed my first road marathon at the Melbourne Marathon and crossed the line in a time of 3hrs and 1 minute. Although I have always been fit, I have never been a runner and many years ago the thought of doing a marathon was terrifying. I went into the race with the goal of running under 3hrs and I only missed this by a minute; I am really happy and proud of my performance. Marathons are really hard and I’d rate this as one of the hardest events which I have completed, as I write this several days later my legs are still screaming at me.

The lessons that I’ll take away from this event and implement for the coming triathlon season are important for me and for bettering my performance in the future:

  • Try not to get sick before a race; nothing I could really do about this and in the end I think that I managed it pretty well
  • Increase insulin doses pre-race to cover the BGL rise from my nerves and adrenaline, this will be more important for new events where it’s more difficult to relax
  • Stay hydrated during the race and not get dehydrated; this will involve managing my own hydration and not relying on the ‘aid stations’
  • Adjust insulin plan during the race if BGLs are running high, it is important to get fuel in during a race and get the carb/insulin balance better
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Not sure how I look strong and happy at this point, just past 40km!

My training leading in the event was really good and a month before the event I decided on a goal time of 3hrs. I believed that if everything went smoothly I would be able to achieve this (though I wrongly calculated the per kilometre pace which made for some funny conversations in my head during the first 5kms of the race at 4 minute pace).

Two days before the event I came down with cold/fly symptoms which put me in bed from Friday morning. Feeling terrible with body aches and a blocked up head the only thing which I could do was rest, drink lots of water and hope that I would be feeling OK on Sunday. After months of training this was terribly depressing but I was determined to complete the marathon. With illness come higher and more irregular BGLs and I had to work really hard to keeps these within good levels for these couple of days.

With a start time of 7am I was up at 5:30am on race day and arrived in the city at 6am to get ready. My BGLs had tracked OK overnight and they were stable around 6.5mmol/L at this stage and I ate a small low carb protein bar to get some calories in before the race. My plan was to consume carbs during the race from about the 30-minute mark where my basal rate and the exercise would keep my levels reasonable stable. At 6:30am I jogged to the start line which was about 2km away, I used this as my warm-up. Just before 7am my BGLs had risen to 9.5mmol/L, I was not overly concerned about this as I expected them to plateau once the race started.

BANG! We were underway. I had decided to run with the 3hr pacer and just try to hold on to the finish line. The pace started at 4min/km and I pretty quickly realised that this was going to be a tough race and the pace for a 3hr marathon was 4:15/km pace! In my head this was scary, so I just focused on the runners around me and started ticking off the kilometres. In training I generally check my levels every 30 minutes to being with and then every 15-20mins after the first hour. I checked my levels at the 7km mark and they had risen to 16.0mmol/L, not what I had planned! I decided to give myself a small bolus dose of 0.25 units which I expected would bring them down. It was nice a this point when another runner asked me about my diabetes and said that his son had just been diagnosed. My Type1Athletic top must have been easily spotted and it felt great that I was able to tell him that type 1 diabetes had not stopped me from doing anything, including running this marathon.

Kilometres 10 to 30 passed without too many issues. I focused on having a good cadence and light ground contact and the kilometres just ticked over. I checked my BGLs every 20 minutes and they continued to be around 15mmol/L. I was nervous about giving a bolus dose and having a hypo. As I was feeling pretty good I continued with only another small 0.25 unit dose. I ate a low card protein bar at around the 1 hour mark and then a gel at around the 2hr mark when my BGLs started to trend down (but then up again after the gel). I was conscious of keeping hydrated and was taking water at every aid station. In hindsight a small cup of water every couple of kilometres really wasn’t enough and as the race progressed so did my dehydration. Sticking with the 3hr group until 35km, ticking over at 4:10 pace, not fuelled or hydrated, I then hit the proverbial wall!

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Winner are grinners; finishing with a lap of the MCG.

Although I had felt pretty comfortable up to this point the head cold, my high BGLs, lack of fuel and fluid during the race eventually caught up with me. Drained of energy and with my legs really hurting my pace dropped to 4:45 kilometres. Jogging, running, jogging, running, walking, jogging, the next 5 kilometres were a real battle. Never wanting to stop and with the MCG (the finish) visible, I just pushed as hard as I could. Walking through the two remaining aid stations I took down as much water as I could. As I got closer to and passed the 40km mark my pace quickened with a little boost of finish line adrenaline and I ran through the last kilometres feeling amazing that I was going to finish my first marathon and go oh so close that that magical 3hr mark. Crossing the line with barely the energy to raise my arms above my head, my whole body aching, my stomach churning and knowing that I was really going to suffer when I stopped, I could not have been happier. Best off all my family was in the stands of the MCG cheering me around that final lap and my best mate finished the half marathon only 10 minutes earlier, was also there to celebrate with me!

So a really challenging race both physically and mentally that I am super proud of. Starting with a head cold, running in 35km/hr winds, dealing with high BGLs due to being sick, not being able to fuel properly and then getting dehydrated all made this really really challenging. I always review my races and I will learn a lot from this event and hopefully not have to experience these challenges again (the ones which I can control).

From a diabetes point of view, the reasons for my higher BGLs during the race were (plenty to learn from here):

  • Illness; I had been suffering from a cold/flu for a couple of days leading into the race
  • Nerves/Adrenaline: Due to running my first road marathon with a challenging goal time
  • Dehydration: Dehydration can cause BGLs to rise at a more rapid rate
  • Carbs/Insulin: Trying to balance eating a small amount of carbs during the race but also dosing a small amount of insulin trying to avoid a sharp spike in BGLS
  • Exercising in the anaerobic zone; higher effort and heart rate sucking all the glycogen into my system for fuel

After going so close to 3hrs I’ll have to do another marathon to get under this magical mark. I’m also super proud of the other type 1 diabetics I saw out on course and also the people who I spoke to during the race about diabetes. I hope that we’ve inspired a few people to give something like this ago and not let type 1 diabetes hold them back.

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Diabetes No Limits

Just another example that type 1 diabetes shouldn’t stop you achieving your goals, an article by type 1 diabetic and ex. professional cyclist Justin Morris on his experience completing the Simpson Desert Challenge. Posted on the Cycling Tips website it’s great inspiration for me knowing that we can push our limits under extreme conditions just like everybody else.

Image: Euan Pennington

Image: Euan Pennington

“As a cyclist who lives with type 1 diabetes I had a few extra challenges to overcome to ensure I could manage to race in such remote conditions. I was lucky to have an amazing support crew around me to ensure I was a-ok. To even be able to attempt such an event as a T1 diabetic is something that would have been considered impossible 10 years ago. I hope by giving this race a good go I will help open the eyes of my diabetes brothers and sisters.

The Simpson Desert Bike Challenge is more than just a race; it’s a race with a purpose. The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) provides life-saving medical attention to Australians living, working and travelling in remote areas. This organisation has saved countless lives over the years and is a lifeline to many outback cattle stations and townships which are otherwise many days’ drive from any medical centre or hospital bed.”

Click through to read more at Cycling Tips.

TFM Around the Bay in a Day

This past Sunday I rode with the Freedom Machine team in their annual Around the Bay ride supporting Zagame Motors. The Zagame group was huge (over 200 people) and the weather conditions were terrible (50km/hr+ winds) but the ride was a great success.

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The TFM crew at the mid-ride stop, still smiling before the headwind return!

Details of the Ride

  • Distance: 150km including getting to the start
  • Time: 5:30am to 12pm including waiting at the start and mid-ride stop
  • BGL Checks: 20
  • BGL Range: 4.5 to 12.5mmol/L
  • Bolus doses required: none, adjusted basal program provided enough insulin
  • Carbs Consumed: approx. 150gr during ride (7am to 12pm) based on my BGLs and how I was feeling energy wise
  • Issues: ‘pump not primed’ warning which require a stop and re-prime

The evening before an event is very important, apart from organising all of my cycling kit I also figure out my diabetes plan which includes insulin (basal rate) and the food I’ll consume. For a ride like this I’ll usually take enough real food, sports bars and gels to provide up to 50gr of carbs for the first couple of hours after which I would restock. For hydration I prefer a no-carb mix as I can then always consume it no matter where my BGL’s are at (a carb loaded drink could not be consumed if BGL’s run high). With my basal rate I need to consider that although I was getting up at 5am to get to the start, the event wouldn’t actually start until 6:45am. I needed to increase basal a little for when I got up and then a little more for when the ride started. I obviously wanted to avoid a high or low whilst I was waiting for the event to start. In the end I set my basal to increase at 3am and 5am and then reduce at 8am and 10am to cover the ride duration. All in all, it’s a good hour to get things organised the night before an event.

On Sunday my alarm went off at 5am and I immediately checked my BGL’s which were running at 6.5mmol/l. A good start to the day! I usually try to get up and be training within 30 minutes so having to ride to the start of the event and then wait for around 1hr meant that I have to take extra care to maintain stable BGLs. Due to this I consumed a low carb protein bar whilst waiting at the start and I checked my BGLs every 15 minutes to ensure things remained stable, which they did. Setting off for the ride my BGLs were at 8.5mmol/L which was a good level with my increased basal rate and the cycling soon to kick in.

When cycling I usually check my levels every 30mins over the first hour, then every 20 minutes for the next couple of hours and for longer rides like this one I end up checking every 15 minutes as the risk of rapid BGL changes increases the longer I am riding for. With a strong tail wind, the first half of the ride was really fast and we were at the breakfast turn-around within 2hrs. I had consumed a muesli bar on the way down and my BGLs were dropping when we arrive. This was actually planned and I didn’t eat any carbs as we got close to the midway point know that there was food available there. I had a coffee, ate a banana and half a vegetable wrap at the stop which equated around 50gr of carb. For the 20 minute stop I would have checked my levels 4 times so that I ensure I did not go too high or low. The stop was only for 20 minutes so I did not give myself a bolus dose with any BGL increase to be limited when I started riding again. We ended up stopping for over 30 mins which meant that my BGL rose more than I would have liked to 12.5mmol/L. I decided not to give myself a bolus dose and after we started the ride back (into a 50km/hr+ headwind) I check my BGL every 15 minutes to make sure that this re-stabilised.

Riding back into such a strong and gusty headwind was really challenging. Obviously I was getting blown all over the road, the effort was high and the speed was slow, and in situations like this you can forget to check your BGLs and it’s easy to forget to eat. We were also responsible for getting the group to the finish line safely which meant constantly checking on how the group was going (not an easy task given the conditions). I was checking my BGLs consistently on the way back ate a sports bar and snickers bar (my treat on long rides) as well as mixing some Gatorade in my drink bottle for some extra carbs. I was able to keep my BGL’s stable on the way back and finished with a reading of 6.5mmol/L. After a quick shower I was able to have a good lunch with carbs (50gr), protein (omelette with extra egg white) and plenty of salad.

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Not perfect but very manageable, two spikes before the start and at the mid-way stop.

Overall the ride was not overly tough even though the wind made the return journey twice as long. From a diabetes point of view, it was a challenging ride having to manage a delayed start, riding with a group, at their pace, and generally not being in control of my own ride. Also having to monitor the group, provide assistance and battle the weather added to extra things to think about. I was able to manage my diabetes without an issue and to achieve this I made a point of doing what I needed to do, when I needed to do it (check BGL, eat and even re-prime my pump).

So some important things which helped me get through this ride:

  • Good organisation the night before the ride including setting insulin plan (basal) and laying out all the food I needed including calculating the nutrition/carb content and having some low carb options
  • Regularly checking BGLs throughout the event including every 15 minutes during critical times and later in the ride when insulin sensitivity increases
  • Making sure that I ate when I needed to which was not necessarily when the group stopped and eating only what I could best estimate the carb content of (no egg, bacon and relish rolls)
  • Letting people know when I needed to stop to re-prime my pump, confirming things were alright and then chasing back on to the group

Even with type 1 diabetes every event is achievable and all that is required is a little extra planning and following the process to maintain stable BGLs and performance.

JDRF One Ride 2017

I am super excited to launch my campaign for the 2017 JDRF One Ride today! This is one of JDRF’s important fundraising events and is held in the Barossa Valley at the beginning of May 2017. I’ve got some big ambitions for my fundraising and participation in the event and I really want to get as much exposure for Type 1 Diabetes and JDRF out into the community.

I have a page dedicated to One Ride Event JDRF One Ride 2017 where I’ll be linking all of my posts and activities to, and my fundraising page can be found here Donate to Type1Athletc One Ride.

Please head over to my JDRF One Ride page for all of the info and please think about getting involved in this fantastic event however you can, your contribution reall does make a difference to the lives of people with type 1 diabetes! Thank you

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Evening Training Highs & Hypos

I have always had a lot of trouble maintaining my BGLs when I am training in the afternoon. No matter how much I lower my basal insulin or how many carbs I consume, I always seem to end up having a sharp BGL drop during the session and if not that, then I end up with stomach issues from eating too much before/during the session. The combination of consuming carbs before/during a 1-1.5hr session and also reducing basal insulin, ultimately leads to a spike in BGLs after the session. Adding all of this up it’s 4hrs of worrying about BGLs every afternoon as I prepare, train and then recover.

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Getting levels stable can be very challenging, trying to balance; insulin, carbs and session duration is all important. Sometimes I do manage to get it close enough right though!

Especially with triathlon training where you need to squeeze in swim, ride and run sessions along with strength and recovery, you need to utilise all available sessions which including afternoons/evenings. With my challenges training in the afternoon I try to plan my sessions to get the most important ones in the morning (run and bike) and do other sessions in the evening (strength, swim plus lighter runs/rides). It takes some effort to get my planning right needing to consider; diabetes (am/pm), session requirements (hard/easy/length), pool availability, recovery time between sessions, weather and other personal commitments. Even so, but with a little stress, I manage to get 15 hours of training in most weeks.

So even though it’s a real challenge, I prepare myself most afternoons to head out and complete a training session know full well that there’s a high chance I’ll have a hypo. Recently I have had some success, my BGLs have been fairly stable and I’ve been able to complete some really good afternoon running sessions. The things which I am doing at the moment to give myself the best chance to complete these sessions include:

  • Reduce basal insulin 2 hours before training session and maintain reduced basal for first half of session. I need to reduce my basal rate by 70% for swimming and running session, and 50% for bike sessions in the afternoon. I do not require a reduction for strength sessions.
  • I do not start my session until after 2 hours post reducing my basal insulin rate to ensure that insulin levels in my system are reduced.
  • I try to start my sessions with BGLs around 10.0 mmol/l knowing that they will drop within the first 15 minutes
  • Consume between 20 and 40 grams of carbs about 30 minutes before the start of the session. This will usually be a supplement like Endura Optimizer or Hammer Recoverite mixed with water. I find that I respond well to these carb sources and they do no upset my stomach.
  • During a 1 hour session I will consume 25 grams of carbs at around the 30 minutes and this is usually a sports gel. It is important that whatever I consume does not upset my stomach and I also need to be able to carry it when running. When swimming or riding liquid carb sources are also an option.
  • I check my levels every 15 minutes during the session to make sure my levels are tracking OK and I can adjust things if needed. This does seem like a lot of testing but my levels are drop very quickly and when  you are covering a kilometre in around 4 minutes it can be a long walk home if you’ve missed a hypo!
  • I plan my sessions so that if something does go wrong, most likely a hypo and needing to walk back to the start, I am not too far away. A 20 minute loop is a good option and also provide for keeping provisions in your car for easy access.

I really work hard to get the most out of all of my training sessions and I do get upset when things don’t go to plan. I try to not let these incidents get to me but when you are trying your best and things still go wrong it is challenging to remain positive. Nevertheless, after many many incidents I continue to train and continue to work to get my diabetes management as close to perfect as possible. I know from experience that this will never be possible but the most important thing is to continue to strive to be better and in the end be healthy. Two afternoon run sessions week, one successful and one included a 20 minute walk back to the car in the rain, luckily I’m running first thing in the morning tomorrow!

What I learnt without my Insulin Pump

Friday morning after my run and swim session I was settling down for a big breakfast at my regular café when my insulin pump started vibrating. This was unexpected as my levels were good and the pump had been functioning fine up to this point, the vibration was also different to the standard pump warnings. Checking the pump and the screen read “SLEEP ERROR, CONTACT SERVICE”, the vibration had also changed to a consistent thump and the pump did not sound healthy. With that, and with perfect timing, my carbohydrate loaded breakfast arrived and I realised that I wouldn’t be eating it and my morning would now be a rush to get flex-pens to dose my insulin.

The Friday timing was particularly bad as well because the weekend would delay the delivery of a replacement pump until Monday which meant up to 4 days off the pump and back to short/long acting insulin injections to manage my diabetes. The pump supplier provided a fantastic service when I contacted them and although we were able to try a number of things to rectify the pumps issues, we were ultimately unsuccessful.

Having had T1D for over 20 years and only being on the pump for the last 2 years, I was pretty confident that I would be able to manage things over the weekend with short and long acting insulin (flex-pens). Annoyingly I didn’t have any long acting insulin left or an old script, so I needed to go to the doctors to get this sorted ($$$). When collecting my insulin, the pharmacist asked if I knew what my dosage was; sure, and if not then I’ll just figure it out. I did think that I had this under control but would find out that T1D isn’t easy to manage, control cannot be taken for granted and poor control has a significant impact on your daily well being.

Flex Pen

Back using flex-pens and there was a few funny looks when “shooting up” in the peloton

 

 

Over the subsequent four days until my new pump arrive I managed my levels fairly well with the short and long acting insulin but I did tend to run high and had some fairly uncontrollable hypo’s. I am a control freak when it comes to me levels and I really missed the fine control that you can achieve using a pump. Two long acting insulin doses over 24hrs didn’t seem to keep me stable and I was regularly giving adjustment short acting doses, all the time nervous that I would have a hypo by over-dosing. My sleep was affected, I wasn’t able to exercise very much and my eating patterns where all over the place as I tried to get my levels, doses and carbohydrates matched. By Monday morning I felt like I had been on a massive bender for the weekend and I had a huge hangover to now deal with. A few people commented about this at work from the way I was looking but then couldn’t understand it as I don’t really drink!? Feeling as I did I was in no mood to respond.

So nearly four days off my insulin pump and upon reflection this is what I have learnt.

  • Insulin dosing is serious business and no matter how long you have had T1D for you must be cautious when changing your insulin doses
  • It’s important to let others know what’s going on and how they can help you; hypo’s, feeling sick and changing your routine all need the support of those around you
  • There are serious risks with T1D and in situations like this you shouldn’t push yourself; as much as it pained me, going on a 100km ride and being hours from home would not have been smart
  • I have gained a real appreciation for newly diagnosed T1D’s, I was taking an educated guess with my insulin doses and there was some fear each time, especially at night, about what the result would be
  • When things are not going right (high/low BGLs, not feeling well) it’s important to try to continue to do things that energise you, even if these are only small. I managed to get out for a ride with my Dad on Saturday and although I felt average it did make me feel a little better and remain positive
  • It is really important to try to remain positive even when it seems like you just can’t make things work. For me, my mental state particularly negative, has a significant impact on my BGLs making any bad situation even worse

On Monday afternoon I was reconnected to my pump and after a better nights sleep I was feeling 100 times better on Tuesday morning. Without doubt I am now truly amazed at how great my insulin pump is and how much it helps me manage my T1D. It’s certainly not perfect and I am still looking forward to future developments, but it allows my levels to remain stable and for me to be as active as I want to be every day. I am also happy that my regular donations to JDRF contribute a small part to their pump program which provides the opportunity for more T1Ds to get access to an insulin pump.

Learning to Run

After my last Ironman race in June I took a couple of weeks completely away from any training and enjoyed what many would call a “normal” life. I am always active so there was plenty of time spent outdoors with my girlfriend and also plenty of social rides with a focus on coffee and donuts! Being active is such an important part of my life so I’ll always be doing something, but more importantly it forms a really important part of my diabetes management. During this time where I was less active it did have an impact on my diabetes and I did have to increase my insulin doses to account for this and monitor things a lot more closely to ensure my levels stayed stable.

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There are only so many coffee shops you can ride to until you realise that you need a new goal and new challenge. For me, the triathlon season was a long way off and I needed a local event to train for between now and then (later in the year). The Melbourne Marathon is in October so the timing was good and I knew when I started thinking about racing the marathon and it made me a little nervous that it was a great challenge and goal. With running being the weakest of my triathlon disciplines, and understanding the physical toll which long run training takes on my body, this was going to be serious!

So back to some more structure training sessions and back to the same old diabetes issues; getting BGLs right for training, being able to get enough fuel and recovery food in and managing stress levels trying to get all of this right. A real positive from my break was that I have learnt to stress a little less about my BGLs when I am exercising and allow things to stabilise more steadily while continuing with my activity. Although erratic levels do hamper performance, you can work through them calmly and sensibly.

So to some of those challenges which I am looking forward to overcoming:

Physical challenges of running

  • Running is hard; no question about this
  • Extra stresses on the lower body from the high impact resulting is many combinations of muscle, tendon and joint soreness
  • Managing inflammation which can be one of the complications of diabetes; I usually require double the recovery time from any soft tissue injury than a non-T1D
  • There are no free kilometres like when cycling, you have “run” every kilometre and there a plenty of those

Diabetes challenges of running

  • For me, running has the biggest pull-down effect on my BGLs and this can occur very quickly
  • The need to keep BGL stable for 1.5 to 3hr sessions
  • Eating while running which is especially important for runs over 1hr and during afternoon/evening sessions
  • Carrying everything that I “may” need; BGL tester (Freestyle Libre at the moment), insulin pump, food (usually 2 x gels – approx.. 50gr carbs), phone and credit card/money (for emergencies)

I have had many annoying experiences when running due to my diabetes all of which have involved a hypo and then trying to get home; walking in the rain, taxi/uber, public transport without a ticket and even getting a dink from a cyclist. All of these are even more enjoyable at 5:30am in the morning or when I’ve heading into some remote location! Never-the-less I continue to head-off and challenge myself, and then have plenty of time to reassess when I am walking home (take 4-5 minutes to run a kilometre and 10-12 minutes to walk).

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My expressionless running face: not thinking about the pain, just ticking off the kilometres

Through social media and the great promotion which T1Ds are doing I have been able to meet some great people and new running buddies. From a performance perspective training with people at a similar level is great and being able to train with people at a higher level provide some fantastic benefits and improvements. Not only that, but training with people who also have and understand T1D is a new and enlightening experience. I recently had my first stop mid-session to allow my training partner to check their BGL and then have something to eat because they were trending low. Something that I do all the time but have never seen it form the other person point of view.

As my running has progressed I am enjoying it and feeling good when running. As expected my legs are feeling the sting after my longer runs and I’m having to put a lot of work in to strengthen and maintain good feeling in my legs. This is definitely a work in progress and I’ve got to watch that I don’t push things to hard and cause an injury. I’m lucky to have some great people to help me and bounce ideas off including Shaun Forrest (Elite marathoner and T1D). Unfortunately, there are some realities of running; it’s hard and there’s not cheating the kilometres! Fun times to come.

Diabetes Sports Project

When I started this blog it was my first real look into the type 1 diabetes community. Although I had been a T1D for over 20 years, like many T1Ds I’d just gone about managing my diabetes on my own and was not interested in reaching out or promoting my diabetes. In 2014 when I got serious about my athletic performance and started researching how to get the best out of myself I found that there was a real lack of resources available for T1Ds on this topic. I started Type1Athletic as a means to note down everything that I was learning through my research and subsequent trials (and errors), and I found many fantastic people, groups and organisations who were trying to do the same thing. This was a really positive experience and helped me in a number of ways.

I came across the Diabetes Sports Project (DSP) when searching the web one day and I instantly felt like I was looking at what I wanted Type1Athletic to be in the future. Through similar experiences to my own and in achieving some amazing race results with T1D the co-founders of DSP, Casey Bowen and Eric Trozer, were showing that having T1D was no hurdle to achieving sporting success. I was not only impressed by the quality of the athletes who were part of the DSP team but also the fantastic public awareness and education that they were doing in America. Working with children and the broader community, and also getting support from some significant companies they were really making a difference for the diabetes community. I felt an instant affinity with the group and contacted them immediately.

DiabetesSportsProject

DSP is led by a group of world class athletes who thrive with diabetes, their stories, athletic accomplishments and community outreach empower other to live healthy, responsible and active lives.

It is truly fantastic when you meet people who have shared very similar experiences and are working towards similar goals as you are. My contact with everyone at DSP has been really positive and I have been introduced to other inspiring T1D athletes from around the world. With technology making it easy to communicate with others across the globe and getting instant updates through social media, being involved in a global network of like minded individuals is nothing but positive.

In July 2016 DSP launched their “Champions” who are everyday T1Ds doing amazing things in their chosen sports and whose stories will provide further inspiration to all T1Ds to not let T1D stop them from achieving their best. I am proud to have been chosen as a DSP Champion and I hope that my experiences can educate and inspire people. Being involved with DSP does not change my attitude to my sport or how I live my life, but I get great motivation from knowing that I might be inspiring someone to achieve their own goals and that others can learn from my experiences. Through the challenges that I have faced I know that it would have been a lot easier if there had been a resources like DSP available to me when I was struggling.

Champions

Diabetes Champions – Stories to educate and inspire

Although DSP is based in America they provide a fantastic resource for all T1Ds worldwide and I highly recommend visiting their website, facebook page and following them through social media on instagram and twitter. I guarantee that having a network of T1Ds will provide you with the information, support and motivation you need to achieve your best.

Diabetes Sports Project: www.diabetessportsproject.com

The Diabetic Athlete

I was lucky to catch up with one of the fastest marathoners in the Australia yesterday, Shawn Forrest, who is also a Type 1 Diabetic. Shawn’s been running all of his life and as a professional athlete has a wealth of experience and knowledge about competing at the highest level which I just love learning about. He’s only been a T1D since 2014 so I might have also been able to provide the same to him with my lifetime of diabetes experience.

I get so much from speaking with similarly experienced and focused people with T1D and I walk away from these meetings feeling enthused with new knowledge and with a little weight lifted off my shoulders knowing that someone else is going through the exact same experiences and feelings as I am.We are not along!

One of the topics which we spoke about was an athletes mindset and how having T1D can change this. I told Shawn about my experiences through the end of 2015 and early 2016 where I suffered from crashes, injuries, fatigue and ultimately depression. During that time I was so focused on the results that I stopped enjoying what I was doing, didn’t celebrate any achievements and had such a poor mindset that my performances suffered. Once I was able to acknowledge and reconcile this everything including my performances improved. The results are certainly important,  but so is the journey and also the bigger picture and enjoyment. On a much bigger stage Shawn had been working to qualify for the Olympic Games for a number of years in the marathon and there were untold pressures on him to achieve this, and then he was also diagnose with T1D. Listening to him I had so much respect for how he continued to push through and achieved some great results through some very challenging times.

The thing that we both agreed on was that having T1D allowed us to have a really positive impact every single day and in every single race through the diabetes community and this often something that we overlooked. There will always be personal goals, but working to promote T1D and inspire other T1Ds to be active, take on challenges and achieve their own goals is super rewarding in itself. This fact alone is great motivation to continue pushing our own limits and finding new challenges. As another T1D positive this is something which many athletes and people generally do not have the benefit of.

I’m looking forward to spending some more time with Shawn and getting my legs run off with a few training sessions with him.

If you don’t know about Shawn he’s a real inspiration for T1Ds and has competed at the top of long distance running around the world for many years. You can follow him on Twitter: @runforrestT1run

My Healthy Diet Refocus

Time off from training is certainly enjoyable but as a type 1 diabetic my diet remains very important to me. Cutting back from 15hrs+ training per week to a few social mountain bike rides and walking the dog is a big change which requires some significant changes to my daily insulin plan (about a 25% increase). To help me manage this big change I have worked hard to keep my diet in check, counted my carbs closely and tried not to over indulge too often (which usually results in some challenging BGL fluctuations).

For me it’s all about eating healthy, getting in all of the macro nutrients that I need and feeling satisfied throughout the day. I usual think about food as fuel and follow a strict plan to eat what I need and also maintain stable BGLs. Fundamentally I still follow this approach as it is healthy, I feel good and allows me to easily track carbs and insulin requirements. I also keep to eating at regular times during the day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and ensuring that my main meals are substantial and include all of my nutritionally requirements.

I have generally broken each of my meals down to the following:

  1. Protein – lean protein (100grams per meal)
  2. Carbohydrate – Unprocessed and low GI
  3. Fibre – Leafy vegetables which should also be used to fill you up
  4. Fat – healthy fats (only a small amount each meal)

As a rule of thumb I also vary my sources of each component with each meal and throughout the week; that is to not eating the same protein, carbohydrate or fat too many times. I do not count calories but eat a healthy portion of protein and fats with each meal, my carbohydrate intake is relatively low by nutritional standards but this assists with my BGL stability and I load up on fresh vegetables with every meal. Fruit is important but can be high in more High GI carbohydrates so I choose low GI fruits and keep them to two pieces per day.

When you break your meals down into these simple components it is then always easy to put together a healthy meal which ticks all of the boxes. The components are also not complicated making most meal quick to put together (<30mins). I have provided a very simple meal options plan below.

Breakfast

  • Eggs with whole grain toast, tomatoes, spinach and mushroom
  • Rolled oats with berries, seeds/nuts and yoghurt
  • Crumpets, natural peanut butter, low fat cottage cheese and fresh mashed blue berries
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An open steak sandwich cuts the carbs but is full of protein and salad.

Lunch

  • Lentil and vegetable soup
  • Roast chicken or tuna with mixed salad and legumes (chickpeas/kidney beans/four bean mix)
  • Whole grain sandwich or wrap with salad, cheese/avocado and lean meat (turkey/ham/chicken)
  • Vegetable frittata and fruit salad

Dinner

  • Grilled chicken with corn tortillas, avocado and salad
  • Seamed fish with potatoes and vegetables
  • Roasted vegetables with natural yoghurt dressing
  • Tofu/egg and vegetable stir fry with soba noodles
  • BBQ lamb/beef with roast sweet potato and salad/grilled vegetables
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One pot/pan meals are a favourite of mine and roasts are a perfect winter meal!

Snacks

  • Mixed unsalted nuts (30-50grams)
  • Low fat yoghurt with frozen berries (100grams)
  • Fresh fruit (banana, apple, pear, melons, etc)
  • Carrot and celery with hummus dip/natural peanut butter/low fat cottage cheese
  • Rice cakes with low fat cottage cheese, tomato/beetroot

I’ll admit that I keep myself on a pretty tight leash but during my current break from training I have been trying to indulge myself as much as possible. There’s been plenty of ice cream, some hearty winter pub meals and plenty of glasses of red wine. The thing for me though is that through both my diabetes and my years of training I have learnt to enjoy eating healthy and I now choose to eat this way because it really makes me feel great. Eating should be an enjoyable part of our lives, you should choose things that you and your family enjoy eating and you should create dishes that look, taste and smell amazing!