T&D May 9

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, recovery weeks are the best! No pressure, still training and feeling great. After leaving Port Macquarie with some mixed feelings I really tried to focus on the positives from the race (which there were many) and identify a few items which I can improve on. My partner said “no training and only positive thoughts until Wednesday, then you can get back to training and focusing on those improvements”. Good advice to follow with the benefits of a positive mindset and enjoying your achievements all too important as I now know.

Happy

Positive attitude, now always smiling – training buddy Mate & I living it up before the Port Mac 70.3 start

So being a recovery week my diabetes hasn’t been much of a highlight. I continue to monitor things closely and have noted a few adjustments which I will make this week for my morning training sessions to keep my BGL stable. I have reaffirmed this week how important my regular daily schedule and consistent meals are to my BGLs. Having fine tuned everything, even small changes can blow my BGLs out. It’s really important for me to understand my basal rate, previous bolus dose, time of day, what I am eating and what I am doing to keep my BGLs stable and give a correct insulin dose. No cheats here unfortunately.

I know that I am very hard on myself and I don’t like to accept anything but my best performance. Working on keeping a positive attitude I made a conscious effort this week to acknowledge the great achievement which my Port Macquarie race was. Excluding the hypo near the end of the race (costing me 10mins), the performance would have been amazing considering only 6 weeks ago I was too physically and mentally fatigued to train or even function normally. I see now how important it is to enjoy all of your achievements and focus on the positives which bring untold benefits to the rest of you life (including diabetes). It’s so simple and it is repeated in nearly all performance articles which I have read. Why I have neglected this aspect for so long now seems a little silly.

So my take away message this week is all about being positive and enjoying your achievements. Being a T1D and being active is so beneficial for you, training everyday with your mates makes you feel great, and racing with the support of family and friends is a really positive experience. There’s not a lot there to be negative about! I also find that my attitude and how I am feeling influences by BGLs. Having that positive attitude and being happy does seem to align with when my BGLs are very stable, and vice versa.

Feeling great, now for a big 4-week block of training before Ironman Cairns 70.3 in early June (and then a short holiday).

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T&D April 10

After a couple of good weeks this past week was particularly challenging. Probably due my increasing volume of aerobic training I have suffered multiple hypos nearly every day and night this past week. Affecting my sleep, my training and just generally functioning each day made my week very frustrating. I have ended up reducing my basal insulin rate by nearly 10% and seen positive results though it is always very difficult making large changes like this and trying to figure out why things are happening.

This week has also been mentally tough with my BGLs causing havoc with my sleep and training. With the importance of these two elements to my life having them both not going well really stressed me out and I was struggling to keep myself positive throughout the week. I am lucky that I have a really supportive girlfriend and training partner who really help me keep my head in the game. In the end I was able to get a great weekend of training in (8hrs+) and I am feeling much better and coming into this next week with a great attitude.

Alex & Inge

Being honest and getting support from those around you is so valuable as a T1D and an athlete. Just doing what you can and enjoying it is so important. 

The challenges of this week have made me focus on a couple of the basic treatment and mental aspects of dealing with diabetes.

Make Small Adjustments & Monitor: Having multiple hypos during the day and night early in the week I had to adjust my basal rate to stop these. I am also nervous about reducing my insulin for fear of going high so I generally on my small reductions and then monitor how this goes. It is also important to only change one element so that you can more easily review if this works. By this I mean not changing your basal rate and also you bolus doses because you will not be able to determine which change worked or didn’t work. In the end it took me 5 days of adjusting and monitoring to get things stable again.

Do What You Can: Have these hypo issues made trying to train very difficult. I experienced either a hypo of high BGL with every session that I did Monday to Friday with the adjustments that I was making to my insulin rates. These incidents were both from the changes and also from second guessing what was going to happen as I had lost my consistency. Trying not to stress I did what I could and then adjusted the remainder of my sessions to accommodate by BGLs. This included a hard ride turning into an easy ride, walking and stretching instead of running and doing extra strength work when my swim session was cut short by a hypo. Although I was still frustrated these session were still beneficial and with a solid weekend it ended up being a good week of training.

Be Honest: I have generally kept my diabetes and its issues to myself which cause greater stress because the people around me don’t understand why I am acting funny. I made an effort this week to be open and honest with my training buddy so that when things went wrong it wouldn’t be a big deal. It is amazing how much easier it is when you are supported by others around you which instantly reduces your stress. No need to feel weakness because of diabetes issues, they are what they are and you need to work with/around them.

Although I am steadily building my weekly training volume and intensity I am conscious not to push too hard and overdo it. Ensuring that I get adequate rest including taking some days off is really important at this stage so that I can continue my progress towards Port Macquarie. Feeling energised, motivated and excited to continue to build my training!

Diabetes Maketh The Man

I have had type 1 diabetes for just over 20 years which is two-thirds of my life. That being the case having T1D has had a profound influence on my life and on the person which I have become. Not long ago I meet with a sports doctor who asked me what I wanted to achieve out of seeing him and what I would change about myself if I could change anything. I said that I wanted to generally be better so that I could achieve my goals and personal bests. He responded by pointing out that I obviously would want to get rid of diabetes as that would make things a lot easier. Funnily enough, I didn’t even think about my diabetes and when I thought about it after the appointment I realised that I didn’t actually immediately wish to be rid of T1D as it has really made me the person that I am.

Although T1D can be a big challenge and there are plenty of moments where I wish that I wasn’t a T1D, it’s hard to imagine where I would be and what I would be doing if I didn’t have the condition. In 20 years T1D has never stopped me from doing anything with all aspects of the condition being manageable. In many instances I believe that having T1D has actually benefited me through better thought and planning about events, taking a greater interest in my health and wellbeing and having a very sound knowledge of my own body.

20160320_092538

Hi, I’m Alex and I am a Type 1 Diabetic. Out on a solo training riding in the middle of no where. 

Considering my life with T1D I have come up with some of the positives influences and traits which I believe the condition has given me and which have helped me in other parts of my life.

Planning: With T1D life needs to be planed and when trying to work full-time and also train 15hrs per week that planning goes to the next level. Each week I plan out my training around my work and family commitments and then each day I plan my meals and insulin plan so that my BGLs are right for my training sessions. Planning for these sessions can be up to 12hrs in advance to ensure I have eaten and have the correct BGLs to train.

Consistency: I believe that consistency is really important for maintaining stable BGLs. I generally wake, sleep, work, train and sleep at similar times each day. My meals are pretty consistent with my carb intake at each meal very consistent. Overall the number of times I test my BGLs and my daily dose of insulin are the same each day. Through this I have a good understanding of where my diabetes should be at each day and I can plan things accordingly around this.

Control: T1D causes a significant shift in the way we approach life, I believe that we need to have serious control of ourselves and what we do otherwise we can face some very serious immediate and also longer term consequences. Even with these serious consequences it’s often difficult to oneself especially around our weakness; chocolate or over exercising are two of mine.

Education and Understanding: T1D is a unique condition where the individual has such control of their treatment (as opposed to a medical professional) and the consequences of poor management can be catastrophic. To be able to do this effectively we need to be well educated on diabetes and have a good understanding of how we individually need to treat the condition. Even more difficult is that every T1D is different and thus need to determine their own methods to manage their condition. For such a serious condition it is amazing to think that the best manage can come from trial and error. This is a serious responsibility and forces all T1D’s to take the time to research and understand the condition and its treatments.

Take Action: I have learnt that assuming things will just sort themselves out usually guarantees that they won’t. BGLs won’t just go up or down by themselves, not eating a proper meal and just snacking is never a good idea and assuming you BGLs are ok and not testing is a big risk. I simply take the actions I need to ensure my diabetes is controlled. I ask for a special meal at an event or take my own food, I stop and test my BGL whenever I need to and I change my plans if things aren’t tracking right. If you don’t look after yourself then nobody else will.

Risk Management: There are certain risks associated with T1D which need to be managed every day. The most serious of these is hypoglycaemia which can strike at any time day or night and the consequences can be very serious. Being very active and not wanting to let T1D stop me from doing anything I always need be thinking about these risks. I must make sure I have all my diabetes items with and sufficient supplies to treat a fuel up and/or treat a hypo. Having an exit strategy is also very important be that being able to contact someone or being able to catch a lift home from a training run if things don’t go right. I have many times had to walk home mid-way through a run when I have been 5km from home and had a bad hypo.

Health and Wellbeing: With the inherent risks and complications associated with T1D keeping healthy is very important to me and it has really become part of my lifestyle. Through T1D have learnt a lot about health and nutrition and as I have become more into endurance racing and Ironman this has become a real focus for me. The active and healthy lifestyle which I have developed holds me in good stead for the rest of my life.

Finish 2

A great achievement crossing Ironman Melbourne finish line in 9hrs 20mins conquering all mental, physical and diabetes challenges!

 

Having type 1 diabetes has definitely influenced my lifestyle, development strengths and attributes. It may be a bit of the chicken before the egg scenario but I do feel that whatever characteristics I may have inherently had have been amplified by living with T1D for the last 20 years. So back to my original thought, do I wish that I never had T1D or could be cured now? There’s clearly not a straight forward answer to this but I would not change having T1D and I really think that having T1D has made be a better person and a stronger athlete. I will still be strongly supporting find a cure as this will certainly make my life easier but I have plenty of other things to working on to continue to improve my performances.

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.

Type 1 Diabetes & Food

As T1D’s we have a very unique relationship with food. I think that it is a love/hate relationship which needs to be finely balanced in our lives to stay both healthy and sane. The biggest challenge is trying to match insulin with the food we want/need to consume as well as the responses from our bodies. Like all of our body’s organs the pancreas does an amazing job in a non-T1D’s but trying to replicate this continues to be a work-in-progress for T1D’s (for 100 years now).

As an endurance athlete food is critically important to my performance and I spend just about as much time planning my diet as I do planning my training. Needing to eat certain foods at certain times isn’t something that goes hand in hand with T1D, and trying to manage BGLs around these requirements is particularly challenging. I try to consume enough carbohydrates to fuel and recover from training effectively whilst also adapting my diet and training to utilise fats as much as possible. Balancing this with protein and also trying to not feel hungry all of the time means that my diet is very structured and aims to tick a lot of boxes.

Veg (1)

Make the most of fresh fruits and vegetable to fill up your meals and provide healthy snacks

I think of food as fuel and look to consume the highest quality food that I can within the constraints which I have learnt allow me to maintain stable BGLs. Low GI, avoid high sugar content, balanced meals, lower carb snacks, etc. is all part of the plan. Achieving this is by no means easy and puts me in stressful situations regularly as I try to make the best choices and battle cravings for foods which are generally not healthy or good for my BGLs. I have survived through 20 years though and I have developed strategies to be able to maintain a healthy diet and also stable BGLs. Here are some of the strategies which I try to implement:

  • Carbohydrates: low GI, know the carb content, read and understand the nutrition labels
    • wholegrains, oats, sweet potato, pumpkin, lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas, quinao, soba noodles, low GI rices, bananas, berries, peaches, reduced fat milk and yoghurt, low GI muesli bars, Sustagen
  • Proteins: lean protein including fish and red meats, eat a variety of protein sources, don’t eat too much (per meal/day)
    • fish, lean red meat cuts, turkey, chicken, yoghurts, eggs, beans and tofu
  • Fats: natural “good” fats, only small quantities and only one fat per meal
    • avocado, roasted nuts, nut butters and eggs
  • Sports Nutrition: use for higher intensity training, combination of Hi-GI & Low-GI carb sources, include some protein to slow BGL rise and consume regular small amounts rather than less frequent large amounts
    • Hammer Bars, Recoverite, Clif Gels & Shot Blocks, Winners Gels, Carmens Bars, banana’s and dried fruit bars
  • Hydration: water is great for lower intensity sessions, use low sugar hydration most frequently or 6% carb mix as energy source to maintain BGLs
    • Water, NUUN Hydration, Endura Low Carb Hydration and Endura Performance
Meal Plan Image

An old meal plan from Ironman training in 2014.

The above meal plan can be view in detail here – Example Meal Plan

When I make a meal I follow a pretty basic method which I have learnt works for me around my training and diabetes. Basic summary and a couple of examples provided below.

Breakfast – 40 to 50 grams of carbs, 25 grams of protein and a little good fat

  • Rolled oats porridge, cinnamon, frozen berries, fat free yoghurt and crushed nuts
  • Poached eggs on toast with spinach, tomato and mushrooms

Lunch/Dinner – 25 grams of protein, 40 to 50 grams of carbs and fill the rest of my plate up with vegetables (low carb).

  • Tuna tin, four bean mix and salad
  • Chicken wrap with humus and salad
  • Steak, baked sweet potato and salad
  • Chicken fajitas with corn on the cob
  • Vietnamese salad with soba noodles and tofu

Snacks – <10 grams of carbs and 10-20 grams of protein

  • Fruits (apples, pears, kiwi fruit, bananas)
  • Carrots/Celery with humus/peanut butter/cottage cheese
  • Fat free yoghurt with berries/nuts
  • Almond/cashew/walnut mix
  • Low carb protein bar or shake
  • Boiled egg with dukkuh seasoning

A meal plan always sounds fantastic but the reality we all have our vices, I’ve actually got a real sweet tooth and am a chocolate lover. I try to follow my strategies for most of the time but do stray and when I do I just enjoy it for that moment and then get back on track (e.g. Easter).

*The author is not supported by any of the companies or products noted in this piece and has chosen these products based only on the authors own experience with these products.

**The author is not a dietician or nutritionist and the information provided is from the author’s experience only. See disclaimer.

T&D Mar 6

Another full week off training and although my body has really enjoyed the recovery my mind has been itching to get back into it. Unfortunately I picked up a bug late last week and struggled to get over it but this just added further importance to my resting.

Without a focus on training my diabetes challenges have been a little different this week. Trying to maintain stable BGLs whilst sick is always difficult and days spent in bed or on the couch change things significantly. I also attended a friend’s wedding over the weekend and this type of event always needs some careful thought to keep my BGLs in check. Having got through the week relatively unscathed I’m happy to provide some tips on how I did it.

Tips for managing diabetes and illness

  • Test your BGL more frequently when sick so that you can catch highs and low earlier and react quicker with smaller insulin adjustments.
  • Allow your BGLs to run a little higher when you’re sick as this is much safer than battling a hypo; I usually aim for 6.0mmol/L when healthy but am happy to sit up to 8.0mmol/L when sick and I don’t stress about it.
  • Get on the vitamins as soon as you feel sick, my favourites are vitamin C or a cold/flu blends from my local health store. An increase in fresh fruits and vegetables is also important.
  • Rest, rest and more rest. You’ve got to let our body put all its energy into recovering and remember that fluctuating BGLs will make it harder for your body to do this.
  • Remember to eat, your body needs energy to fight the illness so don’t skimp on meals in a effort to keep BGL’s in check.

Tips of managing diabetes at functions

  • Organise a proper meal and try to eat it at your regular meal time. The wedding I attended had a grazing menu spread over 4 hours which is not ideal for insulin dosing. We asked for a plate of food at around dinner time and this allowed me to eat and give a single insulin dose.
  • Remember that beer and wines have carbohydrates in them, a single beer or glass of wine can have between 10-15 grams of carbohydrate which can quickly add up over an evening. Having several drinks will require some insulin to cover these carbohydrates.
  • Remember that there’s always an extravagant desert and wedding cake so if you’re going to indulge then allow for this in you insulin plan, it can be a really good or really bad way to end the night!

I’m back into training this week and I super excited! I’m still a little nervous about pushing my body too hard so I am going to take a very cautious approach to my training over the next 6-8 weeks. A strength and condition component will form a big part of my upcoming training block with my swim/bike/run session around this. For each of these my swim session will focus on feel in the water, bike sessions to build cardio and endurance and my run sessions will be focussed on technique all in an effort to support a strong base for me to sustain.

**Consult your diabetes physician before making any changes to your diabetes management. Refer disclaimer.

T&D Feb 28

It’s been a big week for all of the wrong reasons at this time of the triathlon (The Physical Impact of Mental Stress). to quickly summarise I’m taking a couple of weeks off to recovery from some pretty bad fatigue which has plagued me for the past 6 weeks. Apart from when I’ve been recovering from injury, I can’t remember the last time I’ve done such little physical activity in a week. Amazingly I’m not stressed about it and I actually haven’t had any urge to get out and train. I also feel great.

Without training there have been some minor adjustments to my diabetes management to account for the lower activity levels and fewer carbs. I have been really focussing on my diet for the purposes of maximising my recovery and this has also helped keep my BGLs really stable. I have kept away from processed foods and sugars, and stuck to what I know works for me; low GI carbs, fresh fruit and vegetables and lean protein. Balanced meals of around 40-50 grams of carbs, 25 grams of protein and a plate full of vegetables. It’s pretty straight forward and cutting out the snacks has allowed my BGLs to stay really stable. Fantastic!

Without training and the need to be constantly checking my BGLs I have not used my CGM for the past two weeks. This has been refreshing and I am checking my BGLs (finger prick test) much less frequently (probably still 10+ times per day but that’s a 50% reduction for me). I have found this change of focus for me to be really refreshing and I would recommend to everyone to take advantage of a full recovery period and change things up. The positive response both mentally and physically are almost instantaneous and I know that when I do return to training I will be able to put 100% into it.

The Physical Impact of Mental Stress

Mental health issues are frequently being addressed in the media and it has become evident that any mental health issue needs to be addressed with the same importance as any medical condition. I have always thought that I can the handle life’s mental stresses. I think that I have faced a few of them in my time and I have never really felt these stresses have affected me physically. Throughout my athletic career I have always had the ability to push myself mentally harder and further, and I believe that this has been a competitive edge which I have had. The tougher the event, the better I have performed. This being the case I have always focussed on getting physically 100% to compete at my best and just assumed that mentally I would be able to cope with whatever the event throws at me.

For the last 6 weeks I have been really struggling physically to get through training and even daily life. I have felt a real whole body fatigue. I have worked through all of the obvious triggers for this fatigue including; a lack of sleep, missing recovery sessions, poor nutrition and even dehydration. After ticking these off, a review with my doctor and a suite of blood tests, further results also revealed very little anomalies. Further assessment of my bike fit and running technique still left me questioning what had changed with me physically and why I was feeling so average for this prolonged period.

It was during breakfast with my girlfriend that I realised I may be suffering from the effects of cumulative mental stress which had built up over a prolonged period of time, likely since my broken collar bone 4 months ago. She asked me how I was feeling and I just looked at her sullenly and responded “average”. She then asked why and I first thought ‘stupid question’, but then reeled off everything that was on my mind; feeling fatigued, can’t train properly, goals slipping away, shoulder not 100% from surgery, lower body constantly sore, diabetes up and down, CGM not working properly, worried about what I’m eating, worried about my power to weight, trying to organise a new work car, trying to win contracts at work, dealing with local council re. neighbouring development, talking about future property investments, reassessing financial investments, reviewing home mortgage, bills-bills-bills, talking about starting a family, trying to support partners business and work, and trying to be a good boyfriend. Phew, “remember to breathe” she said.

Wow, that’s a lot of stuff to process and thinking about it more there were other indicators that showed my mental state may have been affecting me more than I realised. Some of these included having difficulty sleeping, losing concentration and focus on important tasks, lack of motivation for things that I normally love doing and generally being in a poor mood. I had dismissed these symptoms whenever they had occurred for any number of different reasons but when you put it all together there was a good possibility that my mental state was contributing to my poor physical condition. I was trying to sort out several things which will have significant influence on the rest of my life whilst also trying to train 15hrs per week, manage my diabetes and living my daily life may have been too much. I have been pushing my body to get back to 100% since breaking my collar bone in October and this was obviously at great physical stress. As the personal issues built up and I tried to assess and resolve these my mind was constantly working, even when I was trying to sleep. Thinking that I could just handle this I continued to train and continued to work through the various items at the expense of my physical and mental wellbeing all the time by myself without seeking any support. 6 weeks ago it all became too much and my body said ‘NO!’. I fell into a heap and was unable to push through any more.

Although it took me 6 weeks to figure this out, now completely stopping and taking a step back, I have immediately started feeling better. I have spoken openly with my girlfriend and just letting someone else in has made an amazing difference. I know now that I was physically wrecked and since stopping I actually haven’t wanted to do any training, I know that doing nothing is the best for my body and I am enjoying it. Mental, talking through the other issues has shown that these may not be as significant as they are in my head.

So what am I doing now? Stresses are part of life and they can all be managed with the support which I have. Being open and honest with myself and those closest to me has been a hugely rewarding first step. Things are certainly not as overwhelming as they may have seemed. In terms of my physical condition I am taking a couple of weeks off. No training at all, no thinking about training, just resting and enjoying time recuperating. Then I’m going to follow a really steady structured program to get my body right for racing which will include more functional strength work and then building for my races. I am also not going to put pressure on myself to be at a certain level too quickly, I have raced many times before being under done and I have performed really well in these instances.

Being in the middle of the season and at a very important time for my 2016 goals is not ideal but continuing the way that I was would have ended up in disaster both physically and mentally. I am amazed how great the physical impact has been from the mental stress. I have always focussed on the physical side of training but from this experience I understand that listening to your whole mind, body and immediate environment is vitally important to achieve your best.

**I am not a health professional and the comments made in this post are from my own personal experience only. Help can be found at Beyond Blue. See disclaimer.

T&D Feb 21

A benefit of doing these weekly reviews is that it has really made me think about my progress from week to week. For the last few weeks my post have had a similar feel; feeling average, feeling good, feeling up, feeling down, just struggling to get on top of little niggles. Being in the middle of the triathlon season and trying to build up to my most important races this is not a great way to feel. Considering this I’ve made the decision to restructure my training plan to hopefully allow me to get my body back in good condition for the remainder of the season and my A-races.

Through many consultations with various sports physicians I believe that my physical issues have developed through a lack of strength and my body not being able to cope with the training loads. As disappointing as this is you often have to step sideways to continue moving forwards. My new program will introduce 2-3 strength sessions per week for the immediate future and reduce the volume/intensity of my “on-the-track” sessions. I hope this change will reap benefits both physically and mentally.

As a type 1 diabetic athlete I focus a lot on the impact of my diabetes on my performance but as an athlete my physical and mental condition remains just as important and requires the same focus as my diabetes. Formalising a plan to get through this next period has been a very positive experience for me and I’ve learnt a lot this past week.

  • If you continue to do the same thing then you’ll get the same result; the consistent ups and downs of the past month are testament to this, trying to push through is sometimes not the best approach and you’ve got to change what you are doing to achieve a better result
  • Your training needs to be holistic; to be a complete athlete you have got to put time into all aspects of your training including “on-the-track”, strength, recovery, nutrition and mental aspects (not to mention diabetes)
  • Sticking to your diabetes management plan really works; since I have put a greater focus on getting my body right my diabetes management has taken a back seat. I certainly haven’t ignored it but I have just stuck to my management plan, eating the correct portions and not stressed about my BGLs. Low and behold things have run really smoothly and my BGLs have been very consistent.

T&amp;D Feb 21

With such a big shift in my training program and mental approach, I am feeling really positive about the coming period. My training load last week was reasonable and I am happy with the endurance load consistency I achieved. This coming week will include:

  • Commence working with strength trainer focussing on rehab and functional strength including my right shoulder (broken collar bone)
  • Continue Z2 endurance work “on-the-track” with greater focus on pre-session activation exercises and post-session recovery
  • Get my nutrition back on track 100%; with the stresses of the previous weeks I’ve been sneaking in a few too many treats!

I have made contact with several local diabetic athletes and have wanted to catch-up with them recently but things always come up and organising a suitable time has been difficult. I really want to meet up them, have a good chat and hopefully learn a few things from each other’s experiences.

Diabetes & Sports Nutrition

As an athlete and a type 1 diabetic nutrition forms a very important part of my life. In terms of sports nutrition I have to think as an athlete first and then as a diabetic to ensure I am fuelling my body adequately. This is easier said than done and trying to get in all the nutrition that an endurance athlete needs whilst also trying to get insulin doses right and manage blood glucose levels (BGLs) is very challenging. Maintaining stable BGLs is critical for me to be able to train/race effectively and also get all of the nutrition in which my body requires for recovery, fuel and everyday life.

The amount of carbohydrates (CHO), protein and fats required by athletes is pretty well understood along with the timing of nutrient intake around training, recovery and racing. Although there are many diet variations and everybody (especially diabetics) has a different approach, I require an amount of CHO in my diet. As CHO consumption directly relates to insulin requirements I do manage the amount of CHO I consume so that I do not need too higher dose of insulin which would increase my risk of hypoglycaemia. This is by no means a LCHF diet that I follow but I would be consuming on average only 300 grams of CHO daily as oppose to the 500 grams plus which may be recommended by sports dieticians for someone training as much as I do.

I find that the biggest challenge nutritionally as a T1D is that you cannot just eat whenever you want and everything needs to be specifically planned for including timing of meals and snacks, timing of training, BGLs and insulin doses (insulin on board). This planning can be 2hrs before a session or 12hrs before a race and the impact of poor BGL control can last for 24hrs as the body recovers from high BGLs or missed fuelling. It goes without saying that keeping BGLs stable and within a good range it critically import to achieving your best athletic performance. My focus and often stress is on this point in particular but I have figure out how I can best manage all of these aspects and get it right, most of the time.

Some things that I try to maintain from a nutritional point of view include:

  • Consume majority of CHO before, during and after (around) training sessions as this is when less insulin is required to process CHO due to the physical activity and I am still able to fuel my body
  • Eat my main meals within 1 hour of training sessions to avoid having to have a post session snack (with insulin) and then another meal (with more insulin) within a short time. This meal timing also always me to get sufficient recovery nutrition in and reduce the hypo risk.
  • Consume low CHO snacks between meals which do not require additional insulin doses (this is along the lines a low carb high fat diet with a focus on protein and good fats)
  • Maintain a low GI diet which I find assists with keeping BGLs stable. This generally involves including low GI CHO in my meals and also adding protein to assist with BGL stability
  • Understand everything that I eat and matching my insulin doses accordingly – how much CHO, how much protein and what type of fat
  • I generally do not have more than 50 grams of CHO in a single meal as any greater than this increases my insulin dose to a level that I find creates BGL instability
  • I always have two hydration sources with me when I train – one is a 6% CHO mix and the other is a no sugar mix so that I can choose which one I consume based on my BGLs and also maintain adequate hydration
  • During race’s I generally consume about 30-50 grams of CHO per hour and include some protein to assist with slowing the processing/glucose release. This can both be from solid food s and liquids. As the duration of an event extends I am able to consume more CHO per hour.

These points are easy to put down on paper but definitely not easy to get right every day. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that type 1 diabetes is difficult but if you put in the effort you can achieve great results.

**All information in this post is from the authors own experience and does not represent professional medical advice. Please refer to disclaimer.