T&D May 29

If you follow my instagram feed then you would have seen that the last 7 days have been big! I had planned a really testing week of training with a focus on running and from Sunday through Sunday I clocked up just short of 90km which is pretty significant for someone with a swimming and cycling background. With this sort of form I can actually say that I enjoy running (at the moment). I also received a new BGL unit from Abbott; the FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System. This continuous monitoring device has some unique differences to Dexcom CGM, which suit my uses really well. I am excited to continuing using this device, especially in my upcoming Ironman 70.3 event where I think that it will able to provide me with the edge I have been missing in previous events this year.

May 29

The numbers don’t lie, it’s been a really solid week!

It’s also been a big week as I have been able to get control of my BGLs during my afternoon training sessions where hypo’s had been causing me issues. Some adjustments to the timing of my basal reduction and then when I start my training session (allowing 2hrs+ now), plus eating something a little more substantial about 30mins before the session (30-40gr CHO) has yield more stable BGLs. I am still working on how much CHO I need to consume during the session and this is highly dependent on the duration and intensity of the session. So far it’s around 30gr CHO at 20-30mins into the session get’s me through a 1hr plus session. A work in progress #type1diabeteslife.

Muffin

One of the bonuses of exercising is being able to enjoy foods that you would usually avoid as a diabetic – post ride refuelling.

I think that I have learnt this week that managing my diabetes shouldn’t be that stressful. I do have challenges to over come and these seem pretty regular, but a lot of these challenges are caused in part due to something that I have done. This could be; not counting carbs correctly, not eating a proper meal and then snacking, not setting my basal/BGLs properly before a training session, under eating or over bolus dosing or over treating a hypo, etc. These are all things that I am 100% in control of and if I do them correctly, then the risks of an erratic BGL response are significantly reduced. It is true that my life requires planning and structure but this should not be a burden and to be healthy and thus happy these are critical. This week I have gotten most things right and the results speak for themselves, success in all aspects of my week and still full of energy on a Sunday evening.

Speaking with another type 1 diabetic over the weekend who is also very active, we seemed to have similar approaches to our type 1 diabetes and this seemed to stem from our attitude towards it. It was not that we both had amazingly positive attitudes, but we both acknowledge that type 1 diabetes needed to be managed in a specific way to allow us to live the lives that we wanted to. Type 1 diabetes wasn’t something that needed to be beaten, it formed an important part of each of use and probably enhanced some strong traits which allowed up to achieve our goals. Structure, planning, better understanding of our bodies and excellent nutrition are just a few of the positives to come out of having type 1 diabetes. I was enthused by this chat to stay focussed and know that by doing the rights things and being positive, great results will come.

 

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T&D May 22

I don’t know if it’s my diabetes or trying to fit in training around the rest of my life but every week seems like a big and challenging week upon reflection. Even with all of the little things that seem to happen in my life (which seems pretty significant at the time) I still manage to have great weeks! This week with work, 15hrs of training, away for the weekend, out on Saturday night, a broken rear wheel mid-ride on Saturday, some high and low BGLs and an irritating reaction to my freshly cleaned local pool it was busy.

Point Lonsdale

Sunday morning recovery ride is the most important of the week for body and soul; Inge, coffees, muffins, selfies and a bit of recovery thrown in for good measure.

We choose to fill our days doing the things that we enjoy, that energise us (maybe apart from working but hopefully there are some positives there to) and the challenges that we face are part of doing these things. I don’t necessarily want to get up at 5am on a Saturday morning but when I’m cresting a hill with Bells Beach to my left and a sunrise warming my back I’ve forgotten about getting up and I’m just looking forward to the next couple of hours of nirvana (for me). Trying to fit everything in is certainly a juggling act but it can be, and is manageable. Priorities and planning is the aim of the game here.

Diabetes does add another dimension to this puzzle with the most difficult part being that diabetes often runs its own course and things happen even when you try your best to control them. My weekend for instance including perfect BGLs during my Saturday morning ride, good BGLs during my afternoon swim, high BGLs in the late afternoon and evening, high BGLs Sunday morning which turned into good BGLs for my ride and then run. I was able to complete my training sessions and enjoy a muffin on Sunday morning but I felt terrible on Saturday night and struggled to enjoy my evening out as I tried to bring my BGLs down. Pretty stressful I think and that’s by no means a bad 48 hours.

Think about this further I think on average 25% of my training sessions would be impacted by my BGL levels to some degree. Be that by a hypo stopping a session early, a high not allowing me to push out a quality session or a combination of BGLs and food making me feel ill. After so many years constantly planning and adjusting things occurs without me really thinking about it but it is very stressful and something which I am working to manage better and remain in a good mindset.

T&D

A planned and altered weekend (Saturday run missing) from a mechanical and BGLs. Overall though it’s been a great week of training!

The lesson which I have learned this week, and over recent weeks probably, is that things don’t need to run perfectly for me to achieve a great end result. This week for example was nearly derailed on a few occasions but from a training perspective turned out to be a really positive week. Even greater than this is possibly 25% of my training being impacted by my diabetes and even with this I continue to improve and perform well. I feel like diabetes is something which we can strongly influence buy never fully control and we need to be open minded to this. The uncontrollable diabetes events should not become the focus points of our day to day existence as even with these events so much is achievable. I will be reminding myself of this next time things don’t go to plan, maybe even today.

T&D May 15

I was struck down with a vicious head cold and sinus bug this week which put my training on the back burner and required a real focus to keep my BGLs within a good range. Illness always makes managing my diabetes a little more challenging and this week required the usual effort to keep my BGLs within a good range. Generally I require 20% more insulin (basal and bolus) when I am sick which may be due to the illness and/or spending most of the day on the couch (which is unusual for me).

In the past I have often gotten really frustrated when I have been ill and thought about what I can’t do, what sick leave I have to take and my BGLs are right. With my recent attitude adjustment I focused this week on what was the best things I could do whilst I was sick. I couldn’t change being sick but I could influence how and when I would recover. So the things which I focused on where:

  • Rest: I know that it is important to rest when I am sick as my body is fatigued from both the illness and also from my higher and more variable BGLs. Although I really struggle to just lay around I know that this is the best thing that I can do to recover. I try to enjoy this time as well as it’s not something that I often so.
  • Nutrition: I take the same approach when I am sick as I do when I am in full training. I eat the highest quality meals to fuel my body to overcome the illness the same as I would do to fuel my body for hard training sessions and recovery. Without have much else to do there’s a opportunity to create some fantastic healthy meals when home sick.
  • Hydration: You can’t underestimate how important adequate hydration is and it’s importance only increases when your body is under stress (training, racing or illness). Hydration is pretty simple; water, hydration formula’s and minimise consumption of caffeine which sadly means fewer coffees.
  • Diabetes: This can be really challenging as you are trying to balance higher BGLs, less activity, increased insulin and high risk of hypo’s. For me, a 20% increase in insulin generally keeps my BGLs under 10mmol/L and although this is higher than I’d like I accept that this is acceptable when sick.

I also try to get outside during the day when I am home sick to get some fresh air, sunshine and a little walk around which all benefit how I am feeling.

T&D May 15

Revised training program with strength component (last 8 weeks)

Recovering after a couple of days of rest I can now focus on getting back into training. The graphic above shows the breakdown of my training over the last 8 weeks since I introduced specific strength and conditioning sessions into my program. This yielded great results at Port Macquairie and I will be continuing with this program. I am pretty happy with the spilt but I may work on a small increase in the run percentage as this is the leg which I really want to improve on.

A challenge for the coming weeks will be getting my BGLs right in the evenings so that I can complete a productive PM session. I have struggled recently to maintain stable BGLs late in the afternoon and then I have been hypo-ing during my evening training sessions. Balancing insulin and CHO for these sessions has been the challenge with a post session high BGL the result if not a hypo during the session. Plenty to work on but we enjoy the challenges don’t we? #T1D

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).

Ironman 70.3 Port Mac Race Report

On Sunday May 1st I completed Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie finishing in a time of 4hrs 34mins, in 10th place in my age. This was a big event for me given 6 months ago I broke my collar bone at the same event and since then I have struggled with fatigue and mental well-being and my last event was a DNF due to diabetes issues. 6 weeks ago I made a big change to my training program and I was anxious to see if this had paid off, and if my diabetes would remain stable throughout the race. In the end I overcame some serious pre-race nerves and diabetes issues during the race to finish with a smile on my face (though nearly in a diabetic coma)!

PMac Race Summary

Ironman 70.3 Race Summary

Leading into the event I was confident that my condition was good enough to post a competitive race time and after not finishing my two previous events I really just wanted to get over the finish line strongly. As the weekend approached I started to get really nervous about the race which I think was a combination of; not finishing previous races, breaking my collar bone at this race 6 months earlier, my diabetes impacting my race as it did in Geelong and really wanting to do well. Although I tried not to put pressure on myself I think that I did the opposite and by Saturday I was so nervous and anxious that my BGLs were out of control and I was heading for a straight-jacket and padded room. Luckily my partner pulled me aside and did an hour of meditation with me. This really helped me relax and if not for her brilliance it would have likely been race over for me before it even started (xoxo).

Come race morning and conditions were perfect. As we were following the Ironman Australia event the 70.3 started a little later than usual at 8am. This later start along with the extra adrenalin from my nerves caused my BGLs to run high from 6am. I cautiously tried to bring my BGL down with small bolus doses (unsuccessfully) but in the end I started the race with a BGL of around 12mmol/L (possibly higher). My BGLs ran between 8.5 and 13.0mmol/L for the swim and bike legs and even with my high basal rates I was not able to consume my planned race nutrition. Leading into the run leg I did have a gel as I really needed the energy boost and this seemed to be OK for the first hour of the run where my BGLs stayed around 10.0mmol/L.

The swim passed without too many issues apart from not feeling great due to high BGL and the course possible being a little longer than normal (Garmin read 2130m). I’m always happy to get through T1, test my BGL and get onto the bike where I feel more in control of things. With plenty of rolling hills on the Port Macquarie course, which favours my cycling strengths, I quickly got into a good rhythm and set off on my way for the single 90km loop.

My main thought during the bike leg was to enjoy the ride and get to the run feeling OK. With the hilly course profile and a couple of sharp climbs I maintained my race power throughout the 90kms and worked steadily up each incline. With the mind set of enjoying it, the 2hr 20mins passed quickly with my only a few body aches from the really rough road surface and not a lot of fuel in the tank due to my higher BGLs. Not trusting my CGM I did a couple of finger prick tests during the ride which proved to be pretty challenging as the road was so rough that it was difficult to hold on, get a drop of blood on the test strip and let the meter process it. I managed to survive though and entered T2 in a good position ready to tackle the 21km run.

Port Mac

My Port Macquarie race photo summary

Really enjoying the race I started the run feeling OK albeit high BGL concerns. Looking at maintaining between 4min and 4:30min per km pace I settled in for 3 laps of the 7ish km course. Running is hard. Running is even harder in a triathlon. The first 15km were hard but enjoyable with plenty of athletes on the course to run with and plenty of spectators to entertain us. My BGLs came down to around 8.0mmol/L during the first 15km and I was able to down some Endura and watermelon at a couple of aid stations.

At around the 17km mark I really started to feel average and totally drained of energy. A quick BGL check revealed a reading of 19.9mmol/L. As I was feeling so average and with only 20 minutes left to run I decided to give myself a small bolus dose which I hoped would bring my BGL down by the end of the race. I continued on but things deteriorated very quickly and with less than 2km to go I was struggling to even walk. Testing my BGL again my level had dropped to 2.7mmol/L. I sucked down a gel and gingerly but determinedly made my way to the finish line. The last 2km of the run took me 14 minutes and when I finally ran under the Ironman banner I could barely stop my watch let alone raise my arms for a finish line photo. I was however absolutely ecstatic to have finished.

Port Macquarie is a fantastic event and I really like the combined Ironman and 70.3 experience. There was so much atmosphere around the whole course that it made for a really enjoyable time throughout no matter how much pain you were in. My training put me in great condition for the event by my mental state and diabetes was not controlled well. This is something that I can work on to get things more stable for my next event. Having gotten through this race I will be feeling a lot calmer next time.

Thanks to my support team for getting me through the weekend and taking some great snaps of me suffering during the race (I did try to smile every time I saw you). Well done to my training buddy and friend who notched up another PB in the event (#seriouslyjealous). I couldn’t have done it without you all. See you next time.

T&D May 1

Race week and I was really nervous. Nervous because I’ve had a good block of training but mainly nervous because I wasn’t confident in having my diabetes 100% under control. With tamper, travel and then racing all happening this was going to be a big week and I really didn’t want to get anything wrong.

I had some real struggles before and during the race and in the end to walk away with 10th place was a great effort. Apart from the massive hypo I had in the last 2km of the run leg I was on track for a great time and result, and I take this as a real positive from the race. After the race I enjoyed as burger with my training buddy Matt (who PB again at the race!) and my family which quickly put everything into perspective. See my race report here.

Port Mac Walk

Post race walk and debrief in the rain at Port Macquarie

I have learnt a couple of really big things this week and I am surprised by what I have learned given that I thought everything was tracking perfectly leading into this race.

  • Your mental state and especially nervous energy, stress and adrenaline have a massive impact on you BGLs. I am usually really relaxed before an event but I was so nervous and anxious that my BGLs were out of control and I struggled to keep them stable over the race weekend. I am now going to work on my mental conditioning leading into a race to ensure this doesn’t happen again this was such a profound experience that I’m going to investigate it further in a future blog piece.
  • Diabetes control is the key to your best performance; taking the time to test your BGL during the race is worth it, that extra 30 seconds to do this won’t cost you a PB but if you don’t then it could cost you your whole race. Even with a CGM I tested my BGL multiple times during the race and although the numbers weren’t what I wanted to see, I did know where I was at.
  • Keep it simple: For both mental and diabetes performance keeping everything as simple as possible makes such a difference. Although I nearly lost my sh#t prior to the race if I didn’t have my race routine, food, bike setup, etc. already sorted then I would have been in a lot more trouble. Even though things didn’t go to plant I was able to ge thtrough the race but following the simple things which I had in place.
  • Don’t forget to enjoy it: I think that I have put too much pressure on myself over the last 6 months and my performances have suffered. During the race I reminded myself to enjoy it and with this mindset I didn’t let my diabetes issues get to me and my performance and times where good. No need to make a tough Ironman event any tougher.

I have six weeks now until my next race at Ironman Cairns 70.3 and with the success of my modified training program I am excited to get another solid 4-week block of training in and head to Carins ready for my best performance. I’ll be working on my mental conditioning and also my diabetes plan until then with the hope that everything comes together for this big race.

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!

T&D April 3

It’s been a busy and tiring week! Thank goodness for the free hour this morning from daylight savings change. I’ve upped the training volume this week and have continued with my strength training, this has left me feeling great both physically and mentally. Apart from some minor discomfort from last weekends rolled ankle I am really looking forward to the next four weeks building towards Port Macquarie Ironman 70.3. Being refreshed physically, mentally and with my diabetes management going really well the positive results of my break are continuing. Upon reflection this week a few basics have been reaffirmed this week and I’ve picked up a disappointing trend on social media.

Strength training, stretching and recovery. Following my adjusted program I have really put a focus on my alternate sessions including strength training, stretching and recovery. After only a couple of weeks I am already noticing an overall improvement in my on-the-track sessions and also my recovery. These often over looked components of any athletes program are just so important and should always be made a priority.

T&D April 3 Image

Solid week of Z2 training including new strength sessions

The importance of exercise in diabetes management. Now that I am back into training I have noticed how much exercise assists in achieving stable BGLs. I find that I have a greater sensitivity to insulin and require lower total daily doses when I am training. Additionally I am able to consume a few extra treats which I would usually avoid and this provides both a boost to my diabetes management and also my mental well-being.

Don’t fight your T1D. I have seen several posts on social media this week from other T1D’s who seem to be trying to beat their T1D into submission. I believe that you need to work with your diabetes to get the best out of yourself and essentially live unaffected. Having had T1D for 20 years I have developed most of my passions and interested with T1D and I have gained so much strength and success from having T1D (see my recent post).

Daylight savings is over so there’ll be a little more sunlight in the morning and there’s no better way to start the day than training with the sun rising on you back.

The Good Pain – Peaks Challenge

I watched this short film this morning and I got that nervous feeling in my stomach just thinking about the pain you get from pushing yourself further than you think possible. Inspiring short film is from the launch Bicycle Network’s Peaks Challenge Series for 2016/17 which comprises three amazing and challenging cycling events in Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland. After watching this I have pencilled these in my diary for 2016/17.

Please Enjoy!

 

T&D March 27

Successfully over the flu and back into a full week of training this past week. After over a month off the motivation and enjoyment getting back into training is fantastic. This has really shown me the importance of taking time off from training as part of your program to allow you mind and body to recover and reenergise. Back on the CGM this weekend and oh what a glorious piece of medical technology this is! So beneficial to understanding how best to control your BGLs and I highly recommend using one from time to time if you can.

After a week of training in Melbourne I headed up to Mount Buller for the Easter Long Weekend. I was looking forward to plenty of mountain biking on the awesome trail network up there but the Saturday morning Easter Fun Run also came onto the agenda late on Friday night. A 9.5km trail run including ascending the summit of Mount Buller was a nice little high altitude challenge (predominately Zone 4 session!!). I was able to keep my BGLs stable for the event but this was a little challenging as we didn’t get started until 9:30am which is a later than I would normally start training in the morning.

Mt Buller Run

Mount Buller Easter Fun Run details, clear to see where the “pinch” comes [lap times, elevation and HR shown].

Having put a real focus on not stressing about my diabetes and BGLs over the past month I am happy to report that even being back into training this week I haven’t let this stress build again. Of course my BGLs need to be stable for me to train but giving myself some allowance around sessions and timing has meant that things have been pretty smooth this week and a lot less stressful. Although this can sometime be difficult I think that it is really important to not stress about BGLs too much and trust that by sticking to your management plan things will remain stable and in control.

I am a little stressed out about the lack of training I have done over the last month with only 5 weeks until my next important race at Port Macquarie Ironman 70.3. I am really working on just trying to enjoy my training and no thinking too much about my performance. I know that if I get my body right for race day and my diabetes stays under control, then the results will happen for me. I want to be happy with the little achievements along the way and know that I have overcome challenges through my hard work. I am often told, don’t forget you are doing this because you love it and it’s meant to be fun!