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

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Getting Through Race Week

The week (or weeks) leading up to a race can be the most difficult of a training program to get right. All of the hard work has been done in the months leading up to this point and no further fitness can be gained this close to an event. The focus now shifts to tapering so that you are in the best possible physical and mental condition for the race. But with nothing to be gained there is much to lost to the detriment of your race day performance. For further information on tampering see advice from Training Peaks.

Getting your taper right is hard enough as you fight your emotions and constantly question if you’ve done enough; will an extra session help, am I losing fitness? Having type 1 diabetes makes these weeks even more challenging as you try to keep your BGLs stable whilst changing pretty much everything that has worked for you during the previous months of training. I find that stable BGLs are the most important factor for me to perform at my best and this is particularly the case leading into and during a race. Some of the major challenges for a T1D during a tapering period can include:

  • Reducing training volume and intensity changes insulin requirements (Basal and Bolus)
  • Carb-loading would require an increase in Bolus insulin doses
  • Changes in activity and sleep patterns can change Basal insulin requirements
  • Physiological adaptations often change insulin requirements
  • Mental and emotional states including stress may introduce unexpected rises and falls in BGLs

Essentially during a taper we are changing what are bodies have been used to (training and eating) and we are stressing about many things (BGLs, race performance, tapering/training, etc.), and this is a high risk cocktail for a T1D trying to maintain stable BGLs.

Trek Speed Concept

I love getting my bike ready for race day, a good opportunity to focus on the details to go fast

So for one of the most important weeks in my training program, that is also one of the most challenging and stressful, what do I do to keep things on track:

  • I don’t have an extended taper prior to a race and keep this to Monday to race day (Sunday) generally (one week).
  • Maintain a similar training schedule; I continue with my morning training sessions as these seem to have the biggest impact on my daily diabetes requirements and drop/alter may afternoon sessions.
  • As with a normal taper I keep some intensity in all of my sessions to remain sharp (neuromuscular) but also to keep BGLs similarly stable to previous weeks with the session excursion.
  • When focusing on recovery I like to complete active recovery sessions which also help stabilise BGLs (through the exercise).
  • I really focus on my diet and try to consume the highest quality nutrient dense foods so that I do not need to increase my carbohydrate intake too much and I still get the full benefits of tampering. By not changing my diet too much it minimises the risk of changes to my insulin requirements and possible hypos/high BGLs.
  • If I do consume more carbs then I monitor this closely and increase my bolus insulin accordingly. In most cases I find it easier to add small amounts of extra carbs throughout the day rather than load up during main meals.
  • Keep track of your BGLs; as important as ever, I keep track of my BGLs constantly throughout the week so that I know exactly where they are at.

Finally, two really important things which I always work on are; control the things that I can, and don’t stress. Things out of my control will happen but if I am on top of everything which I can be then these uncontrollable events will be much easier to manage – control the controllable. It is difficult not to stress during taper week but remember that you have gotten this far, have controlled your diabetes to this point and you are ready to race. I try to stay calm and work through any issues knowing that this will result in the best outcome for me.

basal work

Keeping track of BGLs and planning for race day (BGL, Basal rate and Carbs)

Managing diabetes is never simple but by really focussing on yourself and your control during the taper week you can get great results from it and feel fantastic on race day.

There are big events on in Port Macquarie and Busselton this coming weekend so good luck to everyone who is racing and I hope that any T1D’s are tracking well for their events and I wish them all the best for race day.

T&D April 24

This week has been all about trying not to stuff it up. I’ve had four good weeks of training, gotten my BGLs back into a reasonably good pattern and I’ve started to feel fit and strong again. I believe that I am tracking well for a good performance at Port Macquarie Ironman 70.3 in a weeks time.

I generally don’t do a big tamper as I find that changing my daily routine too much throws out my BGLs. Tamper is about getting to race day being full of energy and feeling great so keeping my BGLs is check is vitally important. I try to keep my sessions during tampers weeks relatively consistent and just reduce the volume and intensity a little bit. I have been using Training Peaks for nearly a year now and as an engineering I love all of the data and feedback which the package provides me. The Performance Management Chart has been really helpful over the last couple of weeks to track how my fitness has progressed and also where I am going to be come race day on May 1st. Although I am not physically where I was 6 months ago I am feeling really positive at the moment and I think that is as important for achieving my best performance.

T&D April 24

Every training session recorded and analysed – TP Performance Manage Chart

Every week now I am reviewing what I have done and what I have learnt and the same things keep coming up as being really important for both my diabetes and my training. This week it has been; quality over quantity, and sticking to the plan. In all cases when I have changed something, tried to re-invent the wheel or do something extra then the results haven’t been positive; be they bad BGLs or not recovering from an extra training session, both leaving me feeling average.

The above points are particularly appreciable during tampering weeks when the focus is on feeling great. The hard work has been done and there are not fitness gains to be made during these weeks and by doing the wrongs things the impact on your race day performance is significant. I have really work hard to stick to my training sessions (going easy with some high intensity efforts) and also keep my BGLs in check by following the diet and insulin plan which I know works for me. It’s pretty simple in theory but a lot more difficult to execute. Luckily I’ve had plenty of experience following a plan to keep me feeling healthy so I’m pretty good at doing what is right (one of the bonuses of having T1D!).

Next week I’ll be reporting back from Port Macquarie. I’m an super exciting to race and see if all of the hard work will pay off. Diabetes plan in check and I’m off to the starting line.

T&D April 17

It has been my biggest week of training in 2016! It certainly feels like it and Training Peaks also tells me that it is. This is a massive achievement after suffering from illness, a broken collar bone, mental fatigue and diabetes challenges over the last 6 months. With two weeks until Port Macquarie 70.3 I am feeling in a really good place and hoping that with my revised training methodology and my recent time-off this will result in a positive performance in the race. This may be positionally, a PB or just getting through the race with no diabetes complications or impacts on my performance.

It has been another challenging week managing my BGLs. After lats week regular hypo’s this week my overnight BGL’s kept running high and really affected my sleep. Multiple bolus corrections were required overnight and trying to get my BGLs to stay stable for morning training sessions was a real challenge. Luckily I got through all but one of my sessions without too many issues, the “one” resulted in a long slow hypo walk home.

T&D April 17 Image

TSS tells the story this week with some work still to do on the bike.

This past couple of weeks have present some of the biggest diabetes challenges, particularly trying to figure out unexpected BGL and subsequent basal pattern changes. Having essentially the same routine these variations are so frustrating and very difficult to control. Trying to manage them I’ve done a several things well and a couple of things badly. With hindsight the best management is easy to figure out but at the time getting it 100% is neigh impossible.

What I Did Well

  • Assessed high and low BGLs each day and adjusted basal rate accordingly (used CGM effectively for this)
  • Made adjustments that would be tracable the following day, that is I would be able to review if the changes worked or didn’t work (recorded basal changes and kept bolus the same)
  • Managed training sessions around high BGLs so that I still got something out of the training session (reduced effort sets when BGLs ran high)
  • Kept my diet really simple and avoided sugars and Hi-Gi carbs (expect when I over-treated a hypo).
  • Generally didn’t stress out when BGLs didn’t track as planned

What I Didn’t Do Well

  • Over-treated a couple of hypos and high BGL episodes which resulted in a see-saw of BGLs for the following hours. Hypo cravings can be difficult to manage especially when coming off a high where you haven’t eaten very much.
  • Drank too much coffee when BGLs were high, I find that coffee seems to reduce the effectiveness of my insulin doses in these situations. I also find that I drink more coffee when my BGLs are high because I don’t eat as much.
  • Made a bolus/basal plan for training and then didn’t follow it resulting in a significant hypo. I got scared by at rapidily rising BGL and gave a small bolus correction, BGLs stabilised and during the next part of the session I hypo’d.

After such a big week I’ve got a couple of days off to let my body recover and then it’s 12 days to get in some final race intensity work on the track, plenty of active recovery, finalise my diabetes and prepare for race day. Great opportunity to be physically and mental 100% for Port Macquarie 70.3 and I really want to get this one right.

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!

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.

T&D Mar 13

It’s been a fantastic week. I actually forgot what it felt like to be energised for a training session and this week’s sessions have been thoroughly enjoyable. Nothing too exciting but for my first week back it’s been great to focus on one session per day, incorporate my new strength program and get plenty of recovery in. Sticking to my training plan for the up coming 7 weeks I am confident that I will have a successful trip to Port Macquarie 70.3 at the start of May including a bit of redemption for my broken collar bone.

My weeks away from training have also been great for my diabetes. Physical and mental stress definitely makes maintaining stable BGLs more difficult, not least because you are often caught trying to force your BGLs to where you want them to be (which never works out well). I have taken this more relaxed approached into my training this week and the results have been great. I have been able to complete all of my sessions with stable BGLs and no highs post training which I have previously experienced. My time off has changed my insulin sensitivity a little and I’ve had to readjustment my basal plan to avoid highs/lows throughout the day and night. These changes have also been successful.

T&D Mar 13

Week 1 – strength, low volume, technique and pure enjoyment!

I’ve learnt a couple of really fundamental things over the last couple of weeks. Most of all it’s been listening to my body and not just forcing it. Now if my BGLs are not quite right or I am not feeling 100% then I am going to take heed of this and make adjustments. These may include changing the training session or missing the session all together. More importantly I’m going to make sure that my BGLs are in the right place before I start a session. Too many times I’ve been low and loaded up on sugar, or I’ve been high and given a correction bolus dose and then tried to train. Both scenario’s rarely work out well and this not only affects me physically with poor BGLs and a wasted training session, but also mentally as I stress about the previous items. I missed two weeks and am feeling great. Missing one session won’t make any difference.

Actual training takes up most of your time, but all of the peripheral things (how you are feeling, fatigue, conditioning, nutrition, recovery, etc.) are even more important and they will be the ones that derail your performance the most, as I have personally found.