Home Diabetes Care The Diabetes Guide to Running Your First Marathon

The Diabetes Guide to Running Your First Marathon

The Diabetes Guide to Running Your First Marathon


Editor’s Note: Alexi was a member of the 2021 Beyond Type Run team running the TCS Recent York City Marathon. Though the runners from previous marathon teams have type 1 diabetes, this guide is applicable to individuals with type 2 diabetes who’re also training for the NYC TCS Marathon. Please use this 

So, you’ve gotten type 1 diabetes (T1D) and you desire to run a marathon. You’re in luck! I did.

I used to be one in every of 27 folks with type 1 diabetes that crossed the finish line within the 2019 Recent York City Marathon on November third, 2019.

In the event you are an experienced runner—this will not be for you. In the event you are a super-newbie runner who’s hesitant or lacking confidence, read on. Truly, that is more a comedy of errors than a “guide.”

I made a decision that it could be best to first outline every little thing that went flawed versus talking at length about what an amazingly gratifying and life-altering experience it was ultimately, what number of incredible friends I made, and the way I’m already chomping on the bit to do it again. I’ll get to that. But first: the rough stuff.

I didn’t even come near my training goal

Before training, I had never run greater than about 7 miles—save for what my Health app says after a full day (walking) at Disneyland. Also, I even have all the time been a strict power-walker, so my body has never quite adapted to full steam running. I used to be fairly consistent with my training, alternating between power-walking and running, however the highest mileage I achieved was roughly 12 miles.

Comparing myself to others really sucked

One in all the pitfalls of social media: comparing yourself to other people’s experiences and accomplishments. This was just as true during training, if no more so. Inside our Beyond Type Run team, we had some incredibly experienced runners who were in a position to guide and motivate the not-so-savvy runners like me. (Awesome!) Nonetheless, seeing their weekly 15, 18 and 20-mile runs posted on Strava was brutal—especially on the times that my body and blood glucose (BG) levels wouldn’t appear to let me push past 2 or 3 miles.

The logistics were intense

From getting myself to the hectic Javits center in NYC in time to select up my bib number and pre-race goodies to organizing my running belt for race day, the logistics leading as much as November third were arguably more stressful than running the marathon itself.  Super insightful and obvious tip: worry about each step AS you complete each step—not before.

The beginning village is by far the worst part

The one time I legitimately thought: “I’m not going to give you the option to do that,” was while waiting for 4 hours in the beginning village in Staten Island, coming dangerously near hypothermia. The 2 extra layers of warm clothing that I finally tossed within the donation bins before starting the race did absolutely no good to get my body temperature up. If I had known just how cold it was going to be, I’d have brought ski pants and a down comforter. There are not any places to take a seat apart from the grass. The food options leave so much to be desired (so bring your personal!), unless you like bland bagels.

My glucometer stopped working

Be advised! Some glucometers flat out stop working when it’s cold enough. My meter only worked perhaps 4 out of the ten times that I attempted to check. Lots of my teammates opted to not bring one in any respect and only depend on their continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), but I’m old fashioned so I are likely to do each. One in all my lovely teammates let me use hers in the beginning village, and I made a rapid stop at one in every of the medical tents along the marathon path to get a reading after I wasn’t sure whether or not my CGM was giving me a false low.

The excellent news: yes, there are medical tents—a lot of them.

Nerves + BG spikes are a thing

I believed I used to be the just one. Despite taking a good amount of insulin for my 5:00 a.m. breakfast, my BG just kept spiking right up until my 11:00 a.m. start time. I quickly discovered I used to be not alone, though. Lots of my teammates also began to experience anxiety/excitement spikes just before running. I made a decision to see how my blood glucose levels progressed after running for a few miles before making any correction decisions. It’s a superb thing that I did—I dropped steadily, and wound up not having to take any fast acting insulin in any respect.

Disclaimer: I’m not on a pump, so I had long acting insulin working in my system. This shouldn’t be to be taken as medical advice.

I never need to see one other gel or energy chew for the remainder of my life

Honey Stingers gels and Gu energy chews are kind of the rationale I lived to inform this tale. I had about three fairly significant blood sugar crashes at different points along the route. Because of my Dexcom CGM, which never wavered or lost signal, I caught all of them in time. But I actually lost count of what number of electrolyte pouches and chews I needed to suck right down to get my levels back up. My second medical tent pitstop was to get a bag of pretzels. I needed something in my system that was not of the gelatin family.

The takeaways

My most vital realizations from running 26.2 miles: There’s a fantastic line between knowing when to stop and knowing when you possibly can push yourself somewhat further.

One in all my mantras the entire way was: “stop if you’ll want to.” I never had any time, goal or expectation to even finish the entire thing. Now that I’ve gotten this primary marathon out of the way in which, possibly I can set some more ambitious goals for the subsequent one. (Good lord, did I just say “the NEXT one?!”)

And the reality is, I did stop. I finished repeatedly—but I didn’t quit.

As a T1D, I even have all the time felt that I used to be fairly expert at knowing easy methods to hearken to cues from my body. Running a marathon has taken that skill to a complete recent level. My biggest advice is to listen, and listen closely. There have been several instances where I ultimately decided that I could keep pushing forward after taking a breath, having some water and/or a gel—but had my body wavered even an inch in the opposite direction, I’d have bowed out.

Trust your personal pace.

It took me an absurd period of time to complete. But, it was the identical for plenty of people—of all ages and circumstances. I made the choice to power-walk something like 75 percent of the race. Granted, my teammate Lauren Salko (who I crossed the finish line with!) assures me that my fast walk is identical pace as plenty of people’s slow run. And she or he’s an expert athlete so I even have to imagine her, right?! Right. But… I made certain to seek out my pace early on within the race, and to do my best to carry it regular. After all, there have been those moments of adrenaline when the crowds were going nuts and I felt motivated to run for so long as I felt was healthy for me.

I cannot speak for the remainder of the team, but I do know that at the least a handful of them, even probably the most elite of the bunch, also doubted themselves and/or fell in need of their goals. Each during a marathon and in day-to-day life with type 1 diabetes, we have now to seek out our groove. We have now to take the hits as they arrive, plan as best we will and in addition make decisions on the fly.

What I do know for certain is that every one 27 of us have type 1 diabetes. All 27 of us began the Recent York City Marathon. And all 27 of us finished.

Alexi is raising money for Beyond Type 1 through Beyond Type Run—her fundraising will make an actual difference within the lives of those living with T1D.


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