For a runner, being diagnosed with diabetes can seem like the end of the world but it needn’t stop you from achieving your goals whether that's a 5k or an ultra. Pre-planning along with blood sugar management and plenty of determination means anything is possible.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that causes high blood sugar levels due to problems with insulin. There are two forms of diabetes - Type 1 where the body is unable to produce insulin and needs daily injections or a regular supply via an insulin pump: Type 2 in which the body doesn’t produce sufficient insulin or becomes resistant to insulin requiring the person to keep their blood sugar levels under control.
Diabetics are encouraged to eat healthily and take regular exercise, and running is one of the best ways of controlling this condition while improving health and wellbeing. It is important to carry diabetic ID, glucose tablets and a meter when out on a training run or during a race and pay particular attention to your hydration and nutrition.
This all poses an extra challenge to the ultra runner who already has the distance, terrain, weather, kit choice and fuelling/hydration to consider without the added complication of their blood sugar. However, it wasn’t an obstacle for 16 runners with Type 1 diabetes who took on the Lakes in a Day 50 mile ultra, organised by Open Adventure earlier in October. Race director James Thurlow, also a Type 1 diabetic, was immensely proud of these entrants who were the largest field with this condition in an ultramarathon.
Whether you are running an ultra, a race on behalf of a charity such as Diabetes UK or your local parkrun, have a plan and follow your passion.