I’m running out of time. In five weeks I’ll try to run the entire 186 mile length of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path over three days. There are no training plans for the Marathon des Cote. This is the first year the event has been held and no one is known to have completed the path in less than four days. The organisers did it in six last year. As far as I’m aware, all of these people have working pancreases. I am freaking out.
How does a type one diabetic prepare for a 186 mile run?
This one runs (duh). A lot (see this week’s schedule above). But not too much. What with the three kids, a business to run, the wife to keep on side, etc… fitting in all the miles has been the biggest challenge of the past four months’ training. It still feels like I’m not doing enough. Three days is only 72 hours and 186 miles is a bloody long way. Strava says my weekly average this year has been 43 miles. Something doesn’t add up there.
“The key thing is that the miles don’t hurt so much as they used to. I can run further, maybe even faster…”
Or so it seems. There’s more to all this than simply totting up the miles. It’s easy to get fixated on the numbers, but I’ve learned that the focus needs to be on quality, not quantity. I try and remember that when I’m freaking out about the mammoth challenge that’s approaching. The key thing is that the miles don’t hurt so much as they used to. I can run further, maybe even faster. I’m sure that’s down to the strength & conditioning and Crossfit (marked as ‘WOD’ on the above schedule) I’ve been doing.
The freezing winds, rain, snow, low blood sugars, high blood sugars, late nights, early mornings, cramps and impromptu crouching in bushes of the past 5 months… all worth it for afternoons like this. Why I run. #ukrunchat #runnerblisshttps://t.co/bs3RuTmGgn pic.twitter.com/bPLooQVX96
— Diabetic Dad Runs (@diabeticdadruns) 2 May 2018
This is my penultimate ‘intense’ week of training before the MdC. I’m aiming to cover around 100 miles in the next seven days. The past four months have followed a pattern of micro and macro cycles. Every week has included three consecutive days of long runs (after all, the MdC will last three days… or that’s the aim), a hill repeats session and a shorter outing. The duration and intensity of these runs have been determined by a four week cycle of one intense, one recovery and two moderate weeks, allowing me to gradually build distance.
“My blood sugar levels still swing as wildly as Austin Powers at an orgy. It’s so easy to get despondent…”
Then there’s the big D, the bane of my life, the dia-fucking-betes. My blood sugar levels still swing as wildly as Austin Powers at an orgy. It’s so easy to get despondent about this, and the three years and counting the NHS has taken to consider my application for an insulin pump, a bit of kit my consultant says should make controlling my diabetes easier (alas, he doesn’t get the final say on whether or not I get one).
— Diabetic Dad Runs (@diabeticdadruns) 1 May 2018
But, as with the mileage, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. I generally find controlling my blood sugar harder on rest days, because this involves adjusting my insulin dosage to account for the lower levels of activity I’m doing. My current insulin regimen of two shots of long acting Levemir a day, with fast acting Novorapid with each meal, doesn’t give me the flexibility to deal with the transition from run days to rest days. However, I feel that I am getting to grips with my control when I’m actually running.
“Before each run I eat oats or granary bread with eggs, avocado or peanut butter and reduce my insulin dose by two thirds…”
Eating proper food has been key. I used to rely far too much on glucose gels and drinks to keep me topped up on my runs. I still take them with me, of course (they are the best way to quickly treat a hypo on the run), but I also pack sandwiches (peanut butter & marmalade is the ultimate run fuel) and flap jacks, which I tend to tuck into every 90 minutes or so. Before each run I eat oats or granary bread with eggs, avocado or peanut butter and reduce my insulin dose by two thirds. I’m hypoing less on my runs now.
— Diabetic Dad Runs (@diabeticdadruns) 10 April 2018
In five weeks I’ll find out if this will see me through 186 miles. Right now I don’t have a blue clue whether it will. But that’s what makes all this even more exciting.
While you’re here… you might wonder why I’m doing all this. Well, I want to help find a cure for type one diabetes and help those living around the world with the condition. I am raising funds for diabetes charities T1International, JDRF and Diabetes UK. If you could spare a small amount, you can do so here. Thanks!