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Diabetic Running: Running With a Pack of Hungry Toddlers

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Outdoor running season is a long way off here in Wisconsin as our schools are currently closed due to an ice storm this morning (5th weather day this winter!!) followed by a non-stop pouring rain/sleet the rest of the day.  Still, today is a running day because…today is new running shoes day!!! 

They just came in the mail today and after rescuing them from their soaked box I slipped them on and have been wandering around my house to see how I like the fit.  I have also explained this process to my kids no less than three times, as breaking-in shoes doesn’t exist in a seven year old world. 

This is my third pair of Brooks running shoes and I really love the brand.  I used to buy whatever pair looked cool at the outlet mall but a dislocated toe sent me to a real running store where I had the revelation that there is some truth to a running shoe bearing that title. 

Running with diabetes…imagine going for a run, packed for a picnic that requires you take a math test before attending, while being chased mentally by a pack of hungry toddlers, who at any point in time can stop your run if you don’t pay enough attention to them.  Yep, it’s kinda like that. 

Before leaving for a run you must have a pretty good idea of how far or how long you plan to go so that you can ensure that you eat enough of the right food before you leave.  Running on an empty stomach has never been an option for me as a diabetic.  You also have to bolus (insulin you take based on the number of carbs you eat) the correct amount with the anticipation of the physical exercise you are about to start since exercise will take your blood sugar down.

Timing of said run is crucial.  Eating and then waiting around for a running buddy or another unexpected delay is really not an option as your sugars will likely rise while waiting and all your planning will be for nothing.

Despite eating you will still need to bring food with you if you are planning a longer run.  So a fuel belt is a must.  I prefer the Spi-Belt as is stretches to fit a lot of supplies. 

Inside my pack:

  • Granola Bar
  • Glucose tablets – in a small plastic bag as the tube they come in is too bulky
  • Blood Glucose Meter – I take all the pieces out of its case and stuff the test strip canister with tissue so they don’t rattle with every step

Once you’re all packed you are set to enjoy a relaxing, mind-freeing run.  Well, until your glucose sensor starts to beep alerting you that your blood sugars are either high or low.  At which time you will enlist your super skill of testing your blood while running and if needed unwrapping whatever food you need or entering a bolus into your pump. These tasks are an acquired but necessary skill.  Practice is advised to prevent running into cars or running buddies or dropping your precious granola bar on the ground. 

If running alone you will be graced with the joy of your mind constantly pondering who would find you if your sugars went too low and you ended up in a ditch somewhere. Horrible thought right?  Not something to laugh at right?  Here’s the thing, the ability to “laugh” or make light of these scary situations is what allows you put your shoes on and go out for your next run.  Fear cannot take your joy away unless you let it.  With that said, it is so important to run prepared no matter how much of an inconvenience it is.  You can push fear aside, you cannot push preparation and common sense aside.  Starting a five mile run at a blood sugar reading of 80 is just stupid.  I always make sure someone knows that I am going out on a long run and I always carry my phone (my husband can use the Find my IPhone app to track me if needed).

Over time all of the above became second nature and despite my diabetes I can run and let my mind wander, getting lost in the rhythm of my steps and the music in my ears.  I crave the feeling of pushing my body and my mind to go beyond the comfortable and the feeling of accomplishment after I take that last step is delicious. 

So despite all the extra work, it is worth it.  I wouldn’t take a math test to go on a picnic with hungry toddlers if it wasn’t.

Diabetic Mama of Twins fueled by my family, working out, eating, dog walking, getting lost in the woods and insulin. Writing to share the journey this Type 1 diagnosis has taken me on since 2007.

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