Someone asked me the other day what I’d consider the hardest part of training for a 70.3 to be. The time commitment ranks pretty high up there, but most of my time stressers revolve around having a new job and that job being the management of a $1 million Promise Gala in April. I’m not sure I’d feel the same way about the time commitment if my job weren’t also in its busiest season of the year. The one thing that is always hard though and the thing that doesn’t rotate on a seasonal calendar is diabetes. And hands down, that’s the hardest part of training for the 70.3 triathlon.
My sweet spot for workouts is late afternoon when the workday is finished. It releases all of my stresses from the day, and I am able to unwind completely. I always want to start a workout without any insulin in my system. We call that active insulin. It takes 3-4 hours for insulin to completely clear, so it means I have to eat lunch no later than 1 p.m. Most days, I eat around noon, and I’m hungry again by 3 or 4. But if I eat, I have to give insulin. If I give insulin, I need to push back my workout. I end up being hungry all afternoon to avoid the insulin. I’ve been researching snacks and other nutritional advice to curb the hunger attacks and to find healthy snack options without carbs because usually, no carbs mean no insulin.
And then there’s changing my basal rate. My insulin pump is programmed to give me a certain amount of insulin each hour, and that’s called my basal rate. In a perfect world, I lower that rate an hour before working out because when your body is active all the time, it becomes more efficient. It works better and processes things better, including insulin. I have an increased sensitivity to insulin because my body is more efficient. Going into a long workout, I like to have a little less insulin on board to help avoid low blood sugars.
But let’s be real for a minute. I have been known to completely forget to give insulin for meals before, I forget how old I am on a regular basis, and if I had a dollar for every time I lost my cell phone or my keys, well… I could’ve bought my new bike with that pile of money. So the odds of my remembering to lower that basal rate an hour before working out? Yeah, I wouldn’t place your bets there. On the occasion I do remember, there’s no missing the workout because if I do and I’ve lowered my insulin, I’m going to go high. And high blood sugars make you feel miserable not to mention it’s dangerous to work out with high blood sugars. You can develop ketones and get super sick. (The simplified explanation of that means when you’re blood sugar is high, your body struggles to use that glucose to energy. Ketones can form in your blood and then spill into your urine. It’s a bad thing and can make you very sick.)
The head space I have to create for diabetes in training is more than I really want to dedicate to it. Unfortunately, it’s necessary. There’s so much planning involved, and I feel like my brain is always on. Every piece of food has to be considered around a workout because of insulin. It’s exhausting, and quite frankly, it’s the hardest part of my training. It’s a weird relationship I have with diabetes at the moment. It’s my motivator for this 70.3 race, but it’s also the thing that frustrates me the most during training. Regardless of my feelings toward diabetes on any given day, the one thing that’s constant is my desire for a cure. Please consider supporting my quest to raise $10K this year for research… mostly because I’m really tired of counting carbs and pre-planning insulin doses.