I didn’t think that taking up running to train for a half marathon would be such a faff. I knew there were reasons why I have consistently avoided exercise – but I didn’t think the list would be this long.
Then there are the things that I didn’t prepare myself for:
Like sports bras. I understand that this type of scaffolding is a necessity, but I did not expect my chest to turn into a mis-shaped blancmange-like mono-boob.
And bum bags. I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve bought one of these hideous fashion faux pas, not as an ironic nod to the 90s revival, but as a practical solution to carrying my jelly beans and blood testing kit. I’d have never predicted that my diabetes would dictate what I had to accessorize with.
On a more serious note, I certainly did not expect how much exercise and training with type 1 diabetes would affect my blood sugars. In the first few weeks of the running plan I was only running for short bursts. I just had to make sure I wouldn’t go hypo, and so a handful of raisins or a banana before I set off did the trick.
The longer runs are a different story. My sugar levels have been less predictable, and never having dabbled in exercise before it has been, and still is, a steep learning curve.
Getting my head around that exercise can affect your sugar levels up to 48 hours after you have donned your lycra, has been a bit of a challenge! I have had many night time lows, morning highs and about a month of being absolutely exhausted from the swinging around all over the place.
With a good old DAFNE course to the rescue, I think I have finally got my basal insulin sorted. From more exercise, my insulin sensitivity has gone up and my ratios have lowered which means I am taking less insulin in order to stabilize my sugars. This has got to be a good thing right? The whole thing has been a shock to the system and it has taken me out of my comfort zone. I honestly did not think that jogging around a park would be such a palaver.
Trying to negotiate all of these things with my body has been like learning how to manage my diabetes all over again. I feel like I have had to start from scratch because I have never put my body through this before.
Is it worth it? Yes. Despite all of this, I am enjoying it. Well, actually, I have enjoyed the sense of achievement I get when I have braved the cold (despite the sweating and the red face). I can tell that my body is appreciating the exercise and I know that I will be able to understand how to manage my sugar levels in the long run.
I am wary that my goal is to run about four times as much as I am doing now and that I don’t know what affect it will have on my diabetes. But I have six months until race day and the full confidence that I can stabilize my control. I fear I am going to have to buy a MEGA bum bag to carry two hours’ worth of jelly beans in it so I don’t go hypo half way through the route.
Also, I’ll admit that if I ever go running in the rain, I secretly imagine myself in my own film montage with the Rocky sound track blazing through my head (though he’s lucky he had no need for a sports bra and there is no way I am EVER wearing one of those vests).