Running a Marathon with type 1 diabetes

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How to Run a Half Marathon With Type 1 Diabetes

Guest Blogger: Jacob Seltzer guest blooger

My name is Jacob Seltzer, I am 20 years old, and a Type 1 Diabetic. I was diagnosed with diabetes on my half birthday, November 21, 2011 at the age of 15. I have had diabetes for roughly 5 years and I do not let it get in my way. I am currently going into my junior year of college at Stony Brook University as an athletic training major.

Recently, I decided to start up my own blog. My reasoning behind this was to spread awareness of the disease, better educate people, and most of all serve as a peer to help newly diagnosed diabetics cope with their disease. This blog, among so many
others online today, will have to serve us as we work together to find a cure for this disease.

I have also entered a contest from Runner’s World magazine, to be featured on the cover of the December issue!

Please vote for me at the Runner’s World website!!

 

Running 26.2 miles sounds pleasant right? I’m sure many people reading this disagree. Pleasant isn’t the right word to use for long distance running. However, it is one of the most rewarding things that I have ever experienced. One thing that I have learned is training for this distance is not an easy thing to do. In fact, mentally it can be very draining. All runners experience the highs and lows of running while training for a marathon (or any other race), however, as a runner with diabetes, you literally experience highs and lows with running.

jacob photo

 

There is no such thing as a perfect training strategy since everyone is different, but a beginner plan is the way to start off. My mom bought me a book consisting of three training plans for half marathons and three training plans for full marathons all of which include a taper period (shortened distances by the end of the training). In order to truly understand the struggles of running with diabetes, it would help to go back 2 years to my senior year of high school.

 

My senior year of high school marked my 2 year diaversary, and everything seemed under control. This was my year to shine. I was named captain of my cross country team, and I was ready to run my best times yet.  Although I was mentally prepared, my body disagreed. I was going through this phase where no matter what I did, no matter how high my blood sugar started, with any type of exercise, my sugar would immediately drop. As a result, I wasn’t even able to run 1 mile so it couldn’t have been possible to run a 5k (3.1 miles) as is the typical distance for cross country. It was then that my parents found Gary Scheiner and Integrated Diabetes Services. The team at IDS helped me come up with a personal plan in order to make sure my numbers stayed steady through the run and throughout the rest of the day as well. Unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to perform to my highest ability in cross country, nor did I ever complete a race without having to stop that season. However, indoor and outdoor track season was my time to shine. I broke 5 minutes for the mile, and 11 minutes for the 2 mile, times which a lot of runners aspire to meet.

Training for the marathon:

January, 2016: the start of my marathon training. The marathon training plan consists of 16 weeks of running prior to the event, leaving plenty of room for trial and error. I had to be in the best shape of my life, and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me, especially diabetes. So what did I do? I ran. I gave it my all. If I wasn’t tired by the end of my workout I was doing something wrong. Of course complications did arise, but nothing too worrisome. I experienced blood sugar spikes in the time after my long runs so I needed to learn to adjust my insulin in order to correct that, and prevent high blood sugars.

 

Jenny from Integrated Diabetes worked with me to ensure that I reached my fitness goals and stayed safe while doing so. This included proper training, nutrition (prior to runs, during runs, and post runs), and diabetes management.  We did a lot of evaluation of basal rates and how my blood glucose responded based on the training session in order to get it set right. Surprisingly enough, the diabetes aspect of the training wasn’t that bad. As soon as we figured out how to deal with the rises and falls in my blood glucose, everything else was adjustment in the running piece.  The hardest part by far was finding the motivation to train but sometimes the best motivation is the desire to succeed, and that’s what pushed me through the long runs…especially those runs in the pouring rain.

 

Everyone is different. Every body functions differently, and the same goes for diabetes management. As a result, I needed to see what worked for me. The thing that is hard is that it won’t work exactly the same for everyone. Experimentation, record keeping and trial and error are key.

Running the marathon:

May 1st, 2016: race day. This was it. This was my time to shine…maybe not, as there was no sun in sight. Nothing but cloudsand eventually rain. As soon as it was time to start, I wadexcom for J marathons ready; nothing was going to stop me. The first half of the race, I maintained an 8 minute pace throughout and, according to my dexcom, steady blood sugars. Perfect. Everything was consistent until mile 21 when I felt like I could push it more, and that’s exactly what I did. Despite the pouring, cold rain, I ended up finishing the race in 3:24:07; placing first in my age group!  Phenomenal. Unreal. Anything is possible…New York Marathon 2016, I’m coming for ya! Although diabetes will be with me though it all, it’s not going to win unless I throw in the towel…but that’s never gonna happen.

By | 2016-12-08T23:26:42+00:00 May 31st, 2016|Thinking Like A Pancreas Blog|4 Comments

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4 Comments

  1. Dallas Valentine June 12, 2016 at 4:08 am - Reply

    Very inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Joe Ehlers November 25, 2016 at 8:47 pm - Reply

    Congrats Jacob, good time!

  3. Rocky Walter December 18, 2016 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    I run trail races, so quite a different pace, but how did you handle eating and insulin on race day? On the morning of my 50K I had oat meal but took no bolus because I was afraid of a drop, but I ended up too high. It’s such a tricky balance.

  4. Lily Masters February 25, 2017 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    Hi Jacob, I am also a 20 year old T1D marathon runner/ athlete. I am wondering what type of diet you eat? I found the best way to control spikes and drops during exercise is to eat an extremely low carb diet. Since we are approaching spring race season I am cracking back down on my diet. Just searching the web for tips!

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