Brian has found exercising and diabetes can go together with a little help from his insulin pump and a different approach.
I've had Type 1 diabetes for just over three years now. I was diagnosed in September 2014 at the age of 33. Looking back I was showing symptoms for at least three months prior to being admitted to hospital with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) This is why the 4 Ts of diabetes messaging is so important. I always try to raise awareness wherever possible. Prior to diagnosis I was really into bike riding. Back in 2012 I was really out of shape, having spent years not getting any form of exercise. At this point I decided it was time to do something about my physical condition and took up bike riding. At my best I was covering over 100 miles per week. I haven't ventured back into cycling since diagnosis, but have focused more on running.
I avoided doing anything too active
Ever since diagnosis and that very first healthcare professional saying to me that exercise is really tricky with diabetes, I have avoided doing anything too active. The few times I tried it always ended up with some really unstable bloods, both high and low. To me, that was reason enough to not exercise. 2017 was going to be the year that I stopped letting diabetes be a barrier to me enjoying exercise and fitness. I know now that it wasn’t diabetes stopping me, it was me stopping it happening!
Once I started exercising and seeing patterns developing I was able to make changes to my insulin regime to prevent them from happening as often. I still get the odd day where it catches me out, but that's all part of the fun that is diabetes I guess. As I am on an insulin pump, it really gives me the flexibility I need to hone my insulin to meet the requirements of exercising. To be able to have very little, or even no basal insulin whilst I am exercising has been key for me. It is fully attainable on MDI, it just presents a different set of challenges and a bit more forward planning.
Goals helped me get into regular running
The approach I have taken towards training has been very goal driven. I started with the small goal of running 1km at a steady pace without stopping. Then 2km, 3km, 4km building up to being able to run a 5k without stopping. At no point early on was it about time, just about doing the distances. Once I got to being able to run 5k on a treadmill I wanted to find a local 5k event to enter. This is when I discovered Parkrun, and the running bug really took hold! I would encourage anybody to try their local Parkrun, it isn't a race and everybody is made to feel so welcome. As my fitness improved I started to train towards faster times, and have seen great improvements over the past 6 months. I started out back in April with a 5k time of 37 minutes, my last Parkrun I completed in 22 minutes.
Once I signed up for the Royal Parks Half Marathon, my goals changed and just finishing the distance was back on my agenda. This was where training needed to become a little more structured and distance runs were required. These runs bought a whole new load of blood sugar challenges, which I hopefully have worked out now ready for 8 October, fingers crossed! I feel lucky to be a part of the Royal Parks Half Marathon.
I’m hoping that it inspires other people to make a change, to not let their diabetes hold them back as it really doesn't have to. Along the way having Type 1 diabetes has put a few obstacles in my way, but all of them are there to test us, each one can be overcome. Trial and error has been my friend with working out what works for me with exercise and my Type 1. I am excited and nervous in equal measure for the event day itself. I know that my diabetes won't stop me taking part, and completing the event, but I bet it will throw me a few curve balls on the day.
If my taking part in the Royal Parks Half Marathon inspires just one person to stop letting diabetes being a barrier to anything in life, then it has been a worthwhile day for me. Having Type 1 diabetes comes with a whole load of baggage, but it doesn't mean we should let it hold us back.
To support his run, go to Brian's JustGiving page.