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Monday, February 25, 2008

Running a marathon with diabetes

"...So I am 52 years old, and have been running about an hour a day for years, which I think is about 8 kms ...

I have run two half marathons in the past .... about 15 years ago which took me about 2:20 mins.
Since I had my second child I have had diabetes which seems to have stabilized for about the last three or four years and I take one glipizide tablet a day and the maximum dose of metformin. I am worried about this on the long runs.
Since deciding to do the marathon I have run a few two hour runs and some 2 ½ hour runs, but I find them pretty sapping – although it is hot at the moment. What happens is that I eat at about 8 – 8 30, then if I don’t eat again I can get quite shaky at 12-12:30, or if I have a cracker I can delay this until 1 – 1:30. After this I am fine as the medication has worn off.
I am wondering what will happen with these long runs and what is the best way to deal with the problem of eating during the marathon as I read your advice about not eating for two hours before the marathon and training your body to metabolise fat. I’m not sure that my body will do this with low insulin, so wonder what is the best plan for me."
Gary Moller comments:
Running a marathon is best made a long term goal with at least one year and preferably several years of running shorter distances as your buildup. This gives your body time to adapt to the stresses and strains of running such distances.

The cardiovascular system adapts very quickly to exercise - at least twice as quickly as the musculoskeletal system. The muscles, bones, ligaments and joint cartilages. This is one reason why there are so many injuries in running. Especially marathon running. If you read Lorraine Moller's autobiography, you will note that the restrictions on distance run by women during her early running years may be the best explanation for her longevity as a marathon runner. My advice to you is to join a running club and run the shorter cross country and road races that are no longer than 10km. These short runs and races will help harden your body with minimal risk of injury and give you the experience to pace yourself and to practice honing your blood sugar management.

As an aspiring marathon runner, you have the added challenge of diabetes. The first thing to do is to ensure that you are properly managing your diabetes. This means investing in the latest technology such as an insulin pump and then testing your sugar levels several times a day, including before and after your short and long runs.

Much of the long term harm to the body from diabetes is from free radical damage. Anybody with diabetes, including fit athletes, should be taking ample anti-oxidants daily. This includes plenty of natural vitamin C, the B vitamins and the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). Most of these can be ontained through natural sources and topped up with some supplements. A delicious source of anti-oxidants is the new Nutra-Life "Load-Up" drink powders. Once scoop gives the recommended daily intake of Nature's most powerful antioxidants.

Joint arthritis is more likely with diabetes. Taking a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement such as Nutra-Life JF4500 daily as a preventer is recommended (This may have a slight effect on blood sugar; but thorough monitoring of blood sugar should enable any adjustments).

Finally, take care with the sugar-free products that contain artificial sweeteners. Regardless of the arguments for and against these; the simple fact is we do not need them. We are all better off without these in our bodies. The same goes for artificial colourings and preservatives. The diabetic should be especially vigilant. Natural and whole are always best.

Good luck with your running and please keep us updated with how you get on Anne.

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