I've noticed that there are many newly diagnosed Type 1 Youths that are engaging in the sport of Cross Country running. This is wonderful because it must be the hardest sport to regular blood glucose (bg) for. This says a lot about our kids. My daughter is 16 yrs old and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes last August just before the beginning of her first year of cross country. She's always excelled in sports especially those that require a lot of running and tough training. Having diabetes presented a much tougher fight for her during cross country season.
Initially during her training runs, her bg would steadily drop. So we either decreased the insulin of her last meal so that she'd have carbs to burn down during the run or decrease her basal insulin in the pump by 50% or so during the period of running to avoid too much insulin being delivered to her. She's been on the insulin pump since January . . just 5 months after being diagnosed. Contrastly, during her actual cross country races which are 3.1 miles "races" not jogs, her bg would increase dramatically resulting in a bad run. She describes the pain in her legs as heavy, stiff and hard to move. I know that this is a result of the stress hormone or adrenaline released from the liver and muscles to aid in her performance however since there wouldn't be enough insulin on board to bring the hormorne/bg properly into her cells to be used as energy, it would just float around in her body until she decided to stop running. She's very competitive and would never stop running... which caused me to be more concerned as I watch her run with pain and disappointment.
This 2008 season was no different. We have yet to find a way that she can complete a 3.1 mile race without being afflicted by high bg's. During the first mile of her race, she runs between a 6.2 and 6.9 minute mile followed by a 7 minute second mile. Repeatedly, like clock work, just as she finishes her 2nd mile, her blood sugars rise resulting in a 10 - 11 minute 3rd mile. Her coaches are amazed at her performance for her first 2 miles, but wish we could find an answer for getting her through the last mile. We've tried several things:
(1) Increasing her basal insulin during her runs. This definitely helps for training runs because her bg's now tend to rise because she's running at a more competitive pace....hence more adrenaline. However increasing her basal insulin levels doesn't work for races. Apparently, her adrenaline output is significantly higher during races - and happens almost exactly at the 13 minute mark, or even 8 minutes if the temperature outside is greater than 75 degrees.
(2) We've tried giving her insulin 30 minutes prior to the race that would be the equivalent to match her adrenaline surge. For example, if her bg's rises to 300 during a race and her best running bg's is around 100, we'd give her enough insulin to cover the 200 point surge based on her insulin to carb correction factor. This didn't work either. However it was the closest option to getting her beyond the 2 mile point. It would get her to the 2.5 mile point and the rest is ...unfortunately not good. Her Bg's would rise high and prevent a good finish.
She has one more year of Cross Country running to do in high school. Her coaches swear by the fact that she's scholarship material however not if her diabetes continues to affect her runs.
If there is anyone out there that has conquered the way to run a 3.1 race with Type 1 diabetes, please share it with us. At this point, she's discouraged and unsure whether she will compete next year. She's not a quitter. She ran 14 races this past year ending every last one in pain....but she still kept coming back, and back again.
Cross Country (XC) Mom