Thursday, June 16, 2011

Training for a Marathon with Diabetes

Exercise and diabetes should go hand in hand because physical activity can greatly improve blood sugar control. When you increase the level of exercise to 26.2 miles this balance may become more delicate.

Every diabetic is different and what works well for one person may not be the best option for someone else, but one thing is certain, running a marathon with diabetes takes planning. By carefully preparing for your marathon training regime and race you can help eliminate the odds that complications will arise.

The following tips will help you train for and complete a safe first marathon:

1. Define your marathon objective

  • How soon do you want to run a marathon? Ideally you have been running for a year or more before attempting a marathon, but if you give yourself adequate time to train other time frames are possible.
  • Which marathon do you want to run? Consider key factors such as climate, elevation and time of race to make sure you pick the perfect marathon for you.
  • What is your goal time? Most marathon runners don’t try to target any specific finish time for their first marathon. If you do establish a goal time, keep it broad and understand that completing the marathon is a big accomplishment in itself.
  • Percentage walk vs. run? Decide if you want to walk the whole marathon, walk and run the marathon, run the whole marathon or employ a strategy such as taking a one minute walking break at each mile mark.

2. Get everything you need to start properly training

  • Athletic shoes that give you the proper support you need. Purchasing specific diabetic footwear may help alleviate the foot pain and discomfort commonly experienced by those with diabetes. Athletic shoes made for diabetics provide optimal support for the arch, heel and ankle and allow for extra room so that orthotic inserts can be worn in them.
  • Running clothes that are quick drying and chafe free. Look for moisture control fabrics that fit comfortably and can be easily layered if needed.
  • If you have previously injured yourself or are experiencing any pain and soreness, invest in a brace or support to promote healing and provide relief.
  • Watch with a stopwatch function to track your time and training intervals.
  • Water carrier belt to make sure you stay hydrated all race.
  • Fanny pack with insulin, testing meter, test strips, pokers, sugar tablets, snacks and energy gels.
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses to protect against the sun.
  • Various energy drinks, bars, and gels to keep energy and blood sugar stable.

3. Consume a proper diet for marathon training and running

  • An hour before you run eat a light meal that is high in carbohydrates with a low glycemic index such as banana or oatmeal.
  • Eat on any runs that last longer than an hour to make sure you consume roughly 100-200 calories an hour.
  • Eat something high in carbohydrates within 15 minutes of finishing your run and within two hours after running eat a meal with 25% protein and 75% carbohydrate.
  • Don’t forget to drink more water than usual!

4. Adjust your insulin regime if needed

  • It depends on each person and what their current insulin regime is, but some adjustment may be needed as you increase mileage. If you currently are on a twice daily 30-70 biphasic insulin mix you will need to change your regime to have the flexibility for different levels of energy expenditure and food intake.
  • Speak to your physician about the correct insulin regime for you and remember to adjust for high energy snacks taken after exercise. A suggested dose of 2 unites of insulin per 15 grams of carbohydrates eaten in a good starting point.
  • Test, test, test. Check your blood sugar level as often as every 20 minutes.

5. Stretch and nurture your body

  • Flexibility is a part of strength so take some time each day to stretch in order to become more flexible and avoid injuries. Make sure to stretch gently and on warmed-up muscles. A great way to stretch and increase flexibility is by enrolling in a yoga class at your local studio.
  • Hot & Cold Therapy is a great way to nurture your body and tend to your sore muscles. Hot and cold therapy systems, active wraps and moist heat pads are all crucial to the healing process post long run and will help treat pain, inflammation and swelling.

Following these tips can help you carefully complete your first marathon. Have fun!

About MMAR Medical Group: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a wholesale distributor of comfort footwear offering a wide selection of shoes for diabetics as well as custom made orthotics. Please visit for more information.

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