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Training for Triathlon with Type 1 Diabetes

Hi I am currently training for my first half ironman in June of next year, I am a type 1 diabetic and wondering if anyone has any tips for training or on actual race day in terms of diet and blood sugar control.  I have done a few sprint distance raes and had no issues, I'm just a little worried the amount of training may cause problems, but i'm very determined to complete race


  • Hi Tracy2,

    I am T2 and doing the same but can't comment on the needs of a T1, there is however lots of information on the Diabetes.co.uk website in the Forums, the members are really helpful and I am sure you will find an experienced T1 athlete on there who will be able to provide support and guidance.

    Good luck by the way I am certain you will achieve an awesome race!


  • Hi Tracy2

    I agree with Monty 1967 about Diabetes UK, a lot of profesional athletes on there with type 1. My son has had type 1 since he was 6 years old and has just started training and is hoping to do the Blenheim Palace Sprint with me next year.

    Very best of luck with the training and the race. 


  • Contact me and I'm sure I can help!! 


    Contact me at: https://www.facebook.com/PerformanceScienceNutrition?ref=bookmarks

  • Hi Tracy

    Good news is a close friend of mine who recently smashed out an amazing Ironman Lanzerote time also has Type 1 Diabetes. She has many Ironman races ticked off. I endeavor to find out her coping strategies and some tips for you very soon. She leaves people for dead and trains harder than most people. So its good news.....I'll just find out how.

    Good luck with the road to ironman....Its a good journey

  • Hi Tracy

    So the below is how a friend of mine manages to smash out excellent times in Ironman Lanzerote. The usual disclaimers about seeing your own doctor if medical advice is needed as 220triathlon, my source and obviously myself as well are not offering medical advice. I hope this helps...

    "Hi Dave. Not really sure what you want so I'll put together a few tried and tested tips and you'll just have to let me know if you have any more questions.


    I'm presuming that most athletes who take on triathlon have had a dabble in other sports previously so should have a fairly good idea of how their diabetes behaves with exercise.


    My diabetes behaves in different ways depending on the intensity of the exercise.


    Firstly I always know my blood sugar prior to any sport. If I am going to do intense stuff like a hard fast run, TT on the bike or interval work, basically anything short and hard, I generally don't need to worry about my sugars dropping. In fact they normally go up during this kind of exercise. Wont bore you with the medical details but its the body's reaction to intense physical demands. Everybodys body does it but those with diabetes cant release insulin naturally in order to respond to the high sugars.


    If I am doing longer endurance zone 2 heart rate stuff my sugars generally drop continually.


    I take my basal (long acting) insulin the night before and take my usual amount of insulin with my pre work out meal (usually breakfast).

    During long rides I usually take at least 10g of carb per hour without the need to take extra fast acting insulin. This stops my sugars dropping but also doesn't take them too high.

    Exercise makes me more insulin sensitive so that my muscles can take up the sugars easier than when i'm sedentary.


    Like I said earlier this is tried and tested and I now know how my body reacts to exercise. The secret is in the predictability of your own body's reaction.


    Post exercise I normally go back to injecting my usual regime of 1unit of insulin for 10g of carbohydrate but always have to bear in mind that when I've done a big/long or particularly hard session resulting in DOMS I can be more prone to hypos (low sugars).

    Fatigued muscles take up more sugar and faster so I have to be a little more cautious.


    Let me know if you have any actual questions about Diabetes in general or if I haven't answered any points you had in mind.


    Hope this helps a little?????" 

    This regime has aided my legend of a friend to not just finish her latest Ironman, but smash it. She is now known as Lady Lanzerote as she owned the course. I do hope this helps but obviously its about knowing your own body and a check with your doctor is highly advised before starting out. However it is very doable

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