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Running out of fuel during races

Discussion in 'Fitness, Exercise and Sport' started by MarcusS, Sep 23, 2017.

  1. MarcusS

    MarcusS Type 1 · Newbie

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    I'm a keen hill runner and have been finding it difficult to race in hill races lasting over an hour, even with extensive long runs in training. I struggle, as it seems I run out of glycogen and haven't been able to replace/maintain it during a race. I have tried using the lowest dose of insulin I can and even no fast acting insulin at all but my sugar levels drop too far and cause a drastic drop in pace. I have tried to see if using gels and drinks to maintain blood glucose levels during races but nothing seems to work predictably. Hypos only become a problem during races and can be managed during training runs. This only happens in hill races as running road races doesn't cause the same problems.
    How can a diabetic runner absorb glucose during a race, without risking a hypo?
  2. therower

    therower Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Hi @MarcusS . I'm going to tag @catapillar . Not 100% sure but she may be able to offer something.
  3. catapillar

    catapillar Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Hi @MarcusS im not really clear from what you've posted on how you are managing your insulin and blood sugars for a race now?

    What is your blood sugar before a race? Will you have avoided hypos in the few days before and day of a race? Will you have avoided exercise that would deplete glucose in the liver in the few days before a race?

    Are you on a pump? In which case you might want to reduce TBR for the race, or suspend it. Or are you on mdi? Which basal are you using? Only really levemir is flexible enough to accommodate a reduced doseage for the day of activity.

    Great that you are running with no active insulin on board. Are you having unbolused for carbs before a run?

    A 1-2 hour run shouldn't exhaust the glucose in your liver and muscles. If it does, you're going to have to look at better reducing pre run insulin and /or taking on carbs pre and during a run.
  4. Ambersilva

    Ambersilva Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Surely, if there is minimum insulin on board, that is the problem. We need the insulin to allow the glucose to enter the cells and thus provide energy. No amount of topping up with gels will provide energy without adequate insulin in your system. So with more energy providing foods in the hours before the race as well as glucose top ups during the race covered with adequate insulin may be the solution.
  5. MangosteenElbow

    MangosteenElbow Type 1 · Member

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    The hill running aspect makes a huge difference compared with road or any relatively flat racing.

    The difference lies in the energy demands of physically moving your legs in a greater range of motion, higher work rate throughout the greater range of motion, increasingly low efficiency and all of the physiological processes around that.
    I haven't put that clinically but in essence you have to work a lot harder, with less efficiency so you need much more energy, sooner and faster, with less performance output.

    It's not linear. Don't expect simple adjustments by additions (of carbs, insulin).

    Hill, mountain or trail running, orienteering and xc skiing have the confounding factors of high uncertainty. They are much harder to plan for precisely. These sports highlight the advantages of planning, strategy, recording, analysis and adjustment.
    Looking for a universal formula (from posters) is futile.

    The published research (on carb dependent athletes, keto adapted athletes and high vs moderate intensity effort) has ignored these sports with sustained vigorous work rate, biomechanically driven high inefficiency (running up hill) and deliberate uncertainty. Their criteria overlook the defining characteristics of your type of event. They confuse intensity with vigour + work rate × declining efficiency.
    The point is that there is no published research durectly helpful on your condition (IDDM) in your type of event (I track many thousands of them) so you really have to accept there is no golden solution already out there.

    If you are carb dependent and you start fully tanked then, under that sustained sub-maximal physical load your liver glycogen stores might last 40 minutes, more or less.

    You can improve your available carb based energy sources by ingesting glucose before and during the race.
    I suggest you experiment with, say, 1/4 of a glucose tablet at planned intervals.
    Without knowing more about you, your fitness and the particular event, it is premature to pretend there are "rules" for you.
    As a starting point, try taking the first 1/4 tablet 15 or 20 minutes after starting.

    Avoid the hype about highly resistant starches. They are interesting, especially for keto adapted endurance athletes in events without the variability and uncertainty of your event.
    Leave them for a few year's time

    Of course, you need to adjust your available insulin. Less long lasting insulin and more rapid acting insulin.
    Easy with a pump. Harder with MDI.
    People try to sell formula (via website services or books). Eminent researchers promote some crude theories.
    You will need to think about it yourself so you understand your own plan and you make adjustments that make sense for you.

    Having experienced your kind of event both carb dependent and keto adapted, the latter is far superior in so many ways. Each to their own journey.

    I stiill use the glucose nibble strategy while keto adapted though it is not to meet your problem of severe glycogen.

    Lastly, you might be overlooking the essential need to train as you compete.
    Some of your training should replicate a hill race (exactly, and also with variable efforts under and over).
    This requires planning in the year but you need to do it for both training your body and for learning to calibrate.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  6. LittleGreyCat

    LittleGreyCat Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Just out of interest, when you run out of energy have you tested your BG to confirm that you are hypo?

    Two theories have been mentioned; you still have glucose in the blood but not enough insulin to get it into your muscles, or your insulin is clearing the glucose too quickly and you aren't taking enough new glucose in.

    To me this has two opposite strategies; decrease or increase insulin.

    So you need to be pretty sure which problem you have.

    From my reading endurance athletes can do better when keto adapted because there is a continuous supply of fuel.
  7. ringi

    ringi Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. nickm

    nickm Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Run on fat??? I don't see any T1 my age who eats keto getting good results in hill, track or road running, orienteering, or XC ski racing. Despite asking many FB groups, not one has been able to point to even a single older T1 where VLC has worked well for these sports. Do you really think that the LC zealots who refuse to let any contrary research be presented at their meetings have any credibility?
    Unlike MangosteenElbow, I now just collect information on high performing T1 athletes over the age of 55. I believe my collection is unequalled. Success at a young age is largely genetically determined, whereas later success is much more strongly related to good lifestyle choices. Strategies for short term athletic success are different from long term success in T1s. Which do you want?
    The original question highlights the deficiencies of all those diabetes sports conferences which never get past Running with T1 101.
    If you think that the training you are doing, and normalizing you bsl are sufficient to optimize your running performance, you are dreaming.
    Learn the details. Look at the research, especially that "overlooked" by endos. You won't find the answers on FB.
    • Like Like x 1
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