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High Flying.

I hate running.  So much that I have a Spotify playlist dedicated to my disdain for it.  (The songs are quality, though.  I posted a link on Twitter to the disastrous tunes that keep me upright for 45 minutes.)  But it's a new part of my daily workout regimen, and it's extremely effective at dropping my blood sugar like a rock.  I see my numbers tumble from 180 mg/dL to 80 mg/dL regularly during workouts (which is prompting me to start experimenting with temporary basal rates and different kinds of foods to help keep from plummeting - oh the math!). 

So yeah.  It's a new kind of exercise that's taxing my body in a new, positive way.

But giving running a go when my blood sugar is high?  Holy crap, that's a rotten way to start a workout.

There's something about a high blood sugar that makes my body feel weighted down, like I'm wearing a chain mail suit (not one of those "Forward this or a rabid snail will imbed itself in your ear!" kinds of chain mail - I mean the legit, medieval kind).  Or that I'm exercising with weighted boots on.  Even when ketones aren't present (and I always check for them if I'm over 240 and heading to the gym), high blood sugars make slogging through a workout akin to traipsing through waist-high snow drifts.  It's crappy.

What amazes me is when I feel strongest while working out.  Every time I feel powerful, or strong, or jacked up on exercise endorphins, I usually click on my Dexcom and see a blood sugar around 100 mg/dL.  It's amazing how good I feel when my blood sugar is completely in range.  (My favorite workout number is 90 mg/dL, but the trouble is, it doesn't last very long in that range.) 

"Is this what normal feels like, all the time, for you?"  I've asked Chris, trying to explain how awesome a workout feels for those moments when I'm hovering around 100 mg/dL.  He can't answer, because he has no idea what steep blood sugar fluctuations feel like.

NO WAY did I go on this ride. I stood on the ground and photographed it from the safety of my fear bubble.

I don't often have envy for those who produce their own insulin, but I have be honest:  Sometimes I'm downright jealous of people who don't know what it's like to fly so high while working out.  I'd love to know how fast, and how far, I could go with 90 mg/dL as my norm.

But those brief moments of envy pass quickly, as I work harder to prove that I can go faster and further, fueled by determination ... even in a chain mail suit.


When Briley was in grade school, an Artist in Residence stayed at our house while "creating" at her school. He had Type 1 diabetes, and was in his early 20's. Barry and I asked him many questions about what highs and lows felt like, how a low that did not quit affected him, etc. We just had no idea what diabetes felt like, and Briley being young when diagnosed, did not know there would be a difference from what our bodies felt like. He also told us, no one had asked him any of this before. He had not previously verbalized what highs and lows feel like. It was a long talk into the night and quite wonderful for the 3 of us.

Relevant :)

T1D runner here as well. Been trying to work out the formula to stay in range during a run for years with varying results.

I run a lot, and my blood sugars used to drop like a rock, but they don't anymore because my body gets used to it. I don't know what my best blood sugar is, but I always like to start above 150. If it is really high, I take a small correction and slog through. When I finished my first half marathon, I was at 400. I was just the stress of the race. I always wonder how much better, I could have done and can do without the blood sugar issues. I now can run up to 10 miles without blood sugar problems. I start eating around every 7 miles or so, if I am going futher then 10. Racing is hard because the stress of the race always makes my blood sugar different. So I have race day blood sugar management and training blood sugar management. My road bike still drops my blood sugars like a rock (except while racing).

Thanks for your comment, Cynthia. (Briley is AWESOME, by the way.)

Jeff - Thank you for the link! I'm checking that out now.

Todd - I'm hoping that the more my body adjusts to the new schedule, I'll see things even out a bit. It's only been two and a half weeks, so I know I have a long way to go in making this feel "normal." :)

Hey Kerri! Great post! There's actually quite a bit of research from the last few years, and though we all know there's no singular recipe or cookbook answer...

- when you're exercising and you bg's go sub 100, you're starting to "bonk", but it's recoverable.
- when bg's get to 80 and below, it's a true performance inhibiting bonk.
- athletic activity bg ranges most often associated with optimal performance (aka faster, higher, stronger) fall in between 120 and 160.
- TT1 has data from d and non-d athletes... even the non-d's have bg's that are usually above 100 when their performances are at peak.

Keep experimenting. Your formula of carbs vs IOB-basal vs length of workout will be your own. And don't be surprised if it changes based on length of workout and as your fitness improves.

Lastly... don't skip getting post workout snack, even if it's small. It'll recharge those glyco stores and really does help prevent lows hours afterwards (well, not incorrect bolus dosing for meals necessarily, but typical lows induced by the exercise = yes).

You all should really stick your heads into Sports Central @ FFL... we have these conversations daily! Or, we could converse in the evening (though we both know how we apparently are in person!)

Hey I know where that picture came from.

That is all.

This is so interesting to me and it's also interesting that I just read Kim's blog about being low. Both ends of the spectrum! Chain mail and parachutes.

I guess this could explain why there are times when I exercise that it feels as if I'm dragging along. Thinking about it from your perspective as someone who uses insulin, I will never again complain...ever. I admire how you just do it.

I hear ya! So much about a workout, particularly running, is affected by blood sugar. When it's in range I run so well that I wonder what kind of half marathon times I could get if I didn't have to contend with the ups and downs, the mid-race blood sugar checks and the running belt full of stuff I have to carry with me...just in case. That's when I get jealous of the muggles too.

I've noticed the same "almost euphoric" feeling when my sugars are slowly dropping from the 120's through the 80's or so.

It only seems to happen if the drop is gradual, and due to exercise/activity and not insulin induced. I feel much more friendly/outgoing, and laugh/joke a lot. Sometimes I can even use it as a pre-indicator that I'm going to need to find some carbs soon before testing my actual sugar.

It's interesting/fun to hear other PWD share the same odd side-effects at times.

I never run. Unless you count ellipicall-ing as running. But I do however envy those who produce their own insulin bigtime when it comes to exercise. Not even because of how they feel or we feel. But because they can do so at their own will. Without having to worry about current, future and past BG, insulin on board and all that jazz.

I have to say, if I could a day off of diabetes, I would EXERCISE all day long. Go for a run, a hike and a long long swim. How great would that be, to not have to worry that your sugars dropping and your out in the middle of no where with no sugar available!!
I was only diagnosed Type 1 4 years ago but already I forget the freedom of taking a hike without having a pack full of stuff to bring.
I do sometimes get jealous of people that don't have to time their workouts with IOB, snacks, turning down basals.
One day!!! Hopefully soon :) (I'm having a good BS day. Otherwise I'd say there will never be a cure.)

I am with you on the envy! More and more I am wondering, "What would it be like to just exercise, without eating before hand and exercising during? What would it be like to exercise without planning for the whole day so that blood sugars are good-to-go?" It boggles my mind just to imagine.

I found that, for the first week or so after I change my exercise routine, my blood sugars drop while I exercise and that after that, they even out. Then again, I'm on the treadmill for an hour and 40 min 6 days a week, so that's probably why it takes less time.

I have also found that how I feel has very little to do with my blood sugar and almost everything to do with how long I've been on. The first 20 minutes or so are pure torture (I hate exercise) and then what I'm guessing is the endorphin high kicks in and I'm fine for the rest of the time. I breathe better, my legs don't hurt, and when I have them, my blisters don't really hurt, either (still trying to decide which pair of sneakers did THAT).

There are some days (or months, especially when I'm in school) when the blood sugar waves really make me forget what "normal" feels like. It's not like I feel sick all of the time, it's just that I don't feel...good, I guess? Like there's something off and always has been and always will be.

I've also learned about exercise that if I eat a small snack right before I go on, then I watch my (very, VERY) small peak while I'm on the treadmill and then after that I stabilize. My body seems to like 2-3 Oreos...

I always feel lows when my rate of BG drop is very fast (steep?)When it drops slowly and creeps up on me, I don't usually feel them until I am below 60.

Kerri, why did you have to mention the rabid snail invading your ear? I have been having an ear ache for several days. I will probably have night mares tonight about rabid snails! ....LOL!!

Shoot. I've been fantasizing about my T1 child getting into distance running. I love running. My husband hates running. The child is more like me in appearance and personality, so I was hoping...and I had been assuming running would be a good choice for a diabetic person--especially running on a cross-country team.

You're making me realize there's no magical activity that's going to make his BG life easier. It's painful! But necessary.

I usually feel very very happy when I run, but some days I feel the chain mail feeling. You know how most people/Oprah say/s "No matter how much I don't feel like running, I'm always so glad once I get started/once it's over." When I feel the chain mail and I run, I feel nothing but regret for running. I do not feel happy it's over. I just feel terrible all over and like I wish I'd never messed up my hair. I'm going to give myself a finger prick next time I'm wearing chain mail to see if I'm highish.

You are so right! I'm a softball pitcher and I find that I preform best at around 115. Luckily it didn't take long to figure out the correct basal rate to use during a game...if I can only remember to put it on ahead

Great post! I was only diagnosed 11 months ago at the age of 32 and prior to that ran nearly every day. Have run 5 marathons and well over 30 halfs. I love it. Since being diagnosed I am getting back at it, but it adds difficulty to it. If my BS gets into that sweet spot I feel just like I used to, it is a wonderful feeling!

My husband & myself (type 1 x's 29 years) are both marathon runners. We are currently training for our 5th & I feel so awful running while high! He has no idea how thick my blood feels & how tired I get but I usually get regulated as the run goes on. On long runs I always run with a SPI belt to keep my meter & supplies and every couple miles I will do a "walk break" to check my blood sugars. It works, I won't ever let diabetes keep me from doing what I want, it might be a little harder but I keep going.

Good Call, Kerri. Well put... I seem to be at my best around 130 to 190. My Endo told me that is becasue this is how my BODY PERCIEVES it to BE NORMAL. As my A1C's come back around a 6.5-7.02. Thus, I feel my best around 155! It makes sense, yes.?.

I feel so awful doing cardio while high, I won't even try if I'm over 180.

For me, I have good 20 minutes before my BG starts to drop. I try to mediate that drop by changing up my basal rates and protein consumption (prior to workout). Sometimes I can take all the variables and come up with a good workout, other times, I just have those 20 minutes.

I have those "is this how you feel all the time?" moments with I'm 90 too. Those are some of the best moments.

I'm a walker, not a runner, but there have been times when I have suddenly bottomed out .
There are 2 neighbors who said I could call any time if I need them to drive me back home, and, as much as I hate to bother them, I have had to swallow my pride (along with the glucose tabs) and accept their offer.
It is great if you have people like that in your life, just in case

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