Lately I have been doing some runs with a friend that are longer than my average 5 mile loop. These have averaged between 10 and 14 miles. The exercise has been feeling great. But I find it trickier to manage my blood sugar for runs of this length.
Another thing to consider is managing energy level in addition to blood sugar level. Obviously this much exercise will drop blood sugar level. But in my experience, my usual method of lowering insulin rates before and/or during the run is not as effective.
Last week on a 10.6 mile run, I needed to eat a fruit bar about 5 miles in after sensing a low blood sugar. Yesterday, I ate a Gu energy gel (chocolate flavor containing 20g of carbs) about 7 miles into a 13.4 mile run. This gave me both a nice energy boost and kept my blood sugar level through until the end.
Part of the challenge yesterday was that my blood sugar was unexpectedly high when I woke up (~240). I took 1 extra unit of insulin. If I wasn’t about to go out on a run, I probably would have taken 3-4 extra units. But if my blood sugar had been fine, I would have taken 1-1.5 units less before a run.
These situations are certainly tricky. When blood sugar levels are that high, you feel sluggish. That often means that the first 30-60 minutes of the run is not that much fun. I have run two marathons in the past and both times my blood sugar spiked before heading out. Part of it was nerves (feeling anxious can send your blood sugar up) and part of it was from taking too little insulin with food before the start.
The timing of meals before the run seem to be just as important as how much you dial up or down. This week, I ate as close to the start of the run as possible. I wanted to minimize the expected rise in blood sugar level with the food.
I’m enjoying a weekly run in this distance range and hope to continue with it. I have ordered some energy gels and am going to experiment more with the timing of them during runs. I think that about the 50-60 minute mark is a good time. I will see if this also good at keeping my blood sugars in range as well.