Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The first step is the hardest

I didn’t mean for the title to sounds all Cat Stevens like, but I said those words to someone the other day and I’ve inadvertently been singing them to that tune ever since.  All I meant was that getting yourself out of the door in the first place is the worst thing about running.

I went for another run on Monday (6 days since the last run) – same route, same time and I didn’t really feel much pain off the back of it.  I had a bit of an ache in the joint yesterday but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

So obviously I’ve now got a part of me that thinks I can go out and run a few times a week and step it up a level.  I think that the more reserved and cautious part of me is winning and I’ll try for another run on Friday or Saturday instead.

If that goes well I might look at slightly upping the distance but keep the running to once every 4 or 5 days in the short term.  I’ve got one eye on the more rigorous training plans that I’ll need to get into after Christmas but I think I need to take it slowly and possibly revise my strategy for running as I go.

I’m fully convinced that I need a run/walk strategy to get me round all 26 miles, but I suppose the tricky bit is understanding what that ratio will look like.  Obviously I’d like to run as much as possible but I may end up walking a fair amount.  I suppose that will reveal itself as the weeks go on.

I feel like I’ve got a good handle back on my diabetes control now.  I had a check up appointment at the hospital last week and the specialist nurse and I both agreed that things seem to have made a noticeable progression since I last went to see her.

We talked about how difficult it can be when you’re eating out (or eating something where you can’t get a good idea of the carb content of your food).  I think I’ve started to get better at estimating that now which is a real bonus.

It takes away a lot of the guilt regarding “treats” (well, it takes away the diabetes guilt, not the diet guilt).  A couple of cases in point from the last week or so:

  1. My wife and I had both had a pretty long, stressful day last Friday so we decided to get a chinese takeaway.  Whilst I can’t remember the exact figures, I know I managed to keep my blood sugar within normal limits before and after and into the next day.
  2. My parents came over for Sunday lunch and I’d baked a Victoria sponge type cake for dessert (with reduced sugar jam of course).  I managed to get away with a small slice and keep my sugar below 7 which felt like a real achievement

It’s not always that easy of course and to a lot of you, it probably seems crazy to be so pleased about managing a takeaway and a cheeky slice of cake.  And I completely understand that.  I almost feel ridiculous making such a big deal about it, but it does represent a big step for me.  It also means that I don’t have to feel chained to my diet and a small set of meals just to keep my condition in check.

Going back to my tightrope analogy from a few weeks back, I learned something new recently that I’ve never known in 10 years of being diabetic.  1 unit of (fast acting) insulin will reduce your blood sugar by 3mmol on average.  That’s a bit sciency, but if you consider that I’m trying to keep my level between 5 and 7.5, it shows how easy it can be to miscalculate and fall low and need to correct a wobble.  I might talk more about that next time.

Finally, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who reads this.  I know I’m supposed to be talking a lot more about the marathon training and that’s slow going at the moment.  But I’m finding that talking about diabetes for a few paragraphs once a week helps to keep me focussed and determined and so I wanted to say thanks for allowing me that and for taking the time to read it.  I really appreciate it.

As usual, drop me a line on Twitter (@BroomOwl) or to if you fancy getting in touch for a chat about anything (marathon/diabetes related  or not).

Thanks for reading – take care


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Something to write home about

Hello again

Today marked an important step on the long road to London.  I went for a run!!

I say run.  In fairness it was more of run/walk (as advised by the physio) but I still got my running gear on and went out in the wind and the rain and did some running.  And while it was only just over a mile - going out and doing it was psychologically big for me

The route - cheers GoogleI

The question now is whether or not going out was a good idea.  The physio and I agreed it should be if I took it steady.  And I definitely did.  I've got a bit of a dull ache at the moment but I get that from time to time.  I'm not naive enough to think it's unrelated but I'm equally not going to be so pessimistic to think that it will be a problem.  I had a similar pain after each physio appointment so I'm going to continue to focus on the positives.

I won't be doing any more jogging until the weekend now (at the earliest) so hopefully I can continue with the exercises to loosen the joint and things will get gradually easier.

Diet-wise I've been plodding along.  It's been one of those funny weeks where we've had friends visiting and things so I've not been able to be as strict as I normally would be (I even chanced a sliver of lemon meringue pie at my mum's the other night) but I've been steadfastly sticking to the salads during the week.

I haven't weighed myself yet but I imagine I'll be hovering around where I have been for the last two weeks.  I'm feeling good and I think that's one of the most important things to consider.  I'll lose more weight as I gradually increase the training over the next few months.

Finally, a quick diabetes update.  Things are feeling like they're returning to normal now.  Blood sugar levels are generally in the 4-7 area although the feeling of being on a tightrope is still there.  Even after all these years I'm still amazed by how even slight changes in routine can have such an affect on my blood sugar levels.

I sometimes get the feeling that I'll never be able to control that mystery factor  and every now and again, I'll get an unexpected reading.  I think that's just part of my life and not panicking when it happens is the best thing I can do.

I've got a follow up appointment with the diabetes nurse on Friday morning.  I've probably not done everything she asked me to do but I think it's difficult to try and prescribe a method of living your life to someone else.  But perhaps that's for another blog.

If you fancy a chat then you can find me on Twitter (@BroomOwl) or drop me a mail on You'll be pleased to hear that BlackBerry have sorted themselves out so I'll have no problems getting back to you.

Thanks for reading - I know a lot of you make the effort to have a look and I really do appreciate it.

Take care


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Walking a tightrope

The title of this post relates to an idea I’d had a few days ago that I thought might be interesting to talk about.  Since then a few things have happened so this may turn out to be a ‘double feature’ blog post.  I’ll do my best to be succinct where possible.

It struck me recently that being diabetic is very much like walking a tightrope.  I talked briefly about blood sugar levels last time and since then I’ve been giving it a fair bit of thought.

I’ve noticed that since I came back from holiday that even the slightest miscalculation with my insulin dose would lead to a high blood sugar reading which has made me feel like I’m wobbling (to continue the analogy).  I think I’d perhaps forgotten how much hard work it was to really stay on top of the condition and as soon as the wobbles crept back in I started to feel angry and frustrated.  Of course that doesn’t help and I think over the last 48 hours or so, I feel like I’ve regained the control I had pre-Las Vegas.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so na├»ve about how long it would take to readjust my diet, insulin and blood sugar control (even after just 5 days away).  I think the tightrope analogy works because adjusting from a minor blip (blood being 9.2mmol when you’re aiming for 7.5 say) is an easier adjustment than trying to correct yourself from a real wobble (e.g. 14mmol).  You end up over or under-compensating and it takes a lot more resolve to stay balanced.

I’ve been a bit harsh on my diet as a result of that this week.  I did some baking with my daughter last weekend, getting her to help make some wholemeal scones.  We used a rabbit shaped cutter which kept her interested but now they have to be referred to as ‘bunny cakes’.

I treated myself to a couple of these after my stir fry the other night and ended up with the 14mmol reading I talked about above which shocked me quite a bit.  As a result I’ve cut down on carbs more than I already had done.  I still have my stir fry, but I’ll either have noodles with it or I’ll have a bunny-cake afterwards – not both. 

I think part of that dietary strictness has evolved from last week’s lack of weight loss which disappointed me more than I probably let on.  I’ve also been feeling ‘fat’ this week too (not helped by a 3 day weekend and a pie at football on Saturday) so I’ve really been trying to reign in unnecessary calories.

Moving away from the diabetes/diet and into the training, I had physio again on Tuesday and I’m happy to be able to report that it’s reasonably good news.

She was pleased that I’ve had no real discomfort in my foot for the last two and a bit weeks (save the time spent flying) and apparently the movement in the joint is better than it was when I first went back in August.

We then had a fairly frank chat about training and she’s advised me to up my swimming a bit for the next few weeks but then I should be OK to start some light run/walk training!  This is obviously good news although I’m mindful of being in this position 12 months ago so I’ll definitely be taking it steady.

For those of you who haven’t done the London Marathon (and I’m not totally sure of my reader demographic yet so forgive me), what happens when you get a place is that they send you a magazine with lots of tips and advice, including example training plans based on your target.

The most basic one is “If your goal is just to get to the finish line”.  To be honest, my immediate goal is just to get to the start line but in any case, that’s the plan I’m going for.  Since the injury, I’ve revised my ambitions for the marathon quite a bit.  I’d always wanted to beat my dad’s time and my sister’s time but I think that’s beyond me now.  Getting round will be more than enough for me.

At any rate, the plan they give you is a 13 week training plan that you should have completed about 4 weeks before marathon day (April 22nd 2012).  But that plan assumes you can do 30 minutes of easy running, with the odd walk break in there if you need it, and suggests a 4-8 week “base training” programme before you jump into the main plan.  A quick bit of calendar-maths means that I’d need to start that 8 week base programme in 2 weeks time so the physio’s advice was welcomed with open arms.

So all in all, it’s looking cautiously positive.  No more formal physio for the time being – just a call in a month to see how things are going.

I’ve talked a lot today so I’ll end it there I think.  Thanks for sticking with it all the way to the end.

As always, if you want to get in touch for a chat about the themes of this blog or anything else, then you can always drop me a line on or find me on Twitter (@BroomOwl).  Sadly I’m one of the ‘millions’ being affected by the BlackBerry problems (though I’m in the minority that aren’t claiming it to be life-threatening) so my online life is a bit limited at the moment so if you do get in touch, and I take a while to get back to you, I’m not ignoring you, I probably just haven’t got your message.

Thanks for reading


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Looking forward

Hello – thanks for stopping by.

First of all – apologies I’ve not posted for a couple of weeks.  Obviously being on holiday was a factor in that, and I wanted to make sure I had something meaningful to talk about this time.

I suppose the immediate good news is that I’ve not really felt any pain in my foot for a couple of weeks now (the most notable exception being on the flight home).  I think that’s quite a good sign really, especially when you consider the amount of walking I did while I was away.

I’ve also been swimming another couple of times this week which is quite handy.  It’s good to get the exercise and it gives me time to focus on what this is all about.

I’m not seeing the physio again until next Tuesday (11th) but I’ve got some more physical exercises to do in the interim (think jumping up and down holding a football…) so hopefully I’ll get the go ahead to run somewhere next time!

I got my marathon acceptance letter and magazine through the post while I was away. I’ve not opened it yet as I don’t want to start getting ahead of myself by looking at all the training plans and reading all the articles about how hard it’s going to be - I’ve got a fairly good idea of that already…

The most difficult thing this last week or so has been getting my blood sugar back to some semblance of normalcy.  I was keeping an eye on it while I was in Las Vegas, but didn’t test it as often as I would at home.  As I may have posted before, trying to maintain a correct blood sugar level if you eat out for one meal is difficult, so doing it for a week is nigh on impossible.  Even the advice you get in clinic is “use your best guess” when eating out.

Having recovered from crippling jet lag by drinking an unhealthy amount of caffeine and sugar, I thought it would be easy to correct my sugar levels over the weekend and be back on track immediately.  It’s not been quite that straightforward but I think I’ve just about got a handle on it again.  I’m probably 1 to 1.5 mmol above where I’d like to be but nothing too concerning. (Educational segue – blood sugar levels should be around 4.5 to 7.5mmols (or so I was always told) and I try to average about 6 ish.  I’ve been around the 7.5 to 8.5mmol level for the last few days but that’s not too bad – I’m probably being harsh on myself).

Anyone who follows me on Twitter may have also spotted that I dipped into the low end of the blood sugar spectrum on Monday night just as I got to Hillsborough Leisure Centre.  Fortunately I managed to find a few rogue jelly sweets in my bag and got through it OK.  I’ve also been waking up early (4am) feeling a bit on the low side these last few days, but I’m managing to get back to sleep until my alarm goes off.

I think it’s a pretty natural part of adjusting from eating a very different diet for a week (not to mention eating at irregular times and flying messing with my insulin doses) so I’m fairly happy that things are back under control.

Weight wise, I’m still at 198lbs.  I’m tempted to feel bad about that and hammer my diet even more but the truth is I eat so few calories for 5 out of 7 days I can’t.  Plus I know being on holiday affected my weight so I think I just need to continue doing what I’ve been doing and I’ll continue to lose it.

I’ll post an update next week to let you know how the exercises have gone, what the physio says and whether or not I can be trusted to run even just a mile or so.

As always, thanks for reading.  At the risk of sounding like a teen drama series, if you want to get in touch for a chat about the themes of this blog, then you can always drop me a line on or find me on Twitter (@BroomOwl).  Of course if you want to chat about something else, that’s equally welcomed and encouraged.

Take care