Tuesday, 19 August 2014


Another week down and the miles are stacking up now.  I’ve now covered over 300 miles this year which is quite satisfying.  You may remember from a previous post that I covered 450 miles throughout all of 2013 and I was hoping to make 600 miles for 2014.  Whilst I might only have just gone over halfway to that target (with almost two thirds of the year gone), I think I’ll make 600 comfortably by New Year’s Eve.


It’d been a slightly mixed week with my first “long” run of the training now behind me.  It probably went about as well as I’d expected – a quick first 6 miles followed by a slower return home giving me an average pace of10:22 per mile.  It’s easy to pick out the negatives (the return was a lot slower than I would have liked) and the positives (that overall pace would get me a 4:30 marathon time) but I think I’m just content to have managed 12 miles without injury.   I’ve got some longer distances ahead of me over the next 8 weeks, including 16, 18, 20 and 22 miles before the race so drawing on the positives is going to be key over the next couple of months.


This week’s training began yesterday with (a little over) 4 miles.  It felt quite slow and broken as I couldn’t seemed to find a rhythm or any power in my legs (despite 3 days off from running) but actually it was actually better than I thought.  Perhaps I’ve been setting some higher (and slightly unrealistic) expectations of myself recently and I need to look at setting a reasonable pace and trying to stick to it for longer distances.  Saturday will be a 14 mile run – my longest of 2014 so that will be a good opportunity to get some proper race practice.


In more exciting news, my weekly dual with the bathroom scales showed I’d dropped to my lowest weight of 2014 which is really encouraging.  Again, 188lbs is possibly not something you’d want to shout from the rooftops (just an internet blog…) it’s good to see that there’s another payoff to dieting and running.  A quick check of a BMI calculator says I’m still overweight which I knew and that really to have a “healthy” BMI score, I’d need to lose over another stone.  I’m fairly sure that’s ambitious and really unsustainable in the long term but I’m quite happy to see where my reduced calorie diet and exercise program will take me.


A word on food and nutrition before I finish.  Having Type 1 diabetes means I fixate on food a lot more than a lot of other people I know.  My daily life is a series of maths problems regarding carbohydrate content, insulin doses and blood glucose levels.  I suppose in some ways, that makes dieting easier as I’m always looking at food labels before I eat anyway – now I’m just checking calorie content as well as carbs.  I’m currently on a diet of 1200 net calories a day which is about as fun and restrictive as it sounds.  But it does mean I’m losing some weight and I’m making more healthy decisions around what I eat.


Work days are all fairly similar – salad for lunch with some oatcakes for low GI carbs to keep me going.  My evening meal is usually grilled  fish or white meat with some green vegetables and either wholemeal bread on rest days (to keep a slow release of energy) or some pasta after running (to quickly replenish the energy I’ve used from exercising).  I know as I start really picking up the distance that 1200 calories a day just isn’t going to be practical, but by then I’m hoping I’ll be at a lower weight that I can sustain with more food on a daily basis.  But for the time being, this diet focuses me on making sensible, healthy choices with what I eat and it seems to be working well for my overall health and wellbeing.


As usual, a final mention of my fundraising page.  I’ve raised £160 so far against a target of £1,000 for the year.  I’m incredibly grateful to all those who have generously parted with their hard earned money to donate to Diabetes UK.  Raising £1,000 would mean that Diabetes UK could train 20 risk-assessment volunteers who work at Lifestyle roadshows, connecting with some of the 7 million people at risk of Type 2 diabetes and helping them to make sensible diet and lifestyle choices to reduce their risk of getting diabetes in the future.      Prescribing is the second highest area of spend in the NHS (after staffing costs) and in 2013-4, diabetes prescribing accounted for almost 10% of that cost (up from 6.6% in 2005-6).  Helping to educate people at risk will not only make their lives better in the long run, but will go some way to reducing the huge strain that diabetes places on the NHS.


If you can spare anything at all, please click on the link to the fundraising page and donate, or test BROO81 £5 to 70070 to donate via text.



Sunday, 10 August 2014


The most intense training week I've probably ever had is finally behind me...and I actually feel pretty good about it.

If you remember from last week, I was planning on 2, 3, 4 and 5 mile runs this week, using the shorter ones to try and have some actual speed and the longer ones to translate that into some pace over more miles.

Family and charity commitments over the next week or so meant I actually had to pull one of Week 4's runs forward into this week so I had an additional 6 mile effort in there too, making it 20 miles for two consecutive weeks which is something to be pretty proud of!

To say I've done 5 runs in 7 days (something I've never attempted before) I feel pretty good and my times have reflected that.   My average pace across the last 20 miles is 9:26 minute miles compared with an average of 10:13 for the previous week.

I know for most people, they aren't anything amazing to write home about (and I look at others on Twitter who are training for the same race and they're a lot faster).  The one thing about marathon running is that for 99% of people entering you're only really racing yourself - it doesn't matter how everyone else does so I'm trying not to pay too much attention to other people and just focus on doing what I'm doing.

I talked last time about how conditions are something you need to bear in mind when running and managing your diabetes.  This week the weather has given me a fair few challenges, varying between warm sunshine and monsoon rain.  Fortunately I've managed to take most of that in my stride (pun unintended).

The most difficult run this week was the 6 miler this morning (Sunday).  Having been out four times already meant I was pretty tired but I'd had one of those nights with my diabetes that meant it was all the more difficult to motivate myself to get going.  I'd replaced my cannula just before bed as the adhesive had lost its usefulness but this is something you should generally avoid because if you put the new one in wrong and you don't get insulin properly, it can be pretty catastrophic and you're unlikely to know during the night.

For some reason I still don't understand, the new one only lasted about 20 minutes so I was still up at nearly midnight putting a third cannula in (and sticking it down with surgical tape to be certain).  To make sure I was going to be OK, I set an alarm for 1:30am to get up and check my blood glucose (which was fortunately OK).  I then had a hypo at 5:30am so I was up again to eat and raise my blood before I set off to run.  That's a fairly good (but thankfully rare) example of a diabetes rollercoaster - highs and lows and the physical strain of dealing with everything in between too.

Thankfully I managed to get round in a pretty decent time and made it home in the rain before it properly bucketed it down.

Next week is relatively easy, two runs and some non-impact/strength work. I'll be doing 5 miles tomorrow (Monday) and then 12 miles on Thursday after work.  That definitely won't be fun as I'm not a huge fan of doing my long runs midweek, but needs must this time.  The distances are going to start getting bigger pretty quickly now so the next 6 weeks are crucial now.

I'll finish, as always, with a mention of the fantastic work that Diabetes UK do and why I'm raising money for them.  Living with diabetes isn't an easy thing to do a lot of the time.  Having a self managed chronic illness  takes a lot out you and knowing there's someone there who can support you is an incredible help.  Diabetes UK offer that help and support to millions of people like me who need it and to say it makes actually living life easier is a huge understatement.  If you can spare anything to help me reach my £1,000 target for 2014, then please visit http:www.justgiving.com/broomhead - I'm incredibly grateful for your support.


Monday, 4 August 2014

Peas in a pod

So that’s week two out of the way and my first 20 mile week since late January/early Feb.  As usual, it had its ups and downs with a pretty good 5 miler followed up by a pretty atrocious one, all rounded off with an average 10 mile run at the weekend.


While I was out and about, it struck me how many similarities there are between running and having diabetes:


·         They’re both unpredictable.  Take my two 5 mile runs.  The first was excellent – one of the fastest I’ve done in months, and my 7thfastest time of the year.  I came back feeling really pleased and confident that I had finally started to get to a place where I could push on and start to make some serious progress.  The second of those runs a few days later was abysmal.  I’d prepared in the same way I usually do – checked my blood, had a couple of jelly babies to stop my blood going low while I was running, had a few puffs on my inhaler to help my breathing and did a few (albeit brief) stretches.  After 3 miles I was a wreck – with an aching back, pain in my left side and I couldn’t catch my breath (and worse still, my inhaler I carry with me had run out).  Now I’ve been running long enough to know things like that will happen without any obvious reason and having diabetes can be the same.  You can have one day where your blood glucose readings are pretty much ‘perfect’ and the next day, you’ll do exactly the same things, weigh your carbs out as usual and your blood glucose levels will be bouncing around between painfully high or sickeningly low.  Being able to accept that and try and again the next day is key.


·         They’re both affected by many things.   Obviously things like the terrain, route and weather will affect how you run.  Running uphill on uneven ground will definitely yield different results to running on a nice flat, even path.  Well it definitely will for me at least.  Diabetes is very similar.  Insulin absorption is affected by temperature (it absorbs faster when it’s warm) so you need to think about how your body will behave differently in the heat of summer compared to cooler days.  A lot of people with diabetes will tell you that they have more hypos in the summer.  Even the time of day has an effect on the amount of insulin you need.  Many people have different insulin to carb ratios at different times of the day and a lot of people also see a rise in blood glucose in the morning, which may mean they need more insulin first thing.  Foods with higher fat content will affect the rate at which carbohydrates are absorbed into the bloodstream which means you need to adjust the way in which you administer insulin.   Being aware of the things that are going to affect you is important.


·         They both require proper planning.   I foolishly underestimated the weather on Saturday morning as I set off for my 10 mile effort.  It was overcast and a bit breezy so I set off in a t-shirt with a litre of water, thinking I’d have some to spare by the time I got home.  After about 6 miles, the sun had broken through the clouds, it had got a lot muggier and I was rationing my water to make sure I had enough to get me through the last mile.  I got home cursing myself for not starting with an extra half a litre and a running vest.  A lot of my life is given over to planning how to manage diabetes.  I went to a wedding on Saturday night and stayed over in a nearby hotel.  Fortunately it was little over an hour away from home so I decided not to take my usual bag full of spares and supplies, but still made sure I had a couple of spare cannulas and my inserter with me just in case.  I’d refilled my pump with insulin after my run that morning so I knew I’d be OK for insulin (a full pump will last me at least 3 days).  Really I should have packed a spare vial, a couple of reservoirs for the pump, plus all the kit in case the pump failed and I had to revert to pens.  I took a chance that being relatively close to home meant I’d be able to sort it out fairly quickly if anything went seriously awry.  That said, I still forgot extra blood testing strips so had to ration them a bit.  Not great when my evening readings started to go high and I wanted to keep checking!  Prior planning will affect performance.


·         They’re both tiring.  This might be an obvious one in some sense but it’s definitely a big similarity.  Obviously running make you tired and running on a muggy summer’s morning makes you extra tired.  Thankfully my legs recovered pretty quickly after this 20 mile week.  It’ll get harder as the weekly miles increase (and I know I’ll start to feel the longer runs when they start!)  Having diabetes is quite frankly exhausting sometimes.  Not so much physically, but mentally it can take its toll.  A lot of the self-management becomes second nature after a while.  You keep your medication and supplies in the same place, you can almost test your blood without looking and inject or use a pump as a reflex.  But as I mentioned in another post I wrote for Diabetes UK, it can be difficult to switch off from diabetes.  You constantly have to consider whether you have enough insulin to get through the day, when the battery on your pump will run out, how many carbs are present in a biscuit that someone brings into work…. The list feels never ending, and having to manage all that information in your mind 24/7 takes its toll.  If you ask people with diabetes what they want more than anything, I’d wager the most popular answer to that question (besides “a cure”) would be “a day off”.  We all know what it’s like to be tired and being able to manage that as best we can is all we can do.


I could go on and on with that list, but I’ve rambled a fair bit already.  This week is supposed to be an “easy” week to let your body adapt to the training.  I’m mostly going to adhere to that philosophy but I might stick an extra run in so instead of doing 2, 4 and 5 miles, there’ll be an extra 3 miler in there to help me try and rediscover that confidence I had at the start of last week.  I can also use the shorter runs to focus on pace and the longer runs to practice holding  steady pace for longer distances.  It all depends what I can fit in really.


Finally, as always, a word about why I’m doing all this (besides the promise of a medal at the end of it all!)  I’m raising money for Diabetes UK who are the leading charity who care for and campaign on behalf of all people with diabetes in the UK.  As you may know, I’m involved in some of the work they do already by writing a monthly blog for their site as well as being chairman of the Sheffield Group of Diabetes UK.  The work the charity does benefit millions of people across the country who can struggle to manage their condition and have their voice heard when it comes to getting the appropriate level of healthcare and support.  I’ve had diabetes for 13 years and still rely a lot on the support they offer – these services are so valuable for people who have either type of diabetes, regardless of how long they’ve had it.


If you can spare anything at all, please help me try and raise £1000 ahead of the Yorkshire Marathon in October by visiting  http://www.justgiving.com/broomhead and donating whatever you can.