My workout routine has recently changed and, like everything with diabetes, my blood sugar management routine had to change too. For the past few years, I’ve been exercising primarily in the morning thus timing my workout to the dawn phenomenon peak in my blood sugar. That routine worked well in that I always knew I’d need to bolus extra insulin (even without eating) to cover the spike in blood sugar that would occur during the early morning.
I’m now able to run in the late afternoon on a regular basis and found a great five mile loop around a lake by my office. Since I’m still using multiple daily injections (MDI) instead of an insulin pump, my old method of disconnecting from the pump for afternoon exercise doesn’t apply. So, I’ve been experimenting with how best to manage my blood sugar before, during, and after my run.
Through trial and error, I’ve learned that my blood sugar will rise if I workout with no fast acting insulin active in my system (insulin-on-board in pump language). That means if I eat lunch, my blood sugar is stable through the afternoon, and I don’t give myself any additional insulin my blood sugar will rise through the course of my run. Rising blood sugar isn’t great for my energy level (or my health, for that matter).
Through 5 runs over the past two weeks, I’ve zeroed in on a routine that’s working. Routine, after all, is the key to good blood sugar control. About 90 minutes before I run, I’ll test my blood. If it’s in range: 80-150 mg/dl, I’ll eat a snack of 20-25 grams of carbohydrate. I’ve been eating all natural fruit and nut granola bars, which have a good balance of carbohydrate, protein, and fat that’s slowly absorbed. The trick is I don’t give myself an injection right away. Instead, I’ll wait about 45 minutes and then give myself an injection to cover the snack. This way, my blood sugar will be right around 160 mg/dl as I start my run (about 30—45 minutes after the injection). With the active insulin and slowly digested snack onboard, my blood sugar has been exactly 85 mg/dl at the end of the run 3 of the 4 times I’ve tried this routine. For me, that’s a solid number. Then, I don’t need to snack or give myself anymore insulin and my blood sugar stays right in range. My pre-dinner blood sugars have been between 110-120 mg/dl each time.
It’s very comforting to find something that works, reliably, so I can exercise the way I want to and keep my blood sugar stable. I certainly do thrive on routine!