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How to deal with diabetes in an ultradistance race?

Hi Sweet Life,

Can anyone tell me what strategy they use to fuel them during an ultradistance footrace?

I have in the past approached the matter as if I am not a diabetic and have consumed carbs from 10km onwards. 32km into a race I almost always hit the wall. Prof Noakes states that it is because of the “Central Governer”.

Is there really nothing more to it other than that I am subconsciously scared? Will a high fat diet help?


– Pieter

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One Comment

  1. Michael Park Michael Park

    Hi Pieter.

    I had a very interesting discussion with someone who had recently been to see their diabetologist. Apparently, and I speak under correction here, carbo loading has been blown out of the water for race preparation. The reasons for this are highly technical, but I have decided to put this question to my biocheneticist, since I believe that the answer to this question lies firmly within the domain of the biocheneticist rather than a dietition. I will also do some research on the internet and come back to you with the answers.

    What I canb say about the carbo loading thing is that I do a lot of gymn and swimming training. I am the first blind person to have ever finished the Midmar mile, but have neglected the fitness somewhat. Even though I am on the wrong side of 50, I believe that I can tackle swimming ultras and the swim between Cape Town and Robin Island, as well as the English channel.

    Besides personal reasons I have for these ambitions, the reason why I mention this is the fact that in a different sense, perhaps, I am in the same dilemma as you are. What does interest me is the fact that I took a copy of my diet to my biocheneticist, and he did not make alterations to the diet. At no time when the matter of diet came up for discussion, did my biocheneticist ever mention the subject of carbo loading to me, and I have also not persued the question because, based on my experience of ultras from the past, this has never been a specific issue for me; neither have I, or do I intend to put the matter on the agenda. Given your post and the discussion I had with the person I mentioned earlier, I have become extremely interested in the subject. Unfortunately,I am not at liberty to share what the person concerned told me, but bet your bottom dollar, I am very interested in the answer myself.

    By way of conclusion, let me mention just three things which may be of general benefit to this forum.

    Being some sort of an iconic figure here, I have decided to do the ultras to raise funds to help persons with disabilities, who suffer from diabetes. While the state of diabetes education generally, stinks in this country, it is even worse for people who have disabilities.

    When I fdid the Midmar, I was not diabetic, but I was diagnosed going on for 14 years ago, and I have, as far as education is concerned, fallen with my bum in the butter so to speak, and I feel that it would be a total waste of effort on the part of the people who have helped me onto the straight and narrow, if I just sat back and did nothing about the matter. I did remind my wife that I have always been disposed favourably towards adventure and that appetite has, over the years, not died down. Instead, it has grown.

    The second thing I want to mention here, relates to a comment made by Bruce Fordyce on June 16, 2003, on being interviewed about how to prepare to run a Comrades. I have never forgotten one specific remark which he made, and that is to the effect that you need to go and look at the task at hand, and get really scared. Having done the midmar as a pub dare at the time, I now know what that entails and the thought is absolutely scary to me. I will do the same with the other goals I have set myself.

    The final thing I want to mention here, is that it is never too late to start. I have a way of expressing this which is rather strong and which I am not going to repeat here.

What do you think?

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