Julie has had Type 1 diabetes since 1984. She uses an Omnipod pump and Dexcom CGM (continuous glucose monitor) to manage and track her blood sugars. She started running in 2002 and has built distance over the years.
What’s the toughest run you ever did?
The Stonebridge Playtri Sprint triathlon in 2010. I rode a mountain bike for the cycling part of the event. When I got to the run, my legs were “toasty toast.”
How do you train?
I follow a 12 week training plan based on my conditioning at the time and whether I’m training for a particular run. Also, I don’t run with insulin on board. I get energy from Gatorade and running gels as needed, and closely monitor my sugar with my CGM. During local runs, I loop by her car for extra water and to test my sugar.
How do you stay focused?
I listen to music on her longer runs, and if struggling, repeat Bible verses along with my breathing.
What’s the worst and best advice you ever got about diabetes or exercise?
The best advice I ever got from a doctor was to not shoot for 100% blood sugar control, which is actually demotivating and setting yourself up for failure. The worst advice? Going super-low-carb all the time. As an athlete, that just doesn’t work, and my sugars “go haywire.”
What would you tell someone just diagnosed?
I’d tell them that this is not an easy disease, and that it’s normal to go through phases where you just don’t care and want to pretend you don’t have it. It’s important that you have your “pity party,” and then brush yourself off and try again, because with good control, we can do anything, and live long, healthy lives.
What do you wish someone had told you earlier about diabetes and exercise?
Staying connected to other diabetic athletes has taught me so much! I had a lot of fear of low blood sugars before I started learning more about diabetes and exercise. Having a core group of diabetic athlete friends has been my key motivator and has helped me learn so much more. We are all different and different things work for different people. Sometimes trying something new helps you overcome your fear.
What keeps you motivated?
My fellow pancreas challenged friends! They are my go to when I am down and need to be picked up off the floor.
What do people in your support network do that you especially value and appreciate?
They are always encouraging, and we really try to help each other solve problems, from needing a new doctor to high sugars after a long run, we work together until we help each other figure it out.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
If I had not met a fellow Type 1 Diabetic marathoner, I would have never ran a marathon. Going out and doing what everyone else thinks you can’t or shouldn’t do breaks the glass ceiling for all diabetics. You never know who you just changed for the better. You thought it was you, but little did you know, someone is always watching!