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Living with Diabetes

My Marathon Training Miles and Type2 Diabetes, a Man on a Mission #breakingthestigma

9/26/2022 by Jamie Knight

My Marathon Training Miles and Type2 Diabetes, a Man on a Mission #breakingthestigma

My Type2 Diabetes diagnosis happened during May of 2018! Walking, running and exercise have helped me shift my diagnosis into remission without the need for any Diabetes related medication. Since diagnosis I have covered over 9,000 miles and a big part of my maintained focus and motivation has been to participate in Virtual Events but now, for the first time since July of 1994, when I ran the New Forest 10 Miles and Portsmouth 10k, I am training for a proper race. That proper race just happens to be “The London Marathon” on October 2nd, 2022.

A massive part of my motivation is to help myself, and others break the stigma of Type2 Diabetes. I want to demonstrate what is possible, even when you have been diagnosed with a chronic condition that labels you as “Fat and Lazy,” without any thought for the other factors that can contribute to the disease. There is so much more to it than what is portrayed in mainstream media, and I want to try and help motivate people to take those first steps on their road back to good physical and mental health. I know from my own experience how ashamed and humiliated I was after my diagnosis; It felt like the world was laughing at me! Taking part in this race with thousands of other runners and people watching is a statement from me, a statement that says “It’s OK to be who you are you, It’s OK not be fast, It’s OK just to be you and to do your best, the only person you are competing with is YOU”. If just one person reads this article or sees my Insta account @Type2nme and is inspired to get moving, then my efforts will be fully vindicated.

I have a place with the Diabetes UK charity team #teamDUK #teamDUK2022 and I have been marathon training now for 4 months. I am just 2-3 weeks away from participating in the biggest race of my life and the catalyst for that was my Type2 diagnosis. I was 51 years old when diagnosed and although I had stayed active, I had lost the motivation to compete and did not make the time for myself because of work and family commitments.

Balancing my training with my Diabetes management has not been easy, being off medication means that most of the time I need to be careful with what I eat and drink, which is fine when you are not training for a marathon but for the longer and more intense training I have had to balance what is good for diabetes management, with what is good for running and walking longer and longer distances.

I have experimented with different energy gels, drinks, and slow-release carbohydrates like bananas and hopefully have found a good balance between high energy and low blood sugars. Without a doubt, I can run further and faster when well fuelled and have managed to balance that with some weight loss and maintaining an HbA1c between 42-44.

I tend to exercise early in the mornings, so this has been another factor that I have had to consider when training. I have had to teach myself to fuel before I leave the house and to take additional fuel with me for those runs that last for over 90 minutes. Most people will have used all the stored Glycogen within our bodies (energy) after 90 minutes, so fuelling for long distances is an essential part of marathon training. As is resting, which is another aspect that I have not been very conscious of in the past. Now resting does not mean that you cannot go for a pleasant walk, but it does mean you need to let your body recover between your three types of different running. The three types are:

  • Easy Run – 50/60% effort, you be able to hold a conversation
  • Temp Runs – 80% effort, not flat out and able to say a few words
  • Long Runs – 2-3 hrs plus

I have found the training to be challenging, demanding of my time and energy but the hard graft has hopefully paid off. It has helped provide additional strength and endurance and increased recovery & resilience to enable me to endure longer distances at a faster pace. My style of running includes walking, which is also known as “Jeffing,” a run/walk strategy that helps relieve impact injuries and is ideal for people, like me, who are starting their running journey.

The most important aspect is commitment and mental attitude. Although my official marathon training started in April, I never stop exercising. No matter what the weather is I will exercise at least five times a week, I run/walk in the rain, snow, ice, heat, wind and across all types of terrain including steep hills, mud, trails, woodland, beaches, cliff tops, pavements, and roads. I went on holiday in July for a week and in August for a week, my training did not stop, in fact, I was excited to get up early and explore my new surroundings.

My nervous excitement is now building, with just a couple of weeks to go before race day I am starting to imagine how it will feel to race with other people, to listen to a crowd of people cheering, and to be running proudly as part of the Diabetes UK team, raising vital funds for a fabulous cause and hopefully helping just a little bit to help break some of the stigmas of Type2 Diabetes. 

My training will taper off a little now, not so many training miles are required, and all the demanding work is now completed. Now is the time to save those legs for the big day, wrap myself in cotton wool, and look forward to achieving a lifelong ambition of running in the London Marathon and all because of my Type2 Diabetes 4.5 years ago. They say good things can come from bad, and without a doubt, Type 2 has been a catalyst that has changed my life.

If you want to follow my story and see, how get on the big day then give me a follow @type2nme.

Jamie Knight