The Cost of Racing

Running with Diabetes


I am 42 and have type II diabetes. I joined a gym, as I know exercise is important to control blood glucose levels, and in the process I started to enjoy running on the treadmill, eventually venturing out on the road. I need advice on what, when, how much and how often I should eat before/during/after a run. At this stage I do not run more than 5km, but would eventually love to run a half marathon. – HANS HAVENGA, BENONIEXPERT

Running can be a very effective tool to help manage your sugar levels. For me to give you the best advice, I need more specific details such as the times of your runs, current sugar control, medication used, weight, daily activity levels, etc. In general though, if your blood sugar levels are well-controlled, you would apply the same principles a non-diabetic athlete would. (If you are on glucophage, you have even less worry that your sugar levels will fall too low.)

For example, if you are only running for 30 minutes, you generally would not need to worry too much about eating before or during a run. A nutritious low-GI snack or meal (depending on the time of day) would be a good idea afterwards, as you will need to replenish glycogen stores for your run the next day. If you are running for about 90 minutes, you may want to think about eating something before you start. The ideal snack or meal has a low to intermediate GI, to supply a slow but constant release of energy throughout the run. Again, you probably need a small snack immediately after the run to help maximise muscle recovery and to refuel your glycogen stores. For longer runs such as 21km, you should introduce small amounts of high-GI carbs (which supply a quick source of energy) in intervals throughout your run.

For detailed information, I recommend that you consult a dietician.

Modern Athlete Expert – CHRISTINE PETERS
Dietician at Sunninghill Medical Centre, Johannesburg. Member of Morningside Country Club with eight years running experience, including two finishes in the Two Oceans Marathon.