Run a Marathon? Are You Crazy?

Given the burgeoning interest that the public at large appears to have with running that infamous 26.2 endurance race, it’s likely that other individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes will “hear the call” and decide to train for one. That’s exactly what happened to Arkansas former governor Mike Huckabee after he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes a few years ago. More races than ever before are put on as fundraising events, and although elite runners take the prizes home, many other individuals are winning by simply participating. Marathons times for the middle-of-the pack runners have been slowing down for a couple of decades now, and the average time for completing one (as of 2005) was 4:32 for men and 5:06 for women, including more than 384,000 finishers from around 314 marathons around the country.

You can’t run a marathon without first doing a copious amount of run training, which likely will not be appropriate for everyone with diabetes (particularly foot nerve damage). However, if you’re willing and able to take the challenge, we’d like to send you off to train with a little more knowledge about training properly and preventing overuse injuries. Accordingly, before you start, please research training schedules with appropriate mileage buildup and other strategies by talking to other marathoners or visiting online resources like the following:
http://www.marathontraining.com/marathon.html
http://www.bostonmarathon.org/BostonMarathon/MarathonTraining.asp
http://www.nycmarathon.org/training/trainingschedule.php
http://www.runnersworld.ltd.uk/marathon.htm
http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/marathon.html
http://www.halhigdon.com/marathon/Mar00index.htm

We’d like to add that balancing your diabetes effectively with training as strenuous and prolonged as marathon training is an individual thing—no one strategy works best for everyone. If you’d like more information about participating in run or marathon training as an insulin user, please consult Dr. Sheri’s upcoming book, The Diabetic Athlete’s Handbook (November 2008).

For additional advice, connect with other diabetic runners through the Diabetes Exercise & Sports Association (www.diabetes-exercise.org; [800] 898-4322; desa@diabetes-exercise.org) or the Diabetes Sports & Wellness Foundation (www.dswf.org; Jay Handy, triathlete, president at [608] 334-1350 or jay@dswf.org).

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