Triathlon training- I need advice!

hello! i am training for a sprint triathlon. i am an avid runner and cyclist, and swimming is the thing ive really got to work on. so im following a training programme and have inquired about private swim lessons at my gym to improve my stroke and efficiency in the water. im thinking a couple of lessons where someone qualified can look at my stroke and help me improve it. my sugar just plummets with swimming.
my sprint is 750m swim in a river, 20km on flat ground on the bike and a 5 km run.
i am practicing doing BRICK workouts and will do some transitions practice in the weeks to come. the tri is on the 28may.
has anyone done this kind of thing and what helped you diabetically speaking and just as an athlete? any advice? words of wisdom? comfort?
i am t1, i use apidra and levemir-no pump or cgm, no possibility of getting them

thanks in advance

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Let’s talk. I am putting together a few things, I have some posts we are working on for this type of stuff.

@Eric is the best at discussing running training – I am sure he will pipe in soon.

My son swims up to 2 hours per session many days per week. For him, we have found that swimming is the hardest sport for BG control by quite a big margin. He has a CGM but no pump - although the CGM is not very helpful when swimming since you are unable to get a reading in the water, or out of the water either if you are on a share. We find that the action of swimming has very reproducible effects from session to session (although, as we all know, every day has its idiosyncrasies).

Before the session
What not to do for us: underdose the last meal. It was one of the pieces of advice we got, and it had absolutely no effect, except to keep him high longer and for no reason. If we do that, he will stay high until his practice, then his BG will fall like a cliff in a small number of minutes.

No IOB except basal: He is a lot more controllable with little trailing IOB left from his last meal. He likes a meal 3 hours before, but no closer.

Starting BG, for him, needs to be approximately 150. Thirty minutes before his session, we get his BG up with a precise amount of a bar. In a competition, he starts a little bit higher but not much He needs to stay within a fairly narrow range in order to perform best

During the session
Essentially, for my son, he needs to take almost exactly 15 carbs every 20 minutes. He comes out of the pool exactly every 20 minutes and tests (most of the time, his checks his CGM - but it has to be just when he gets the pulse, which he synchronizes for) then takes 15 carbs. If he did not, he would go low 7-8 minutes later.

After the session
He keeps on going lower after a long session for quite a while. We have made a lot of experiments and read a lot of research. There is a study that tests quite a few foods and concludes that whole milk is the best - that’s what we do. There is a 60-90 minute interval right after the workout that is best to replenish. He takes whole milk (with a little insulin) right after the pool, then typically eats a whole meal sometime in the next hour (but that depends upon the schedule of course).

You have to keep a sharp lookout for dropping BG for quite a while. My son may still be dropping 5 hours after the workout.

Biking and running
My son does both but a lot less than swimming, so we are not very knowledgeable. For both, the effects on BG for him are a lot less pronounced: he needs a lot fewer carbs to maintain his BG. We know that, for every sport, he has a specific BG range that is best for him, varying by sport. He is always better with little or no IOB. He enjoys running long distances (his school’s best lap tester) but he does not compete, so we are a lot less on the ball:-)

For running, @Eric has a GREAT setup for running with strips and testing that you MUST check out. If he does not post it soon I will:-)

Of course, YDMV strongly for all sports issues I think.

@Eric already posted a picture of his strip setup here.

A lot of what you are seeing with the dropping is too much basal. Basal during exercise is not the same as other times. When you get started on the pump this will be simpler to manage, but with Lantus you can do it somewhat with timing of the shots. Is he still making insulin, or do you think he is totally done with that? Get going with that PDM!

If he is done with honeymoon, the big drop can be handled with basal adjustments. The only thing that makes you drop is insulin. No amount of exercise will make you drop without insulin. Exercise amplifies it, but it is still insulin that does the dropping.

If those 20 minute breaks are consistent and reliable, I would suggest working on those 20 minutes as your target. Don’t worry about trying to set him up for the full 2 hours for the swim practice. Just plan on 20 minutes. What do we need to do to make your BG correct for 20 minutes? These 20 minute breaks are great. Just think about it in terms of a 20 minute window, rather than a 2 hour window. That makes it more manageable.

I am working on a post for this. Please try to hit those post-exercise carbs and protein within 20 minutes! This will help the next day also.

Having low blood sugar after today’s practice can blunt the body’s hormonal response to exercise tomorrow, meaning the hormones that would usually raise your blood sugar are not as active. One of the best ways to avoid this is to hit those carbs right away. Keep in mind that the fat in the whole milk can slow down the absorption. You want to get the carbs in quickly to restore muscle glycogen. This is extremely important if he is exercising everyday. Not as important if it is every other day, or just a few times a week.

Hi Pancreaswanted!
I send you a PM with my number. Lots of things to talk about. We should start with a few topics. What is your levemir dosing schedule, and do you split it twice a day?
What is your insulin duration?
What time of day do you workout?

Just because I wanted to participate in this thread, I will only say the following…I ran (with no choice…in formation most of the time), for 11 years in the Army. When I got out I promised myself that…If you ever see me running, it would be advisable that you turn and run as well because there’s probably something chasing me…and I just hope and pray that I’m faster than you are. :stuck_out_tongue:

Sorry I can’t be more help than that! hehehehe


Reminds me of the story, two guys are being chased by a bear in the woods. One guy says to the other, “I don’t have to be faster than the bear, I only have to be faster than you!”


I have to enter the caveat that I am not a diabetic, just an out of shape guy that has done 8 sprint tri’s. Don’t kill yourself training for the swim. The race is won/lost on the bike, I am a fast swimmer and used to get out of the water in the first 5 of my heat, then would watch most of the field pass me on the bike. Frustrating.

Anyway, if your race allows it, invest in renting the wetsuit. The flotation of the wetsuit means that all you have to do is pull yourself through the water, much easier than swimming in just a swimsuit. There were people in my races that could barely swim without the wetsuit, but with the added flotation they bullied through it and did great.

Personally, I would focus most of your brick training on the bike to run transition, that one is one that you can really improve, both from having an efficient switch and also, being able to get your legs working properly off the bike.

Listen to what Eric has to say on how to handle your diabetes during this event.

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@Eric, @pancreaswanted is in Spain. It might be better to do this all on the thread:-)

ok, we can do that!

thanks so much for all of this sports specific info. i also find that swimming is really hard on maintaining control of bg. i dont know if it because its a sport i do less (?) or because its just so full-body workout (?). no idea. i also find i have to start at about 180 to swim about 750 m and will come out of the water in the 90s. thats a nice number to finish at!

i am glad i have the next ten weeks of training to experiment a lot before the race!

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im in spain, so phoning will be VERY expensive!
i take my levemir twice a day and usually btwn 9 and 11 units morning and evening.
that will last me the 24 hours no problem.

exercise is interspersed throughout the day
hour long walk in park with dog in morning, then a tri training session
cycle to work in early afternoon, after lunch, about 5k
back home on the bike at 2200.

nice to see you here!!

hello chris,

i dont really mind about my times and splits, as this is my first tri. just looking to have a good time, learn from it for if i ever do it again, and FINISH! :grimacing:
the race is the 28 may in andalucia so i wont need a wetsuit for the cold and i dont want to use one because i want to do it all on my own steam.
i started brick training last week. the first five minutes of the run was pretty uncomfortable and not at all like running usually feels for me. it is my favourite sport but it felt hellish. i am doing another today.

i was in the gym changing rooms the other day testing my bg and looked around at all these people and i just cant believe they just get to do it without all this D malarchy!

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Yeah, the bike to run transition is a bear, your legs have been used to one exercise, and then they have to switch to different muscles. It is rough. On the other hand, watching the people that finished in the top 10%, it appeared they had very little issue, so I am guessing that the training is what made the difference. Have fun and stay safe.

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I loved your comment! I showed it to my T1D son who had a good laugh - says there are moments in his life when he feels the same.

My son thinks it’s awesome that you plan to do this tri! He wants to go see Eric run a marathon btw. He has been asking for months.


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You have something that they don’t have. The disease gives you a resilience and persistence that none of them will ever know. Things that would seem tough for them are easy for you. What the disease takes away in some areas, it give back in mental toughness. The disease makes you tougher than anyone. Use what the disease gives you.

Ok, let’s talk about insulin management.:slight_smile:

How long have you been diabetic? Is it T1, and your body is not making any insulin?

The swimming will be the toughest part. What time of day do you do that for training?

That huge BG drop you mentioned when swimming, did you have any IOB? How close to your meal was that swimming drop from 180 to 90? It has to be one of 3 things - either your body is making insulin, too much basal, or too much IOB.

If your body is not making any insulin, it would probably be a good idea to drop your basal for swimming. Can you do swimming in the morning?

Your Levemir shots…if you did swimming in the morning BEFORE you did your morning Levemir shot, you would only have a bit of the basal still trickling in from the night before.

Can you try this?
Would you be willing to try the same swimming workout before breakfast, with no morning Levemir, and no breakfast or breakfast insulin? The only insulin you would use would be if you need a correction before the workout, and for that you would do only half of the normal correction. The only insulin in your system would be the leftover from the nighttime Levemir.

This is just a starting point. Later, the timing of the nighttime Levemir dose can then be adjusted to either earlier or later, depending on how that works for you.

After the morning swim, you take your morning Levemir, and an immediate bolus for breakfast, and get a good breakfast with emphasis on carbs and protein.

Can we start with that and see how that works? And then we can move on to the other events and practice.

Couple more questions:
How are you injecting Apidra? Are you using a pen or syringes? I have never used an Apidra pen, so I am not sure if they can be reloaded, but if you are using syringes, I know micro-dosing can be done easily. We need to get you setup so you can do micro-dosing. I can post on this later. No matter how you dose Apidra, we are going to need to get you setup for micro-dosing…

Can you send me your TDD, your IC, and your correction factor?

Sorry, ton of questions here. Please answer them and we can work through this.

I posted 5 things on the exercise page. Take a look at those too.

I don’t think it is a radical drop for a 750 meter swim, if using regular basal dosing on MDI. @pancreaswanted, what is your time on 750 meters?

My 12-year old son does a lot of swim practice. When he swims for 2 hours on a row, I am guessing he is probably covering about 800 yards in the 20 minutes he takes between BG checks: he typically goes down 50-60 in 20 minutes. So going full blast would draw his BG lower than that.

He never swims with a lot of IOB, btw, but he does not lower his daily dose of basal when he swims either (he is on MDI).