Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Animas Type1 Sport & Excercise Weekend

In May last year (yep I know this post is a little late!) a group of 12 people with Type1 Diabetes traveled from Ireland to the UK to attend a 3 day Workshop hosted by Animas at Loughbourough University. In total there were 50 delegates from all around the UK & Ireland along with a number of Animas Ambassadors - some fantastic people with Type1 who have excelled in various sports and were on hand to share their experience and achievements. Also on hand were members of the Runsweet team led by Dr. Ian Gallen, members of diabetes healthcare teams, and the Animas team who put an huge amount of effort into making sure everyone was well looked after.

Animas Sport & Excercise Weekend at Loughbourough University

After arriving early at Loughbourough after our (very!) early flight from Dublin, we got a chance to look around the campus and check out the world class sports facilities. We were interested to hear that Team GB Athletics have chosen Loughbourough as their pre-Olympic base. A few of us decided to head off for a run and made our way across campus to the Paula Radcliffe Athletics Track where we managed to blag our way in - even though a number of the British Olympic team were training there. It's quite a humbling experience to plod your way around the track after watching Olympic standard sprinters running bends at full throttle!

The weekend kicked off properly around 3pm with a meet and greet followed by a fantastic introductory talk from Dr. Gallen - one of the world leading specialists in diabetes and sport who has worked with a number of elite athletes, most notably Olympic Rower Steve Redgrave. Dr. Gallen provided some great insights into how the body works during exercise, how this is affected by diabetes, and the types of common problems associated with managing blood glucose levels before, during and after sport. He also outlined a number of strategies to help deal with these problems - some of which were certainly eye opening. Dr. Gallen has made his presentation available for download here on the Runsweet site - well worth checking out.

Following Dr. Gallen's talk we had some time to relax before dinner. Was a bit unusual to hear so many meters & insulin pumps beeping away in the restaurant - not everyday you get 50+ diabetics having dinner together :) A few post dinner drinks were had while getting to know everyone - not too many though since there was a busy day of activities ahead on Saturday.

The main focus of Saturday was on practical workshops where we got to spend 2 hours participating in 2 of  either cycling, swimming, football, or fitness sessions - led by the Animas Ambassadors and Runsweet team. During each session everyone was asked to check blood glucose levels before, during, and afterwards and to use the advice provided from the group leaders. Some of the sessions were tough going - the cycling (spinning) session certainly woke everyone up in the morning session. Team Ireland were well represented in the football - taking on the Animas Ambassadors and winning! We also had a number of talks on Saturday between practical sessions (to give people a breather!). Claire Pesterfield talked about her experience of exercising at high altitude while climbing Kilimanjaro - Claire has even invented the new sport of Extreme Blood Glucose Monitoring - check out the facebook page ! Claire Duncan told us about how she managed her diabetes while training and competing for an Ironman Triathlon and a Channel Swim. Really inspiring stuff! We finished the day off with some group discussions to share what we thought about the days exercise sessions. It was interesting to see how people had adjusted their insulin and carb intakes during the day,  sometimes with good results, sometimes not so good! After re-fueling at dinner, we managed a (good) few well deserved beers after a hard day.

Sunday started with a great talk from dietitian Carin Hume on nutrition for sports. Carin emphasized the different requirements we have during exercise (fueling) and at other times (nutrition). Nutrition is key to getting the most from your exercise - particularly for those of us with Type1. The weekends activities finished with a short 'awards' ceremony. Dave managed to pickup the Rebecca Adlington award for best swimmer, which presumably is already framed and hanging on the wall!

Since we had a late flight home we got to stay on and watch Dave's beloved Man City claim their first league title in 44 years with 2 late goals sparking off the celebrations (sorry Liam couldn't not mention it)! By the time we got back to Dublin there were a few tired bodies - a sign of a great weekend.

Many thanks to everyone from Animas & Dr.Gallens team and for organizing a great weekend - particularly to Aileen who looked after the Irish crew wonderfully from start to finish. Hopefully we'll have an even bigger group travel next year as this event is a fantastic opportunity to meet other people with Type1  and learn from some of the the best specialists in the world. Personally speaking I've definitely increased my own expectations of what I can aim to achieve over the next year as I've seen that with the right skills to manage it, diabetes doesn't limit you in sporting terms - people with Type1 have run marathons, completed Ironman races, climb the worlds highest mountains, and represent their country in various sports.

The bar has been raised. Onwards and upwards!  

UPDATE: The video from the weekend is now on you tube

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