1. Fuelling right
Eating the right amount and type of food when exercising is paramount to me. Through a lot of trial and error, I learnt so much about my body's needs for fuelling depending on the type of activity, duration and intensity. Looking at nutritional information and ingredients of sports nutrition and by testing it, I learnt what food works well and what doesn't and how much I need. At the end of the day, the best preparation and training that has gone into a race is worth nothing if I can't maintain stable sugar levels because I don't fuel properly.
2. Understanding the body's physiology
It is only over time with a lot of testing and recording data that I seem to have found explanations to these and many similar questions. The body's physiology is an amazing interaction of so many systems within it. Is finely tuned by the circadian rhythm (the body clock) and influenced by training intensity, duration, hormonal interaction amongst so many factors that it impacts enormously on managing type 1 diabetes. Understanding some of the physiological processes help hugely in explaining why blood sugar levels might go up or down and you tear your hair out thinking what the hell am I doing wrong. For my training schedule it is of immense importance and my diabetes management will vary adapting to physiological needs. For race planning, it has made a huge difference and allows me to schedule races at a less sensitive time of the month for example.
3. Learning from failure
4. Focussing the mind
Naturally my race nerves are primarily concerned around my diabetes: What if the water if colder than I thought which makes sugar levels drop quicker? Will I manage levels well enough on the bike to run well afterwards? Have I taken on too much insulin or will levels rise too quickly during the swim? Questions to which there is no immediate answer other than " Wait and deal with it if necessary!". Over time, I have learnt to control these thoughts in a number of ways:
- Telling myself that I have dealt with my diabetes numerous times in training with less-than-ideal levels and I managed it well
- Rehearsing in my mind the situations that worry me and could go wrong and how I would deal with them - that is part of my race plan tactics to come up with plan B and C if A doesn't work!
- Remind myself that it is OK when it doesn't go to plan
- Focusing the mind on something enjoyable - I listen to music whilst setting myself up in transition if I can
- Finding time and space to myself - this is incredibly powerful when everyone else around you is stressing. I like being on my own just before a race and make a conscious effort to stay away from the hustle and bustle that goes on where possible.