Type 1 Diabetes Success — How Paul Ran 40 Half Marathons in 1 Year

Type 1 Diabetes Success — How Paul Ran 40 Half Marathons in 1 Year


To mark 40 years of living with type 1 diabetes,
I went out, and I ran 40 half marathons in one year. My reason for switching to a plant-based diet
was that I couldn’t recover from exercise, and it was taking me six or eight weeks to
recover from a half marathon. And to go from six to eight weeks, to recovering
from a half marathon in 6 days, it’s just a world of difference. Hi, my name is Paul Coker, I’ve been living
with type 1 diabetes since July of 1977. I was 5 years old when I was diagnosed, and
I have seen just about everything come and go under the Sun, in terms of diabetes. Started out life without even having the technology
to test my own blood glucose levels, it was time for peeing in in a cup, and testing urine
to see what my previous levels in my urine were, and I was on one injection a day. Today, I’m on an insulin pump, a continuous
glucose monitor, and as I said, I’ve seen everything come and go. I started out life being taught that carbs
are the enemy, and I needed to carb count. Then, in the early 80s, they said that carbs
weren’t the enemy, and don’t even bother counting the amount of carbs, and just randomly guess
the amount of insulin that you need. And then we went back to carb counting, and
I went on to low-carb, high-fat diets. And when I first met Cyrus, I was on a low
carbohydrate, high-fat diet. I was aiming for less than 30 grams of carbohydrates
a day, I wasn’t really achieving that. I was probably sitting on somewhere between
50 and 70 grams of carbs a day. I was running three to four times a week,
and I was running one to two half marathons a year. And the real challenge for me was that I could
go out, and I could run for a couple of miles, maybe even 4 or 5 miles, and that was okay
on a low-carb diet. But when I ran for 13 miles on a half marathon,
it would take me six or eight weeks to feel like I’d actually recovered from that. And I just get so… Such fatigue. Muscles never really recover, and I knew then
that something was wrong. When I first started the Mastering Diabetes
Program, I started out just by increasing the amount of carbohydrates that I was eating
at breakfast, and what I was doing, and I still do to this day in the mornings, I’m
insulin resistant, so I was getting up in the morning, and I was exercising before I
did anything. And then, I would eat a breakfast that had
carbohydrates in it. And when I’m talking about carbohydrates,
I’m talking about a fruit-based breakfast. So today, my morning management has not changed
in the whole time, so I’ll get up, and I’ll go out, and I’ll run. And that takes me 20, 25 minutes to go out
for a run, that just amps me up in terms of insulin sensitivity for the day. And then, I’ll eat a big bowl of fruit. And that’s usually things like mangoes, and
dates, and bananas. When I was peaking on my insulin sensitivity
a couple of years ago, I would probably be eating around about 150 to 200 grams of carbohydrates
at breakfast, but now I’m a little bit more relaxed, and I’m not training quite as hard,
and I’m down to about 120 grams of carbs for breakfast. After a week or two of doing that, I then
brought in a high carbohydrate lunch. And that was really my main source for the
day, we were then talking in terms of, kind of 250 grams of carbohydrates at lunch time. Again, it was predominantly fruit-based, it
was all whole plant foods, maybe including some things like some starchy vegetables,
some green vegetables, things like rocket, or arugula as the Americans like to call it,
and some spinach, and sweet potatoes, and things like that. And then in the evening, I switched again
to a carb-based meal, in the evenings. Perhaps fewer carbs in the evening than what
I was having at lunch time. Perhaps down to about breakfast levels. And it was really about limiting the amount
of fats that I was taking. So, what I found was that my blood glucose
levels didn’t rise nearly as high as I thought they were going to, in terms of having carbohydrates,
because the carbohydrates were from plant foods, and that my insulin action profile
became much more predictable. And so, I was initially finding that I was
needing to change things, just a little bit, because I’ve been used to eating… Injecting my insulin, and then eating. So, I found that my insulin sensitivity was
increased, but because I was eating high carbohydrates, what happened is that I would get a spike
at meal times, but it would come down from it quickly. And so, just a simple modification, actually
taking my insulin before the meal, and trying to work out, if I’m going to eat, in ten minutes
time, solved the problem. And that was really the biggest adjustment
I made, but what happened then was that I found that I could go out, and I could exercise
more. Which for me was great. So, when I met Cyrus, I think I’ve had diabetes
for 38 years at the time, and to mark 40 years of living with type 1 diabetes, I went out,
and I ran 40 half marathons in one year. My reason for switching to a plant-based diet
was that I couldn’t recover from exercise, and it was taking me six or eight weeks to
recover from a half marathon. And to go from six to eight weeks, to recovering
from a half marathon in 6 days, it’s just a world of difference. It wasn’t just a case of recovering from the
half marathon in six days, because I would go out, and I’d run a half marathon typically
on Sunday, and then on Monday morning, I would get up, and I would go for a recovery run. Then, on Tuesday I’d be up running 5 or 6
miles, on Wednesday I’d be out running 7 or 8 miles. And then, I would tape it down on Thursday
or Friday, take a day off on Saturday, and then run 13 miles on Sunday. And I did that for a year, every single week,
or almost every single week, for a whole year. And I can tell you that, more I complied to
the whole plant foods diet, the better I felt. And on the few occasions where I was traveling,
and it wasn’t so easy, and it wasn’t a case of not being vegan, it was a case of having
foods that didn’t make my normal high standards, and have a little bit more fat in. I really did feel it. And it was that much harder to do the next
run, and it really did burn me out on those occasions. On the diet I had previously, I just didn’t
have the energy levels for it. And now, you know, I work a lot of hours,
and on top of working a lot of hours, I’m doing a lot of traveling, and I’m talking
at conferences, and my life is hectic, and most other people can’t keep up with me. And that’s whether they got diabetes or not. When I met Cyrus, I think I was taking around
about 37 units of insulin a day, and 24 of units of those were for basal insulin. And so, today I’m taking 15 units of insulin
for basal, and my insulin sensitivity is not great right now, because I’ve not been following
the regime as I diligently as I would like, so I’m probably on about 25 to 35 grams of
fat a day, right now. My insulin-to-carb ratio is 1 to 30, but when
I was following this very diligently, and I was on list, and I was having a total budget
20 grams of fat a day, I was actually on 1 unit of insulin for 50 grams of carbohydrate,
bolus insulin. And I was on 8 units of insulin for my basal. When I peaked, I think I was on 800 to 930
grams of carbohydrates, and less than 20 units of insulin in a day. And I was still struggling to keep my blood
glucose levels up. My favorite meal to eat would be a huge bowl
of mangoes, probably 3 or 4 mangoes, 4 or 5 bananas, and 3 or 4 Medjool dates, with
some chia seeds on the top, and why not throw in some acai berries, as well. If you’re thinking about doing the plant-based
diet, or you’re thinking about following the Mastering Diabetes Program, then my advice
to you would be the same advice that Cyrus gave me when I first started on this, try
it for 21 days, if at the end of 21 days it’s not working for you, then go back to what
you do. What do you have you got to lose, apart from
trying something for 21 days. Your change doesn’t have to be for life. Now, I’m pretty sure that if you do this,
and you can you follow it for 21 days, at the end of 21 days, you probably want to make
it for life. But, that’s your choice not mine.

8 thoughts on “Type 1 Diabetes Success — How Paul Ran 40 Half Marathons in 1 Year

  1. I keep wanting to do go back to 80/10/10, but when I've dropped fat/protein in the past, I've had some serious hypos and it terrifies me to workout.

  2. Make sure to give Paul a thumbs up! 40 half marathons in one year is amazing! Have you ever run a half marathon? Let us know in the comments.

  3. I am so heart sick over Penny Marshall passing today from complications of diabetes. 🙁 I wish she'd found the low fat vegan diet…

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