Running with Reactive Hypoglycemia

Back in college, I was diagnosed with reactive hypoglycemia by a nurse at the health center.  I had been waking up in the middle of the night sweating and overheating, I’d been getting dizzy and nauseous in the middle of the day when I was hungry, and the hanger!  The hanger was fierce.  (A quick note – that’s not the hanger that stores your clothes in the closet.  It’s hanger, like I get hangry.  Hungry and angry.  I thought I should clarify.)  I don’t have hypoglycemia in that my blood sugar is dangerously low all the time – it’s reactive, meaning it happens when I haven’t been eating right, or I haven’t eaten in a long time.  The diagnosis was accompanied by a suggested change in my diet – less processed sugar and simple sugars, more protein, and so on. 

In the years that have followed, I’ve gone back and forth on how well I control the symptoms.  I love pasta – that’s very well my fatal flaw.  And I love cookies and cakes and everything sweet.  I’ve learned that it goes in cycles – if I indulge myself in some candy corn, for example, I’ll crave it again the next day.  It’s the cravings that are hardest to control.

And then I started running, which opened up a whole new bag of worms.

I know people who can go double-digit miles without bringing water or chews with them.  One of the things that I’m trying to convince my dad of is that he should probably eat and drink some during our half marathon.  My mom took one sip of water during our 10K and felt nauseous.  H’s mom said that she can go up to 14 miles without water or food, as long as it’s not too hot.  I, unfortunately, don’t have the luxury of going without.  You see, my metabolism is almost too fast.  I’m not complaining – I realize that that’s supposed to change with age.  But that’s part of the blood sugar plummet issue.  I’ll be out running for an hour, and all of a sudden my legs feel like lead, and my side starts to ache, and I start to think that I should maybe just lay down in the grass for a while.  Take a nap.  I can’t possibly continue, after all.  Then my eyes get weird, like things are shiny and out of focus.

This means my blood sugar is low.  And it usually happens between miles six and eight.

Is it weird that my body reacts like that?  Absolutely.  And it’s super inconvenient, because anything over six miles requires a hydration belt.  I’m training for a half!  A good quarter of my runs include me wearing this weird fanny pack looking contraption.  Nice, right?

Ehh.  It could be worse.  I know the signs, and I know what helps.  A couple gulps of water and two or three jelly beans or gummies or whatever I’m carrying usually does the trick.  It hasn’t held me back at all.  But, I’m 99% certain that if I maintained a healthier diet (as in, less pasta), it wouldn’t be nearly the issue that it currently is.  I say that as I munch on some candy corn, by the way.  #noregrets



All I’m saying is that a diagnosis isn’t the end of the world.  Diabetes runs in my family, and I’ve known that my whole life.  Blood sugar issues are just a thing that we deal with.  And H knows about my pasta thing.  Half the time, when it’s my turn to plan a meal, he says something along the lines of, “I don’t care what we have, but no pasta.”

I just love it so much, guys.  I can’t help it.  Mac and cheese is my first love.


Tomorrow, I’m going to strap on the hydration belt and crank out nine miles.  And then I’m going to continue on with my day.  Life goes on, even when you’re dealing with something annoying and chronic.  It’s part of who I am.  Ask my FR.  We were going shopping for something for her wedding, and before we left, she said, “Now, A, have you eaten recently?  I’m not sure when we’re going to stop, so you better have a snack.”  That’s love, guys.  That is love.

I am who I am.



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