Sports are fun, require ambition and for many they also offer a welcome break from everyday routines. However, for people with type 1 diabetes, sports can pose a very special challenge. The reason for this is that physical exertion puts glucose management to the test.
Running a marathon is already quite a feat in itself for most people with a healthy metabolism. In type 1 diabetes, the long hours of physical activity and extensive training represent a huge challenge overall. And all this combined with a full-time job in the sales force. Sounds a bit crazy, doesn’t it?
Markus took up the challenge as he was already a passionate marathon runner before being diagnosed with diabetes. Eight years ago, he received the news that from now on he would have to pay special attention to his glucose management as he had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. But he didn’t want to simply abandon his passion, he wanted to keep running and push the boundaries.
mylife Loop supports him in this endeavour: automated insulin delivery (AID) via the smartphone gives him the support he needs for his glucose management.
In 2019, his first ambitious project was to run nine marathons within a year, and Markus passed the test with flying colours. This even included an ultra marathon of almost 50 kilometres and an elevation gain of 1,800 metres.
Can this be topped? Most definitely for Markus! In 2023, his greatest achievement to date was to run nine marathons in nine days. To do this, he created his own itinerary and selected marathon events in Austria and neighbouring countries which took him on a new route every day. Another goal for the year 2023 is to complete a marathon in less than three hours for the first time.
In the interview, Markus talks about his experiences, his goals and gives tips.
You already ran marathons before you were diagnosed with diabetes. What does it mean to you to be able to continue pursuing your favourite sport?
After my first marathon, I actually never wanted to run another marathon. But never say never! When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I wanted to run all the more. Had I known back then that I would be doing so much more and all this with diabetes, I wouldn’t have thought that was possible. For me, sport means a lot in everyday life, also in terms of focused training. Running in particular is a passion of mine that I wouldn’t want to miss. As long as I am able to run, that is what I will do. And always with my sweet companion diabetes.
What is particularly important to you in terms of your diabetes therapy?
Being flexible. I plan my training into my daily routine as best as I can, but the plan doesn’t always work out. I don’t want to have to wait forever before I can run because I just happen to be out of the ideal range in terms of blood glucose levels.
How do you use the mylife Loop during sport?
At the beginning, I had to feel my way and see how I had to change the target values in order to be able to deliver my performance. Meanwhile, I can do this more or less blindfolded.
What do you think of the AID system in general?
It is an asset and a relief for me in sport, and in everyday life anyway.
How does mylife Loop contribute to this?
I set my target values higher for long sessions, be it running, walking or cycling. mylife Loop works accordingly, supporting during this period or correcting afterwards. Especially at night after long sessions, it is convenient for me to increase the target values slightly and then not run the risk of getting a hypo. That was something I had to learn. Because mylife Loop is so easy to understand and use, I quickly figured it out and believe that anyone can manage it.
What are your goals for the future?
To continue enjoying the sport and to do so without any injuries. My biggest goal at the moment is to complete a marathon in less than three hours. And then I still have a few ideas in the back of my mind that I hope to be able to realise sooner or later. For example, how far can I run in 24 hours? When I’m on a treadmill under medical and sports science supervision, I would like to know how many hours I can run continuously and what distance I can cover.
And my biggest non-measurable goal is to motivate as many people as possible to exercise. Exercise is fun, helps you relax and unwind. It is healthy, can be done alone or in groups/teams and those who exercise regularly have a better general well-being.
What message would you like to pass on to others?
Everything starts with a first step. Sometimes when I’m unsure and don’t know whether I should do something, I think to myself: why not just try it out? It could be wonderful after all, and in any case it will be yet another experience! However, I don’t think bungee jumping without a rope is a good idea (Markus laughs).
So if you’ve been planning something for a long time but still lack the courage, I can only advise you to simply give it a try. What is the worst and what is the best that can happen? If the worst is not that bad, then it will definitely be great. And when I know what the best thing is that can happen, I think about that and then I’m usually pretty close to the best thing. In other words, just do it, watch yourself and listen to your body. That way, everyone can achieve their personal goals, whether in sports or otherwise!