When it comes to certain aspects of training, diabetics needs to be aware that “we are different”, and the normal approach doesn’t apply.
Days off or resting phases is one of those situations. At our training plans, we don’t schedule days off unless there is any specific situation with each individual, with our approach you should be training every day, and let the days off comes naturally, be it for a professional or social commitment, or if you feel just too tired on any specific day(s), for those situations is OK to take the rest.
And how does this differs for Diabetics athletes? Why can’t it be just the same?
If the diabetic athlete trains everyday, to a point that he is forced to take a day off, that means this athlete was training hard or long enough to really create a huge insulin sensibility, than out of a sudden, you take the day off, only sit on the coach and have a few extras snacks.
This is aggressive for your body to handle, and your blood glucose levels won’t be very stable at all, since in a matter of a day, you are shifting a healthy/fit routine, to the couch potato one. Is very likely that for the later meals of that day, you will require more insulin than the usual, and is likely that you will need more insulin over night, or your blood glucose levels will be fairly high in the morning after, which creates that tired feel, and you think you need one more day off, and this can get very hard to get out.
How to handle the deep fatigue then? Active Recovery!
If you are into a consistent training routine, one training session, seven times a week, you will be way better by taking 2-3 easy days, than a complete day off. The active recovery workout only needs to be 20-30min long, if possible, include some short 20sec all out effort to work on your hormonal balance and increase metabolism (which helps insulin sensivity), stick to the diet you are used to, don’t overeat thinking that the extra calories will restore your glycogen stores, as with the reduced training and the usual diet, you will be carboloading anyways, no need to force it.
Then after 2-3 days of very easy training, see if you can get back into your plan, focus on getting the volume done first, then slowly build up the intensity to normal levels.
Other than keeping your blood glucose levels down, this approach has also benefits for the non-diabetic athlete. You get something done every day, this avoids the athlete to make up for the lost sessions, as highly motivated athletes are likely to train harder after a forced day off. You also keep your metabolism high, avoid that bloated feel, and stay loose, which makes easier for your return into the plan, then once you are settle into it, avoid to get into that deep fatigue level again.
Taper is nothing else than freshening up for a race. You can do it in many diffent ways:
1) Reduce training intensity
2) Reduce training volume
3) Decrease training frequency (session per week)
4) Taking extra days off
For diabetics, this order is exactly what you should do for your taper. You should be able to taper based on #1 and #2 until 3 days out of race day, then you can do less sessions, especially if the race requires tapering, and of course, as always, avoid the days off, even a 15min easy jog is much better than completely rest.
For that reason, since you can’t have an aggressive resting period, you might want to start your taper a little bit earlier, we usually do a 2 week taper, so for diabetics athletes, I would recommend starting reducing intensity with 2 ½ week to your race day.
All in all, just make sure you don’t follow general training guidelines that you feel are not right for diabetics, as a diabetic, you are different, and requires a different training approach, let your coach knows all the ins and outs of diabetes and don’t be afraid to create something that works specifically for you, but is not “right” in terms of conventional approach, since you are different in a way!