Sugar Run: Running With Diabetes

By: Mikyla Khan

 Type 1 diabetes is considered rare and only affects about 5% of people. Diabetes is a condition in which the pancreas produces little to no insulin. It is caused by an autoimmune reaction that destroys beta cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. The process could go on for months or years before symptoms appear. This happened to be the case with Jenks Sophomore athlete, Wyatt Smith

Around the age of 6, Smith began feeling very sick and always seemed to be thirsty. He was showing signs of being a diabetic. To Smith, diabetes is just an extra step in his normal daily routine. This would prove to be an obstacle when Smith picked up running as a new activity.

“I’ve been living with this for ten years, so it is pretty normal to me,” says Smith, “I have to give myself insulin to make sure everything I eat will digest properly.” 

Smith began competitively running in seventh grade and competes for Jenks’ cross country and track teams. He was inspired by his father, who participated in high school and college track, to start running.

The trouble with running is that it can be very difficult to keep blood sugar levels in check while in a race. Smith has to stay one step ahead of the game to make sure his blood sugar levels stay in a healthy range.

“If my blood sugar drops, I can pass out,” says Smith, “When I go out and run five or six miles, my blood sugar will drop and that is just because I am doing a physical activity and my body burns more nutrients at a faster rate.”

It is essential for Smith’s coaches to know that he is diabetic. His coaches have always been very understanding and supportive. In the case that something were to happen during a race, Smith knows that his coaches and teammates are aware of what the situation might be and that he can receive help.

“Don’t be afraid to say yes, don’t be afraid to do new things,” says Smith, “I feel like you grow most when you’re out of your comfort zone. You learn a lot about yourself and your body, especially with your health when you are diabetic.”

Never be afraid to talk about your conditions, because they do not hold you back. Smith says “Be prepared, it’s not going to be easy. Push yourself, because if you want to live a little and try new things while having health issues, it is just another little blockade to jump over. Remind yourself why you are doing it and what you want to do with it, and that will keep you going.”

Despite being diabetic, there are other athletes that compete at a professional level. Check out Team Novo Nordisk, an American all-diabetic team of runners, cyclists, and triathletes!

You can learn more about diabetes with the CDC, American Diabetes Association, and American Association of Diabetes Educators.

Check out the Sugar Run mini documentary on the Trojan Torch Youtube page.

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