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  • Writer's pictureNatalia Roman Lopez

Ultra Trail Lago d'Orta - validating hypotheses

Was it the body or was it the grit? Was it the fresh legs after a summer without racing or the excitement to finally share trails with like-minded people? I’d say it was all of it. And more. So much more.

The only way to objectively compare performances in mountain running is by running the same route twice - and even then conditions might make the comparison useless. Therefore I can’t say Ultra Trail Lago d’Orta was my best 60k ever. But it felt like that. And feelings are valid parameters.

Earlier this year I decided to eliminate carbohydrates from the diet in an attempt to achieve superb control of my type1 diabetes. Over the summer I was astonished to experience a much faster recovery time after long days, a lack of hunger while running, and, contrary to what many had forecasted, even levels of energy throughout long days.

So what happened last Saturday at Ultra Trail Lago d’Orta?

> First of all, only the determination and love of the organizers made it possible for us, runners, to stand at that starting line. Bravo!!

> Second, despite the anticipation, I managed to take off at a sustainable pace. Trusting my race started after the first 20k. And it did! Check that progression

> Fat is a great source of fuel for ultra runners. I was running on fat from the start and wanted to explore its power. Despite carrying plenty of low-carb food, I ran the whole race, that is 60k over 8 hours, without ingesting any food.

> Mentally, it was very rewarding to experience this endless energy. It allowed me to run the late small ‘hidden’ uphills, to sing like a maniac during that forest downhill, and to suffer through the last flat 3km. It hurt and I enjoyed every bit of it!

What about the blood glucose? Check the curve! What about ketones? Never above 2.0 (testing ketones in blood!) What about hypoglycemia? I did treat mild hypoglycemia during the second half of the race - which tells me I should cut basal insulin a bit more next time. I took a total of 50gr of powder glucose and dextrose tablets.

I hope my data helps debunk the point about ketosis and endurance exercise putting type one diabetics at risk for DKA.

To those claiming ‘lack of energy’ is a undesired side-effect of ketosis... you should have seen the runners hooked to their gels as if their life depended on it... wait, it actually did

To be clear...

> I never had a symptoms of hypoglycemia. I treated lows based on Dexcom measurements.

> adapting to fat burning is something my body has been doing for the last 5 years of endurance racing.

> I had breakfast with the corresponding insulin. Experience tells me this is not a problem in fat burning mode.

> Morning basal insulin was reduced from 7U to 4U. Night basal insulin after the race was reduced from 5U to 4U

> I was not starving after the race. My post-race meal consisted of some fish and spinach

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