Running well with Type 2 Diabetes – a personal story

Bréda Cormack is running the Dublin marathon for Diabetes, having been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes at 35 years old. She is based in Canada. She recounts her personal story of Type 2 Diabetes below.


“I never thought that I would become diabetic.  I’m young, physically fit and healthy.   I was so upset when I found out.   What’s worse is that I’m type two and completely different from the stereotype of a Type 2.

There is no educational support or support groups here in Canada that are applicable to my situation.  All of the information on Type 2 discusses diet and exercise however I already exercise 2 – 4 hrs a day so my diagnosis really didn’t make any sense and was incredibly disheartening”


Photo: Bréda at 32km in Edmonton Marathon 2015

“But, I’m a pretty determined person so I decided to turn a negative into a positive.  To change my frame of mind, I began considering what else have I might have put limits on or hadn’t considered possible before the diagnosis.    My first thought was running.  My aunt in Kildare is a former marathon runner.  (22 under her belt I believe)  I remember her taking me out for a 6 mile run at 16 years old with her running group and it was brutal!  I admired her but never in a million years considered running one myself.   So, I decided running a marathon would be a positive place to focus my energy and I signed up for my first marathon that same year.

I’m not fast.  Running long distances and maintaining blood sugar levels is incredibly difficult. And many times I second guessed my decision.  (usually on any run over 13 miles.) There were tears, blood and lots of sweat lost along the way”

We asked Breda to share what works for her on the food front for her training schedule

Pre run: it depends on the day but it’s usually –
1 slice of bread with peanut butter a half of a banana and an electrolyte tablet in 2 cups of water 2hrs  before the race.
During a long run:  I have a variety of snacks depending on the distance. I struggle with consistency in blood sugar so I carry a lot of things.  I carry my meter,  cliff bars, protein bars, GU gummies and don’t laugh….. another peanut butter sandwich as a back up.  I know it’s odd and some of my running friends laugh but it works for me. Hydration pack is electrolyte tablets.
Post run: This is the most important one for me.  It’s usually a protein smoothie ( plain Greek yogurt, handful of blueberries and half a banana with vanilla whey protein powder).  If I’m out I try to pick an item that has an equal protein to carb ratio to prevent a blood sugar crash.  After long runs bacon and eggs or an omelette are also high on my list of favourites”.


Sinead Powell, Diabetes Ireland advises “If you want  to run a marathon or undertake a new exercise and training plan, visit or and speak to your Diabetes team.

What about medications Bréda?

“I take Metformin at the moment morning and night, I’m not on insulin.

Blood sugar!!!! It effects everything. When I exercise my blood sugar goes up into the double digits.  (Not good for an endurance sport. ) My heart rate skyrockets when blood sugar is high too.  I don’t take insulin so the only way for me to lower my blood sugar is to slow down or adjust my pace.  Then when I slow down my body finally decides to catch up producing insulin and I get a sugar low.  The balance is difficult. Every time I think I have it figured out something happens and I’m back to square one. It can be heartbreaking some days.  I’ve recognised that every run is different, every run is not going to be the greatest and sometimes it’s just about getting out the door.  I’m not fast but I’m determined”

So, has running help you and your Type 2 Bréda?

“Finishing that first race taught me that I am limitless not limited.  I did something that most people wouldn’t even consider.  I changed my own stereotype of what this disease is and I know the people I connect with along the way  experience that too. I’m hoping Dublin will be my 5th marathon in three years.  (I might sign up for one here in Edmonton first.)   Each time I finish a race it just reinforces that initial feeling and keeps me moving forward with positive momentum one step at a time.  So, technically every race I do is for diabetes. 😊”

A word from Dr. Anna Clarke, Head of Research at Diabetes Ireland

There is no registrar in Ireland providing us with information on how many people are diagnosed with Diabetes, the type of Diabetes or more statistics such as the overall health of the person at diagnosis. However we do know that many of our Type 2 community carry excess weight, especially around the middle but not all people with Type 2 are overweight and unfit as this story highlights. Research from Newcastle University in 2011 revealed that weight-loss in some people brought about a “reversal” of Type 2 diabetes but it must be noted that the study only recruited people with “stones” to lose and reversal was only 53% for those that lost less than 10 kg. There is currently a much larger study looking into the reversal of diabetes and we look forward to the result of the DIRECT trial which should be out early next year.

We, at Diabetes Ireland, are working hard to educate the general public on Diabetes and remove the blame culture and stigma associated with Type 2 which is less prevalent for  other conditions such as Heart Disease and Cancer. #noblame