Ironman Triathlon Training and Diabetes, The Second 10 Weeks

(Background: I’ve entered a long-distance (Ironman) triathlon, the Outlaw, in Nottingham, July 7th. A post on my first 10 weeks of Ironman training and diabetes is here.)

The second 10 weeks of my Ironman training were marred by a terrible cough I developed in week eight which continued for three weeks. I got some antibiotics but all I could manage was a one hour turbo session on the bike that week and I took the decision to just take the week off.

This was, needless to say, a bit of a disaster. I couldn’t do a 100 mile bike ride I’d entered in the Peak District with my fellow Outlaw wannabe, Rhodri, who’d come up from the Big Smoke to do it as well (though he’d had a similar cough the week before) and I also took a day off work that week.

For the next two weeks I continued to feel rough but restarted training. Tried a couple of longer bike rides (120km) and just felt dreadful to the extent that I started to worry that my training wasn’t going to plan and question whether I was going to complete it. (I’m writing this a week before the event so I still have to do it …!)

The upshot was that I felt this cough put me back at least two weeks, quite possibly three. I lost a lot of strength and fitness. Back in the pool, on the bike or out running I just wasn’t at my pre-illness levels. Hmmmm.

The weather meant I also couldn’t get out on occasions when I’d have liked in which case I did say 2 x 2.5 hours on the turbo trainer instead. Was also away for work on a couple of occasions but otherwise I was now regularly doing the plan. Ok, I might not have done a run after a long bike or my third swim session of the week but other than that I was doing ok-ish.

The plan said to do an Olympic distance tri in week eight but I didn’t. There weren’t that many around mid-April and to be honest I felt continuing getting some training in (had I not been ill) would have been a better option at that point.

The total number of hours training was still more than in the first 10 weeks and I was still trying to follow Don Fink’s Competitive Programme. I was starting to get the feeling though that it’s really meant for people starting at a higher level as, while I was improving, I felt when it was suggested I do a bike ride or run for X hours I should be covering more ground.


My blood glucose levels were raging high during my cough so I followed the DAFNE guidelines and checked my sugar levels regularly giving myself an extra dose of insulin every now and then.

My sleep was still being hampered by low sugar levels during the night as a result of doing lots of exercise and not turning down my insulin pump before going to bed. I’ve since learnt the hard way.

So, by the end of the 10 weeks, having recovered from my cough, I felt weaker and a bit worried if I’m honest.


By Robin Eyre