Melanie Stephenson - Part 1 of her journey!

Hello, my name is Mel Stephenson and in the forth coming weeks I’ll be updating my blog on the journey to reaching my goals in my sport of athletics and maintaining a healthy diet along the way.  I’ve been participating in athletics- doing the 100m and 200m sprints since I was 17, gaining international accolades along the way. However, what makes me different to other athletes in my achievements is that I have had insulin dependent diabetes since I was 13. Therefore I have a good knowledge of how insulin interacts with sport, diet and general exercise and the importance of varying, but good blood sugar levels to train and compete at my best. I also have a degree in fashion design with my specialist area lying in sports performance wear. So I have a big passion for sport but meanwhile maintaining a feminine physique.

At the moment I am a month away from racing at the Welsh Athletics Championships to be held in the middle of June. I have already started the athletics season with my first race at a British Athletics League in the premiere division the week before last. The season began well- in fact the quickest I’ve ever started a season. So the next blog will go into more detail about this, including my race preparation and pre-event diet.

Leading up to the competition my training week usually consists of 3 track sessions- which are usually a mixture of different types of running depending on how close to the season I am. At the moment 2 out of 3 sessions are pure speed sessions, often one of those will be technical. The final track session will be speed endurance- more specific to my 200m event. Another 2 of my sessions in the week will be lifting sessions, usually about 7 exercises per session. These go in 4 week cycles to best compliment the track session at the time. At this time of year lifting sessions are also geared towards speed maintenance, so each exercise will be repeated quick and explosively within their sets. The final two sessions are core stability, many of which are featured around pelvic stability to maintain good posture whilst running.

With regards to weight lifting, whilst I want to lift heavy weights explosively I don’t want to gain too much muscle mass or excessive weight. This is because at the end of the day my first objective is to move around a track as quickly as possible. Excess weight probably wouldn’t affect the 100m too much but the 200m would most definitely suffer. So this is where my diet comes in.

After 10 years on it, I find that insulin can vary the results of training. However, being on an insulin pump has given me almost as good control as when I was first on injections. I am able to tailor my insulin to the demands of my body, which are generally influenced by the effects of my training. For example, the evening following a training session I barely need any insulin at all. But on non-training days I need a little bit more. This process of understanding and tailoring that allows me to eat smaller meals frequently throughout the day. As a result this gives me relatively consistent blood sugar levels, which is advisable for diabetics and non-diabetics alike. Eating like this also provides me with the energy I need for training.

As I said before, my next blog will go into more detail about my competitive racing and my diet, which as you know is influenced by my diabetes.

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