I am still in the “foundation building phase” of my training regimen. I am definitely finding the tedium of not climbing routes and problems at my limit to be a challenge, but I keep reminding myself that this often overlooked phase is critical to getting stronger. I am now looking at the effects of blood glucose levels in regards to various aspects of my training:

This past April (2011) I sustained a grade III rupture of my A2 pulley in my ring finger, left hand. I definitely lost a lot of strength since I had to completely stop climbing for most of the summer and then once I started again, I had to really baby it. The tendons in your fingers are very delicate and CANNOT sustain the “climb through the pain” approach that we tend to confer onto knees and shoulders and the like! The good news is that a debilitating injury is not the end of the road IF you let it heal properly (translation: REST REST and more REST combined with BG management!). My goal was to avoid having to tape this injury after it healed and so far, so good–it feels about 90% solid. I am confident that the blood sugar control I had over the summer helped the injury heal much faster and more thoroughly.

In regards to blood sugar, I feel like 140-160 seems to be the ideal range for climbing and training because there is enough there to not worry about going low when pushing it hard but it is still within a reasonable balance. Eating 2-3 hours before is a good fit for me–energy but no bloated, “full” feeling. I try and keep my pre-training meal small–usually a piece of fruit with a little yogurt and granola. Post workout I have a Clifbar “builders bar” (their protein bar) which is 20g of organic protein and 30 g of low GI carbs…These are definitely my recovery food of choice because they cover all the bases, and don’t leave you feeling “heavy” like many protein shakes do.

I am on a sliding scale for Humalog (insulin) 1unit=10g of carbs. I dial it back a little since I am more sensitive after a workout–2units covers my Builder Bar nicely and even leaves a little left over for me to indulge in some Dunkin Donuts coffee and a handful of raw almonds! Taking insulin directly following a workout is tricky because I don’t want to dip low, but having insulin in my system immediately (15-30 minutes) following the end of your workout provides an optimal environment for muscle growth and recovery. It has been a challenge to not be afraid of the lows; but backing off the dose has allowed me to get it right.

Avoiding lows: I always try and make sure that I eat more than 2 hours prior to training. This way my bolus has peaked and any lows are going to be much “gentler”. I also snack on low Glycemic Index foods during my workout if its longer than usual to keep my blood glucose stabilized. Raw nuts are hard to beat–especially almonds. Post training, dial back the dose and eat a little more of a protein-rich food–and TEST after a little while to see what direction the BG is heading! This will help you anticipate a low, and correct it before it throws you off completely.


Next posting will be about a few specific exercises I am using to target my weak spots as I train for the 365 Challenge!