Managing Diabetes—It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint


Editor’s Note: Dana is a member of the Beyond Type Run 2022 team—a team of nearly 50 people living with type 1 diabetes who ran the 2022 NYC Marathon on November 6. They’re on a mission to raise awareness and funds for type 1 diabetes, with fundraising open through the end of 2022. Congratulate Dana by making a gift on her fundraising page!

A few months after I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D), I was dropped from my club soccer team.

Before my diagnosis I had slowed down, lost almost 20 pounds, was having blurry vision, was extremely thirsty and I couldn’t make it through soccer practice without using the restroom (all classic warning signs of T1D). 

An eleven year old girl wearing a hospital gown lays in a hospital bed, an IV in her arm, but she is smiling
Dana, the day she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes

After my diagnosis, gaining my strength back took time. Unfortunately, my strength didn’t come back fast enough for soccer tryouts. 

It ignited my fire

Tears welled in my eyes as my calm and well-poised endocrinologist started getting angry and raising her voice when I shared the unfortunate news with her. 

“That’s discrimination,” she said. “That’s against the law!” 

My endocrinologist quickly laid out the process of pressing charges; however, my parents and I agreed that this wasn’t the route we wanted to take. But seeing the passion and fight in my endocrinologist instilled a fire in me that’s still with me to this day. 

I’m more than capable of doing everything others can. 

I don’t have to prove it, but I probably always will.

Running over the years

Close up photo of a teenage girl with a blonde pony tail, sitting cross legged on the ground, checking her blood sugar by pricking her finger
Dana checking her blood sugar before a high school run

When I was first diagnosed at 11 years old, I immediately took ownership of my diabetes. I gave my own injections, researched the insulin pump I wanted and didn’t let it stop me from living boldly and freely. 

Since then, there have been highs and lows in life and in my blood sugars, but technological advancements, a support system, a really big God and running continue to carry me through life’s challenges. 

In high school, I fell in love with running when I joined cross county and track and field. It brought competition and passion to exercise. My most proud diabetes moment is running 11 miles at almost 11,000 feet during altitude training camp and keeping my blood sugar in range the whole time. Running came to a halt when I got spine surgery in my senior year of high school. 

When I got to college, running came back into my life with a whole new meaning. It no longer served as a competitive sport, but as my escape from stress and an outlet that helped clear my mind and helped me feel powerful. 

Training for this marathon is a comeback from diabetes that had 11-year-old Dana thinking she might not gain her strength back.

Why I’m running the NYC marathon 

Over the years I’ve learned the importance of managing diabetes with endurance because managing a chronic disease is a marathon, not a sprint. 

Diabetes and training for a marathon have a lot in common. They both require trial and error, proper fueling, highs and lows, a support system, time management and so much more. 

Training for a marathon with diabetes—now that takes a true badass to commit to. 

Dana during a run in college

I believe that we are called to push limits and break barriers and that’s what running this marathon means to me. I’m excited to put my endurance to the test alongside 49 other individuals with type 1 diabetes and show the world that we live beyond every day.

WRITTEN BY Dana Simmons, POSTED 10/13/22, UPDATED 05/22/23

Dana Simmons was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and celiac disease in October 2010 at 11 years old. She is a communications professional and is passionate about being a voice for people in need. Dana lives in San Diego, is plant-based, uses the Dexcom and Tandem t-slim insulin pump and you can find her on Peloton @danasimmons.