How long have you had Type 1 + how long have you been running?
I was diagnosed with type 1 in 2005, the day after my 12th birthday. Even though I’ve had it for 14 years, it’s crazy to think how much I’m still learning. The same year I was diagnosed I went out for cross country. It was the first year we could go out for school sports and I didn’t want to miss out on that. Between middle school and high school I participated in cross country and track for seven years. In college, I still ran, but mostly as a way to relieve stress or just get away from school work. I grew to appreciate it more when I didn’t have to compete. After college and up until this point in my life I have completed six half marathons, and this past year I have focused more on being competitive again. Not competitive against others, but seeing just how far I can push myself.
Have you started training for the marathon yet?
I started my training plan 24 weeks before the marathon date. So far I haven’t had any challenges as I’ve been consistently running five to six days a week for a year and a half. Right now I’m focusing on keeping my base mileage, throwing some speed work in, and working on strength (one of my weaknesses in the past). In the past couple months I have also focused on switching to a more whole foods plant-based diet. This has been a game changer! I have noticed more predictable blood sugars, increased insulin sensitivity, more energy and I recover quick from my workouts. So I guess you could consider that a milestone for me!
How will you work training into your schedule as a teacher? Have you told your students yet?
I have a pretty set schedule as a paraprofessional at school, and my life revolves around routine. Normally I get my runs in after work, and my long runs are on Saturday mornings. I may have to change things up a little when school starts again, as I accepted an assistant coaching position for the high school cross country team! I’m really looking forward to this and fully understand it will make life even more busy. But it’s where my love of running started and I want to share that excitement with the team!
When I found out I made the team it was in the middle of my work day. I started jumping up and down and shouting words of excitement. The preschoolers I work with looked at me like I was nuts! I explained it to them the best I could, but a marathon is a little confusing to most 4-year-olds. They just know I’m going to run a lot and run far. The best reaction I get from them is when I wear sandals. Of course they notice my calloused toes and say “Miss Morgan, what’s wrong with your toes?!”
What changes will you have to make to your type 1 diabetic (T1D) management?
I don’t plan on making any changes, as I think I have a solid understanding of how to manage everything when I’m running. If you had asked me this a year ago I would have a completely different answer. I’ve had a lot of trial and error that has helped me since then.
Are you excited about being on a team + competing side by side with other Type 1 runners?
I am beyond excited to be on this team! Ever since reading about the marathon team last year, I became convinced that I had to run a marathon myself. I’ve also never been to New York, so this is going to be an amazing tour of the city! I have completed six half marathons. I’ve also done quite a few 5k races and 10k races. Although I enjoy running by myself, I love the energy on race days with all of the other runners.
How will this experience differ from everything else that you do?
This experience is probably not something I would have pushed myself towards a couple years ago. I want to have a positive influence on other type 1s in my community, and I have realized that it would be best to start making more connections with people. I used to avoid meeting new people, but I’m stepping out of my comfort zone.
Tell us about your involvement with Type One Run + what inspired you to apply to Beyond Type Run.
I found out about Type One Run last fall as I was searching for other runners with type 1. This is such a great support system for any type 1 that likes to run, is curious about running, or needs any advice. My hope is that I can get more type 1s in my community interested in running so that we can have a local support group.
There are many reasons I applied to be a part of Beyond Type Run. I had always told myself I wouldn’t run a marathon until there was a cure. This reason became ridiculous to me after reading about the team last year. I guess I hadn’t realized there were so many type 1s out there being diabadasses! All of their stories encouraged me to decide to run my first marathon this year. I want to show others in my community that this disease doesn’t have to stop us from doing normal and amazing things. My hope is that my story can help motivate other type 1s to live beyond—we can do anything!
Have you chosen diabetes tools to help with intense athletic training? How have they changed or been helpful?
The one thing I rely on the most for my training is my Dexcom G6. It is essential so I know what my blood sugar levels are doing during different types of runs. My Dexcom helps take the guesswork out of diabetes, and I don’t think I would have the courage to run as much as I do without it. It is a life changer and gives me so much more confidence out on the road!
Morgan Russell is raising money for Beyond Type 1 through Beyond Type Run—her fundraising will make a real difference in the lives of those living with T1D.
WRITTEN BY Morgan Russell, POSTED 06/18/19, UPDATED 11/10/22
Morgan is an avid runner and member of Type One Run! She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2005. She is motivated by all the other type 1 diabetics (T1Ds) out there and hopes to engage other T1Ds who might want to get more into running.