Freddy Freeman about his experience of the Animas Sports Weekend in May 2016

17 August 2016 | Freddy Freeman

Category: Sports and Exercise

Freddy Freeman about his experience of the Animas Sports Weekend in May 2016

From “Recreational Sport Participants” and “Local Park Joggers” to “Iron Men/Ladies” and Marathon Maniacs on Foot or Pedals

Last year my Dietician suggested I might like to try attending the Animas Sport Weekend, this was because I had discovered exercise and sport late in life. In February 2016 I received an e-mail from my dietician informing me there was an event being organised in May. As I have heard it fills up fast, therefore I knew I needed to be quick. I applied straight away but to my dismay, I was informed it was booked up. The good news was that I was still quick enough to get a spot on the waiting list. Then, to my surprise, I got an e-mail mid-April offering me a place for the weekend 7/8 May. Up until this point I hadn’t really thought much about it, was it just another training session/lecture where people who haven’t got Type 1 tell you how you feel and how to deal with it?

So, I arrived at Loughborough University full of apprehension, telling myself if it doesn’t look good I could be home for tea. Well right from the word go, the whirlwind weekend began; I was met by a couple of “Animas Heroes” wearing black t-shirts, who are T1Diabetics and have been to the weekend before. There are equally friendly faces wearing blue t-shirts who were “Animas Staff” and there to assist with the logistics of the weekend. Finally I met some ladies in green bibs who were Specialist Diabetic Nurses. The big difference with this weekend was that I found myself in a room surrounded by people who ended up wearing white t-shirts like me – all T1Diabetics.

I very quickly realised that we were from “Recreational Sport Participants” and “Local Park Joggers” to “Iron Men/Ladies” and Marathon Maniacs on Foot or Pedals. There’s even a nutter that runs across deserts “because he can” – Animas Hero Roddy Riddle. But black or white t-shirt, we are all T1D’s.

And so we begin, Dr Gallen proceeds to explain that anything is possible with the right strategy, it’s just a matter of having the individual fitting plan. But this is where it differs from anything I’ve been involved in before. We then proceed to put theory into practice being surrounded by so many T1D’s while doing strenuous exercise - all of us at our own pace. It was perfectly okay to get it wrong because that’s how you get it right next time; everybody else is in the same boat and there is always medical staff around to help. There were fifty of us and we all had our own answer to the same questions.

We are all different and yet so similar. After the physical exercise we were able to discuss resulting lows and highs with people who know where you’re coming from and who were giving constructive advice on how to deal with it. More importantly how to PREPARE for the next time you want to take on a sporting challenge or just do physical activity without hypo/hyper reaction.

We then came to the evening meal and a motivational speech; this is where the desert runner, Roddy Riddle comes in. He shared with us his experiences and how he managed his blood glucose levels while preparing and competing in the Marathon des Sables as well as the 6633 Ultra Ice Marathon. Examples like him showed me that anything is possible with the right plan and positive attitude. Needless to say I didn’t go home for tea.

I stayed for the Sunday session still trying to absorb information as I went along. There was more physical practice of the theory from the previous day in the form of circuit training and its effects on blood sugars – which are different from the endurance exercise we did the previous day. Afterwards we had a Dietician present on Nutrition and Exercise. Another eye opener for me. The discussion after the lecture enabled us to ask questions which helped me even more to make sense of the facts we were given.

This is what, for me, made the Animas Sports Weekend such an enjoyable experience and has given me new horizons to aim for. Before this weekend I have found keeping fit difficult, as balancing sugars and exercise for more than an hour has not been possible. I have now been given the knowledge, reassurance and the proof that it can be done as well as meeting people who do it.

As a person who wouldn’t normally attend this type of event, I am so glad I did and want to thank everyone involved in brightening my future and of course making it a fantastic weekend. If you are reading this as a T1D who hasn’t been on an Animas Sports Weekend, you really are missing out!