Sub 25 Minute 5K

Mission Failed – Running a Sub 25K With Type 1 Diabetes

“Every failure is a step to success”

William Whewell

The more observant amongst you will have noticed that my fortnightly updates – documenting my following of a 10 week sub 25 minute 5K training plan -ended rather abruptly after week 6.

Real life decided to get in the way sadly. The following meant that time, energy and motivation were in short supply:

  • Gastroenteritis affected the rest of my family.
  • I felt ill myself, and felt totally fatigued.
  • Icy weather made it unsafe to run at times.
  • I developed a couple of blisters on my feet.

The ice and blisters were frustrating. Before type 1 diabetes I doubt they would have stopped me. However, due to the very real risks of the condition I find myself resonating with Niki Lauda’s attitude towards unnecessary risk. (At least as it is portrayed in the movie Rush.)


 “The risks were totally unacceptable. You were prepared to die. To me, that’s losing. “

Niki Lauda to James Hunt, in the movie Rush (2013)

James Hunt won the world Formula 1 title in 1976. He was assisted by his rival, Lauda, taking the decision to pull out of the last race of the season due to adverse weather conditions.

Lauda (the champion in 1975) went on to win 2 more word titles – in 1977 and 1984. Its a lesson I’m trying to take on with my type 1 diabetes and running. Its better to stay healthy and be able to run in the long term, than force myself to run when I think the risks are too high in the short term. Of course, running in icy conditions, or potentially aggravating blisters on my feet are both considerably less risky than racing in Formula 1. However, the possible rewards are also considerably less.

Enough of the Excuses… What 
Actually Happened?

The heading of this post was a major spoiler, but I decided to go to Wammy parkrun yesterday and try to run 5k in under 25 minutes. If anyone had taken note of the amount I ran in the weeks leading up to this, they would have said it was ludicrous. Its been playing on my mind though – I just needed to attempt it for my own peace of mind.

As any sane person would expect, the attempt failed. But as a pleasant surprise, it was enough to give me confidence I am not far off achieving my goal.

It was near the half way point at the 12 minute mark before my body gave up on me. I stopped, walked, and reached the halfway point at 13 minutes and 30 seconds. This meant sub 25 minutes was still not impossible, as The Wammy is an out-and-back course with a slight downhill return.

With the sense of possibility reinvigorating me, I turned back towards the start and began to run again. But… I just couldn’t maintain the pace. I had to stop and walk quite a few times as my legs were just not up to the job. My final time was 28 minutes and 40 seconds. I was quite surprised it was that low given the amount of time I’d been walking, so I don’t think the time I need to make up is as high as that time suggests.

I feel this tells me I have the pace to do a sub 25 minute 5k. I just need to get the consistency back in my training so I have the stamina to maintain it. This is a major positive, and more than I was expecting. Hopefully it shows the benefit of just trying things, even if you do have doubts.

Was The Training Plan A Failure?

No, I don’t think so. I believe it would have worked if I’d managed to complete the last 4 weeks. The ‘failure’ was my inability to see the plan through. I’m not even taking that as a failure though. If I’d ran through the things that occurred I probably would have lost a lot of motivation and have ended up taking a much longer break from running.

The tempo runs and interval sessions definitely had a positive impact on my speed, and I’ll be keeping them up.

What Next?

Quite a few events that will get in the way of any serious training schedules – namely weddings, stag dos and a holiday – loom large over March, April and May. So I’m not going to be too ambitious in terms of running goals just yet. In fact, my goal for now is simply to return to jogging 3 times a week more often than not.

A change in circumstances mean that attending parkrun is something I’ll now be able to do most weeks. Given this I believe I’ll crack the sub 25 minute time before too long. If I haven’t by June I will start another plan and go from there.

In the meantime, I’ll keep reviewing books that are useful for anybody affected by type 1 diabetes. Of course, I’ll also let you all know when I finally crack the sub 25 minute 5k.

Thank you to everyone who reads this blog, and has talked to me about it so far.

It has helped immeasurably and I’m feeling in a good place given I was only diagnosed 10 months ago. Hopefully all the events I have documented so far are just the first small steps into something much bigger, and I can play my small role in showing people that a type 1 diabetes diagnosis is something that can be met head on.

About Marcus Pezzaioli

I started www.diabeticstokebloke.com in September 2018 to document my attempts to get fit after a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes in April the same year. I believe sharing my story can help anyone who is afraid to exercise with type 1 diabetes, and show that it is not as complicated as it may appear from other sources of information out there. If I can do it, with no CGM and on MDI, starting out as somebody who does not fit the athletic profile whatseover; then anybody can.
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