Run Wales will shortly be launching ‘Step into Action’, a social walk-to-run group in partnership with Diabetes UK Cymru, aimed at encouraging people with diabetes to get active. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be hearing from four runners with type 2 diabetes about what inspired them to start running and what impact it’s had on their diabetes.
Andrew was 26 stone and extremely unfit when he found out he had type 2 diabetes. It was June 2014, and the diagnosis came with a warning from his GP that, if Andrew didn’t do something about his condition, he would be lucky to survive another 10–15 years.
Andrew initially started controlling his diabetes by improving his diet, and by September 2014 had reduced his HbA1c to within safe levels. Andrew says, “after I’d lost about 6 stone my weight-loss plateaued, so I started to think of ways to help reduce it further.” Andrew decided to take up running, despite having never been a runner. “Even when I was mildly fit in my youth, I had never been able to run, so I began with the ‘Couch to 5k’ programme.”
Andrew’s love of running grew from there and he has been a keen runner ever since. He says, “running has been a lifesaver for both my psychological and physical well-being, and I’ve met some incredible people.” Andrew adds, “my diabetes is completely under control and I have developed a much healthier social life and work/life balance.”
Some of Andrew’s running highlights include running the Chester half-marathon in under 2 hours and run/walking up the Rock of Gibraltar having not been able to walk up it two years earlier. His biggest challenge comes at the end of April when he takes on the London Marathon.
Andrew acknowledges that people may feel intimidated about taking up running, or fear it is a ‘solo’ activity. Andrew advises, “the truth couldn’t be more different. Attend your local Park Runs and you will soon see how sociable running is, and that runners of all abilities are welcome. There will also be people from running clubs and you can speak to them informally about what they offer.” Andrew is a member of Northwich Running Club, an extremely friendly group for mixed ability runners.
During all this, Andrew’s health has continued to improve and, in February 2019, he was told that he could be removed from the diabetic register. To anyone with diabetes or pre-diabetes, Andrew says, “get active. Your life will be so much better for it!”
You are living proof of that, Andrew – congratulations!
Our thanks to author and established medical communicator, Philippa Cates, for speaking to Andrew and writing this blog. Philippa Cates is no stranger to the mental and physical challenges of running and has written a book about this wonderfully exhausting pastime. The Marathon celebrates this fantastic achievement but also highlights in a comedic way the potential pitfalls of taking part. Her book is available to buy here.