Cross-Training & Diabetes Management

Words & Photos by Lauren Salko

As a professional skier, it is safe to say that I love being active! For me, things can get a little old if all I do is sport-specific training and ski season does not last all year long. The best way to perform my best in the season is to cross-train in the offseason. Cross-training is participating in other activities in order to improve results or ability in another sport. When people think of cross-training, most people think of weightlifting. For me, lifting is super important but it is not the end all be all. I love cross-training in many different ways.

On any given day you can find me swimming, running, biking, rock climbing, lifting weights, doing high-intensity interval training, or ski touring. I love competing in triathlons which also serves as cross-training for skiing. As an athlete with type 1 diabetes, cross-training can be a little more confusing. My insulin needs are different for all of these different activities. Here are some of my methods for managing my type 1 diabetes while cross-training.

Aerobic Activity 

For example, when I mountain bike.Mountain Biking

What works for me: I will often need to have a snack part way through and cut down my basal rate on my insulin pump.

Anaerobic Activity 

When I do high-intensity interval training, such as plyometric training.

weight liftingWhat works for me: I often need to bolus because short bursts of high-intensity exercise tend to cause my blood sugar to rise.

Mixed Activity

Ski touring consists of walking up the mountain on skis and then skiing down. This creates periods of time when it is a cardio activity and a few minutes of serious adrenaline.skiing

What works for me: I often need snacks throughout the day to maintain BG levels.

The most important thing for me is checking my blood sugar often so that I make sure it is a range where I can both enjoy the activity I am doing and get as much out of it athletically as I can! I also may need to plan ahead and put pump sites in places where it won’t get in the way. Mixing up your workout with cross-training is a great way to improve in your primary sport, have fun, and prevent injury.

An Extra Note from CIM: So how does this relate to running? Cross training will help to improve overall strength and flexibility, which will ultimately help you go faster and farther. Of course, when choosing a cross training activity, it should address your needs and goals. If you want to gain more flexibility, try yoga or a daily stretching routine. If you want to gain more strength, a general weight training program may be the right choice. Regardless of what you do, there will be benefits. However, remember these activities should be in addition to your running program. Finally, remember that running is primarily a lower-body workout, meaning if you choose other activities that focus on the lower body, you need to give your legs time to recover.

Don’t forget to register for TeamCIM’s Ottawa Race Weekend! 

About Lauren Salko

Lauren Salko is 25 years old and has had Type 1 diabetes since she was young. She lives in Park City, Utah, but is originally from New York. Lauren races Ski Cross all over the world for the United States as a professional skier. When she is not traveling the globe in pursuit of the best powder day, Lauren coaches skiing and races triathlons with Riding On Insulin. Silas, Lauren’s diabetic alert dog, is her travel companion and best bud. You can follow Lauren’s adventures on her website, Facebook page, or Instagram.