Stephen England is an ultra-runner living with type 1 diabetes. His Instagram (@rundiabetes) headline sums up his character perfectly:
“I run diabetes, diabetes does not run me!”
He runs for TeamType1, a branch of TeamNovoNordisk and competes in ultra-races around the world while encouraging and inspiring people living with type 1 that they can still live the life that they saw for themselves.
Be proud of who you are
“I’m now able to share back, and have that badge of honour that I never used to have. I am proud of having type 1, it wasn’t anything that my parents or I did wrong, it’s almost just bad luck to be diagnosed. So it’s how you choose to go from there – do you hide away or do you rise above and shoot for the stars. I did the latter with the team and with my running.”
We hear in the podcast that Stephen was diagnosed aged 14, and had to learn a new way of life monitoring and managing his blood sugar levels. The doctors were telling him what he now could and couldn’t do – which was devastating to hear and hard to deal with for a number of years.
You define your limits
Stephen launched himself into running in his mid-twenties electing to run his first 100-mile race in Leadville, Colorado the highest town in the US at over 10,000ft – notoriously one of the toughest races due to the altitude.
“I had this mindset, that links back to my initial doctors when I was diagnosed telling me that I wouldn’t be able to do a lot of running. They were almost limiting my life from day 1 of being diagnosed and it was heart-breaking. I will never forget that feeling being told that there was a limit to my life. So, I thought, if I’m going to run a 100-miles, I’m going to run one of the hardest ones in the world, I had to make this big statement about what you can do while living with diabetes.”
You are in control of how far you can go. Your support group is also really important to supplement your own desires and drive. Stephen, originally from just outside London, has a great network of runners and friends in New York where he is now based. His social media feeds are constantly filled with different uplifting posts from events that he races, attends or speaks at.
Dare to dream and dare to chase.
“It’s true that if I can’t quit this chronic illness of type 1 diabetes, which is gigantic if you really think about it, and it is hard work to manage it well and to live as healthy as possible alongside people that don’t have this. But you compare that to the last 30 miles of Leadville, where I’m in absolute agony, I’ve got blisters everywhere, chafing, I don’t want to eat any more food because I feel sick, I can’t drink anything because I feel sick. I’m at 10,000 plus feet, it’s the middle of the night, it’s freezing. It all sounds terrible and that’s exactly why I do these things. It all sounds terrible, and that’s exactly why I do these things. I put myself in these scenarios for a reason to test myself and to see what I’m made of. " When I have to think about that in comparison to diabetes, it’s so easy to take one more step. That’s how I get to finish every race that I start, I refuse to ever not finish a race.”
There is no doubt that running ultra-distances of 100 miles, or even 200 mile races come with unique challenges. Stephen explained in the podcast how it is his childhood curiosity that drives him to keep moving forwards in a race to “see what is around the next corner”.
However, the deep internal drive to finish each race, and to show himself and the world #whatspossible living with type 1 diabetes ensures his training early morning before work, it ensures his physical and mental preparation and it ensures he puts one foot in front of the other until the distance is covered.
Stephen's social media platforms:
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