Doug Masiuk was diagnosed with type one diabetes at the age of three. So far this summer he’s run from San Francisco to the middle of Nebraska, and he won’t stop until he crosses 3,000 miles and hits the Atlantic Ocean in Long Island, New York.
Keep the Forrest Gump jokes to yourself; he’s heard them all before. But if Masiuk, 38, completes his cross-country run, he will become the first person with type-one diabetes to make the journey.
He’s dubbed the whole effort 1Run. He and his crew, including Dan Lynn and Megan Ebersberger, stopped by my home in Denver last month for a night to discuss the unique difficulties faced by the trans-continental runner.
“Originally, I hoped to make it in four months,” Masiuk said. “It has become not so much about simply running across the country but also connecting with communities and doing events for diabetics.”
His message to diabetics is simple and applies to anyone who has struggled with fitness or general motivation: There never needs to be an excuse. “Thirty seconds of exercise is better than none,” he said.
Masiuk said he has reached a huge number of people with his message and has been well received by almost everyone he meets. “There are truckers that will pull off the side of the road and be so touched,” Masiuk said. “You go into a small town and meet a mayor who will think it’s amazing. This reaction is something I wasn’t prepared for.”
For a diabetic, running across the country presents some unique challenges. Managing diabetes is about diet, exercise and insulin. The tremendous amount of exercise requires a tremendous amount of food and a close watch on diet, but less insulin, Masiuk told me.
He regularly tests his blood glucose levels and must carry snacks to stave off low blood sugar. “This is life or death for a diabetic,” he said.
Masiuk shared some tips with us for running about 30 miles a day, all summer long, for planning and gear. Here are a few points he raised on what it takes to run long, day after day for 3,000+ miles without stop. —Sean McCoy
Long-Range Planning. “Never get hung up on what’s right in front of you,” Masiuk said. “The ultimate goal is really in conflict with [the present] running when you think about it. You have to be aware of the long haul, the next day and the next day and the next.”
Light shoes. Masiuk wears the Nike Lunar Racers, a racing flat, for their light weight. He runs light on his feet, and the minimal shoes work for him. But running for weeks on end takes its toll. “Almost half way through and I’m on my ninth pair,” he noted.
Chafe Sucks. “I lost my Body glide somewhere along the way. It would be good to have around!”
Ice! “I love ice. One thing I didn’t realize how much I would miss is ice out here on the run,” he said. “You want cold fluid. We stop for ice before we go out and after we are done.”
Watch the Weather. Be prepared. “When we went over Vail Pass, 12,000 feet, I was dressed for the beach. I should have had a hat and jacket and maybe mittens. You have to be ready for anything.”
White Running Clothes. Dress for comfort and visibility. Masiuk wears Nike Dryfit clothing. “I like to wear white. It’s easier for the cars to see you. I like the cooling properties and the fact that it doesn’t hide the dirt!”
—Sean McCoy is a contributing editor. For more info on Doug Masiuk and his cause, go to 1Run.org.