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Talking time with ... Roddy Riddle.

Time to read : Approx. 4 minutes

Today I’m with a totally inspirational guy who has, over the last few years, been taking part in some of the most extreme endurance events in the world. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 40 and now lives by the motto “Rule diabetes, don’t let it rule you”.

Roddy Riddle and Jodi Sharpe

After being advised that exercising with diabetes could be risky he set out to find a way he could continue with his active lifestyle. As an ex- international road cyclist he was no stranger to the demands of endurance sports. In 2013 he became the first type 1 diabetic to complete the “Marathon des Sables” and raised a whopping £26,000 for 2 diabetes charities.

Closer to home he undertook the 53 miler “Highland Fling” and came third in the “Great Glen Ultra” – 72 miles! Most recently he not only completed the 6633 Arctic Ultra, a gruelling 350 mile self-sufficient foot race with temperatures dropping to -40’, but finished 2nd ! Roddy spends a lot of his time raising awareness of what is possible if you take control of your diabetes. On top of all this his day job is working in the bike shop that he part owns. He lives with his wife and 3 children in Inverness.

How do you balance all the elements of your daily life ?

The first thing I try to do is fit my training around the family so I’m not taking time away from there. When the kids are at school that’s when I go out. I’m quite lucky being self-employed, especially in the winter when we are quieter and I’ll get 2 or 3 days off.

How did you go about planning the training for the Arctic ultra ?

I did it on a weekly basis, as that is when the work rota is done too. I don’t have a 4 week plan or anything like that. I basically make it up as I go along, which is the only way I can do it. I get asked to do presentations in schools etc. at really short notice so that can affect the training. I’m having to adjust things all the time. It’s exactly the same as having type 1 diabetes, always adjusting things like insulin intake.

I was a lot more prepared on the start line this year than last time. (He attempted the same race in 2016 but unfortunately had to pull out.) I had much more respect for the race this time. I did a lot of back to back days with my paramedic friend. I knew I had to get these big days in though. One back to back was a 42 mile followed by a 36 miler with 6ooo feet of climbing on the first day ! It was a case of getting the miles in – time on the legs.

What did you have to give up during this period ?

On the really big training days that I did have to take time away from the family. At Christmas time I hurt my ankle. 2 days after being in A & E I was back out training. My physio had said it was ok as long as I wasn’t running. Training was now marching not running. This was fine as in the Arctic you do not want to sweat and would be marching anyway.

Tell me about the way you use your time and think about it on these epic challenges ?

The Marathon Des Sables was a park run compared to the 6633. So, there wasn’t as much training needed. It was running and not marching – so it’s quicker !

Going back to the 6633 I only ran when I could see the hamlet of Tuk – the finishing lights. I let my defences down and thought there’s only 15 miles to go. Then with just 3 miles to go I started hallucinating. I’d let my brain switch off. The brain is a very strong thing. That is a weakness that I shouldn’t have allowed to happen. If I’d kept my defences up I wouldn’t have hallucinated. One thing I did do was listen to my body. Even though there was only a few miles until the end, instead of cracking on I got my flasks out, had a drink and took control. I lost 10 minutes but then I stopped hallucinating and could carry on to the finish. It’s not all about the fitness. You have to have severe mental strength to get through this type of event.

Do you use any time management tools / apps ?

My brother was getting on at me about this and showing me a google calendar I could use. I do use reminders on my phone. I can be pretty bad. For example, this morning, I was at the clinic giving blood for research and I was actually supposed to be there a week ago ! However, I am good at being on time, I hate being late for things. My wife is really good at keeping details of appointments. I would say that I am getting better at it !

How are you at delegating ?

I don’t delegate stuff out, except at work. When it comes to being asked to do things like presentations I try to do them – especially schools. When there are kids in schools with type 1 diabetes I think it is important that they get to hear this story and that they can realise that having this chronic illness does not stop you achieving your goals and dreams. I enjoy doing schools but I do still get nervous, even with the really little ones. I talked to a class of P3’s last week and it put my blood glucose levels up! On stage with Nicky Marr at Eden Court (The largest entertainment venue in the Highlands) it’s a little easier as she makes me feel relaxed.

If you had more free time (An extra hour in your day!) how would you spend it ?

Sleeping. (Laughing) Errm, good question – I don’t know. I train and I have time with my family. I’m not a gardener, would I take my golf clubs out that I won on holiday ? I’m not a member of a golf club – probably not. (Pause) I think I would dig my bike back out. When we raced it was tough – 12 000 miles a year training, brutal, not so enjoyable. Since I’ve retired from cycling I’ve not really gone out much on the bike. Yes, I would go out on the bike for enjoyment.

Any last thoughts on how people can make the most of their time ?

Everyone’s in such a rush these days. Life, for many, is so stressful. I see it on the roads. I think that’s why there are so many deaths on the roads of cyclists. You sometimes need to stop, take a deep breath and chill out. I think you have to take a step back if you are feeling under pressure and listen to your body. Life is not just about money or work, work, work. It is about living. If your body is not enjoying what you are doing then DO something else !

To find out more about Roddy visit his website

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