Some­thing You Should Know

Liv­ing with Di­a­betes as an Ath­lete

Athleisure - - Contents - @DriverRyanReed

Ryan Reed talks about liv­ing with di­a­betes as an ath­lete. He talks about his ca­reer with NASCAR, the back half of the sea­son, how he stays fit, the im­por­tance of his doc­tor and how he is work­ing with Eli Lilly to share the ini­tia­tive to his fans.

In this month's Some­thing You Should Know, we're fo­cus­ing on Di­a­betes Aware­ness and how one of NASCAR's stars, Ryan Reed has nav­i­gated this dis­ease and con­tin­ues to ad­vance in his sport, work with his doc­tor and to loop in his rac­ing team.

ATH­LEISURE MAG: We grew up watching mo­tor­sports and pri­mar­ily For­mula 1 as our Co-Founder is from In­di­anapo­lis and upon en­ter­ing col­lege, be­gan en­joy­ing watching NASCAR. How did you get into rac­ing?

RYAN REED: My dad raced in NASCAR. I grew up in Cal­i­for­nia which was kind of dif­fer­ence be­cause rac­ing wasn’t as pop­u­lar there as it is in other parts of the coun­try. There was still quite a bit of rac­ing and of course, I loved it – love be­ing at the track and be­ing like dad. I started rac­ing go carts and by the time I was 10 or 11, it was a lot more than just a hobby and it was some­thing that I wanted to pur­sue as a ca­reer and to be a pro­fes­sional race car driver. I kind of kept climb­ing through rac­ing and fi­nally got to where I am today, which is a dream come true, be­ing able to race full­time in NASCAR.

AM: Can you tell us about the cars that race in NASCAR for those that may not be fami­lar with the sport?

RR: In NASCAR, we have big heavy cars with not a lot of tire. So ba­si­cally, we have a lot of horse power in our stock cars that don’t han­dle as good so our cor­ner­ing speeds aren’t as high and our straight line speed is just as high be­cause we don’t have a lot of force.

AM: What your next race?

RR: I have been rac­ing full­time in the NASCAR Xfin­ity Se­ries for a num­ber of years now so we’re a lit­tle past the half way point, about 2/3 with play­offs start­ing soon. So I'm get­ting ready for our play­offs to start and our post sea­son. I'm get­ting ready for our Cham­pi­onship. Our sea­son is far from over as

we’re in the back half of it, but it’s in full swing right now and about to get even busier as our play­offs get here.

AM: How many hours do you spend when you’re train­ing in the car ver­sus fit­ness train­ing out­side of the car?

RR: I’d say on an av­er­age week, I don't re­ally have that be­cause each track is so dif­fer­ent that a test ses­sion isn’t re­ally ap­pli­ca­ble un­less you go to that track and test it out. We do have like a Fri prac­tice for a cou­ple of hours, we qual­ify and then we race. It’s very im­por­tant be­cause it’s very limited time and our prepa­ra­tion be­fore we get to the track whether the team side is pre­par­ing cars and running sim­u­la­tion and we have a lot of tech­nol­ogy to set our race cars up and com­puter based in­for­ma­tion and as drivers, be­ing in the gym as much as pos­si­ble is about strength train­ing and a lot of en­durance train­ing. Ob­vi­ously, our races are 2.5 hours long and some­times longer and having en­durance based train­ing is re­ally im­por­tant for us. We also have sim­u­la­tors that are like a video game, but a lot more ad­vanced than that so that we can prac­tice our craft. That’s some­thing that has come along in the past 5-10 years that has helped ev­ery­one to get more seat time dur­ing the week.

AM: When were you di­ag­nosed with di­a­betes?

RR: For me be­ing di­ag­nosed at 17 in 2011, so 7 years ago, I was a lit­tle dif­fer­ent and it took me a lit­tle longer to get back in the car be­cause when I was di­ag­nosed, I was told that I would never race again. I had to find an en­docri­nol­o­gist that works with a lot of other ath­letes. She was the one that turned things around for me. She showed me a cou­ple of things that I could still fol­low my dreams and how im­por­tant it is to work with my doc­tor. Even today, she is a cru­cial part in my di­a­betes man­age­ment and for sure, a crit­i­cal part in get­ting me out there ev­ery week­end on the race track.

AM: What makes di­a­betes a chal­lenge for some­one that is par­tic­i­pat­ing in this sport?

RR: There is a lot go­ing on that peo­ple don’t un­der­stand and for us, we have to deal with some­thing that not many drivers have to deal with which is a chang­ing blood sugar level. It’s all about prepa­ra­tion. Know you diet, know your body – use a Con­tin­uos Glu­cose Mon­i­tor­ing Sys­tem that we can track where our blood sugar is go­ing be­fore the race and dur­ing the race as it mounted in the race car and we have a drink bot­tle with what we need in there if we need to use that. There are all kinds of things that we have that we can use to make sure ev­ery­thing is safe and that we’re as pre­pared as pos­si­ble for the race ahead of us.

AM: Do you have to ed­u­cate your crews that you work with and how does that work?

RR: I have worked with the same race team for 5 years now. My doc­tor spent a lot of time as I en­tered the world of NASCAR with Roush Fen­way to get with the team and to work closely with NASCAR’s med­i­cal team to get them com­fort­able with what I was do­ing to get pre­pared to get in the race car each week. What I was do­ing while I was in the car to man­age the di­a­betes and to work with the race team and the whole team knows what’s go­ing on and knows a lot more about di­a­betes now than what they did be­fore I came on. I think that all of that just shows how im­por­tant my doc­tor is to my suc­cess and to my di­a­betes man­age­ment.

AM: You have part­nered with Eli Lilly for awhile now to share their Di­a­betes

ini­ti­ti­ave - what is that like?

RR: It’s been a cool pro­gram to be with as I won at Day­tona and wore the Eli Lilly col­ors. A few years later, I was in the #team­di­a­betes sto­ries and peo­ple re­sponded well to it. As a race car driver liv­ing this high in­ten­sity life­style that might be a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent then what peo­ple ex­pect us to be do­ing and shar­ing it through the pro­gram is great.

AM: What should we keep an eye out for with this ini­tia­tive?

RR: Eli Lilly will re­lease a cool 5 part se­ries on NASCAR’s YouTube chan­nel and gives peo­ple a feel for my story. The Road to Road Amer­ica is what it is called and you can find out more at

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