Tommy Neal, Professional Runner, Team Novo Nordisk
by Stephanie Gibson

Olympic Trials runner Tommy Neal is not one to allow a setback to slow down his running career—even if that setback is a big one. Though he stumbled briefly, wondering if he might continue with his career after a Type I diabetes diagnosis in December 2011, the optimistic runner forged ahead, and as of this past October he represents Team Novo Nordisk on national and international levels. Below he chats with us about what it means to be a runner living with diabetes. HC: When were you first diagnosed with diabetes? TN: I was diagnosed in December 2011, a little more than two years ago. At the time, I was a professional runner and had just qualified for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. I raced the trials, but due to being sick for so long I didn’t get the proper training done to finish the marathon. HC: How has running helped you manage the disease, and how has your career evolved since the diagnosis? TN: Running is—and always has been—my balancing rock. It tells me if something is wrong or if I’m in very good health. When I was diagnosed it was, of course, a big setback, but I kept running. I even went for a two-mile run the day I got out of the hospital, just to get back to normal. I figured I’m going to live life with this disease so I might as well learn how to deal with it right away. Shortly after that I contacted Team Novo Nordisk; they have been incredible to help me during this education phase of getting back to racing as a top American athlete who has diabetes. HC: What equipment do you use to control your diabetes? Where do you purchase supplies? TN: I use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) from Dexcom; it’s great. The CGMs and insulin pumps that are out make diabetes easier [to deal with]. I buy through my insurance and diabetes home services, plus a local pharmacy if I need something quickly. HC: Do you think there are ways that HME providers can better serve diabetes patients? TN: It would be great if [providers] could integrate a coaching group for exercise or a nutritionist that customers could email or access for advice and motivation. If providers can offer a support group online that includes live chat or even FaceTime, then the checks and balances would help someone move forward and stay on top of managing their condition. HC: How does diabetes affect your day-to-day lifestyle? TN: I work with my health care team to come up with a game plan that works for me. This includes staying active, monitoring my blood sugar throughout the day, paying close attention to what I eat and adjusting my treatment regimen, as needed. When I’m training and racing, I regularly check my blood sugar and make adjustments to my insulin as needed, as instructed by my health care team. Day to day, I’m proud to show others what may be possible to achieve with diabetes.