Keeping Pace with Diabetes

Courtney Duckworth eliminated routine fingersticks from her running routine and improved her glucose management.

DIABETES CARE|Apr.12, 2018

It was 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning, and Courtney Duckworth, then 19 years old, was on the phone with 911 trying to get help. During a long run through a desolate area, Duckworth's blood sugar levels had dropped to dangerous levels. Fortunately, a driver who was passing by spotted her, picked her up and gave her multiple juice boxes to get her blood sugar levels back up.

"It was the scariest moment of my life," says Duckworth, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 10 years old. Having grown up as a competitive figure skater, she decided in college to train for and compete in her first marathon. It was a goal on her bucket list, and she wasn't going to let her type 1 diabetes hold her back.

She tested her blood sugar regularly, before, during and after her runs – generally about a dozen times per day. Her doctor called her a "supertester." But it wasn't always enough to keep her blood sugar levels in a healthy range.

That early morning rescue taught her an important lesson. "I learned the hard way that managing blood sugar, especially when exercising, is an exact science," says Duckworth, who currently works at the Children’s National Medical Center and is about to start medical school. Last year, she served as a National Institutes of Health research fellow. "You are always the science experiment."

Since that scary training run, Duckworth has put four marathons under her running belt, and in 2015, ran the Boston Marathon using the Abbott FreeStyle Lite blood glucose meter. Now, she trains for marathons in a revolutionary new way.

During runs, she no longer pricks her finger*, Instead, she waves a handheld device over a sensor about the size of two stacked quarters worn on the back of her upper arm. Her glucose measurement immediately appears on the device reader, along with information about how her glucose has been trending and where it's forecasted to go.

The technology is possible through Abbott's new FreeStyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system, which, even without a wave of the sensor, collects data every minute.

Keeping Pace with Diabetes

"When you're trying to [achieve your best time], the last thing you want to do is stop," she says. "So I'd end up running with a lancing device in my mouth, fumbling with the monitor as I ran. Now I can be a supertester and it's totally ok. It doesn't slow me down."

She explains that the extra insights into her glucose more effectively help her mange her condition around the clock, whether she is running, working, studying, hanging out with friends or grabbing dinner.

What's more, it gives her confidence. "I used to constantly have this second train of thought going in my mind about what my blood sugar was doing. I was always trying to calculate and predict what was going on in my body," she says. "Now I know."

* Fingersticks are required for treatment decisions when you see Check Blood Glucose symbol, when symptoms do not match system readings, when you suspect readings may be inaccurate, or when you experience symptoms that may be due to high or low blood glucose.


The FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring system is a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device indicated for replacing blood glucose testing and detecting trends and tracking patterns aiding in the detection of episodes of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, facilitating both acute and long-term therapy adjustments in persons (age 18 and older) with diabetes. The system is intended for single patient use and requires a prescription.


Remove the sensor before MRI, CT scan, X-ray, or diathermy treatment.


Do not ignore symptoms that may be due to low or high blood glucose, hypoglycemic unawareness, or dehydration. Check sensor glucose readings with a blood glucose meter when Check Blood Glucose symbol appears, when symptoms do not match system readings, or when readings are suspected to be inaccurate. The FreeStyle Libre system does not have alarms unless the sensor is scanned, and the system contains small parts that may be dangerous if swallowed. The FreeStyle Libre system is not approved for pregnant women, persons on dialysis, or critically-ill population. Sensor placement is not approved for sites other than the back of the arm and standard precautions for transmission of blood borne pathogens should be taken. The built-in blood glucose meter is not for use on dehydrated, hypotensive, in shock, hyperglycemic-hyperosmolar state, with or without ketosis, neonates, critically-ill patients, or for diagnosis or screening of diabetes. Review all product information before use or contact Abbott Toll Free (855-632-8658) or visit for detailed indications for use and safety information.