Posts Tagged Cardiology

Run Till You’re Sick (Revisited)

After 18 weeks of running on my modified program (two weeks medium, two weeks hard, two weeks off for three cycles. See “Run Till You’re Sick”) I was retested and revisited the cardiologist. The news was less than sparkling. I appear to have sick sinus syndrome. The sinoatrial node, which is the structure in my heart charged with keeping the beat, is not doing its job. When I sleep the node does too. At times I went up to 11 seconds without a heart beat. Very exciting.

This is so exciting that the node has been sacked. Its job is being outsourced and it will be replaced with an artificial pacemaker, one that takes its job a little more seriously. I must confess to feeling let down, disappointed and more than a little annoyed that such a tiny part of my otherwise presumably healthy body can have such a profound and long lasting effect on my life. Woody Allen said, “My brain: it’s my second favorite organ”. My heart would have to come a close third, but I would be more than happy to promote it if I thought that would cheer it up enough that it would live up to its job description.

While the cardiologist thinks the running and the appearance of sick sinus syndrome are all just coincidence I find it a little too convenient that this should flare up shortly after completing my first marathon and settle down when I stop running. From what I have read of marathon runners an alarmingly large number of them have some level of scarring in their heart muscle. I suspect that something I may have been predisposed to was a little unhappy with the extreme level of effort I expended while running the marathon and decided to pack up shop and go home in a huff.

Apparently the good news, apart from not going through airport security scanners any more, is that once the pacemaker is installed I will be as good as new and able to run, jump and leap tall buildings in a single bound again, as long as I only use the mobile phone on my right side, avoid shop security scanners and give up contact sports. So much for Krav Maga. Maybe I could just give up running instead?

Dr. F. Bunny

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Run Till You’re Sick

“Running the miles, pretty damn quick. Run through the wilds. Run till you’re sick”

(Going To Mexico, Motörhead, from the album “Aftershock”)

I have finished my six weeks in running purgatory (See “Too Fit To Run” 5/4/14) and visited a new cardiologist, one who looks fit, has Tour de France athletes on his books and seems to understand the concept of exercise. I passed my follow up heart test which means that, as my fitness level drops, my heart rate comes back into the “normal” range. Apparently there is “normal” and there is “normal”. Unfortunately my “normal” is closer to the “needs a pacemaker” kind of normal. But for now I can run again.

In order to try and keep my heart under control I have been put on a modified program of two weeks hard running, two weeks moderate running, two weeks no running, for 18 weeks (three cycles). Then I have a heart stress test and repeat heart monitor assessment. If all is good I assume that will be my foreseeable future. If all is not good then it’s back to the drawing board.

And I am allowed to run a marathon because I don’t have any myocardial scarring. The cardiologist was quite disparaging about my previous marathon result. Apparently, if it takes me four hours to complete a marathon, then I am not running nearly hard enough to damage my heart.

I guess that’s good news but I don’t think I will take up that particular challenge, at least not this year. After six weeks off I feel understandably sluggish and slow. I dare say that will all improve reasonably rapidly but, for now, I think I will confine myself to half marathons and see what happens.

Dr. F. Bunny

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