I decided to share with you excerpts from a long email my wife sent out to friends and family regarding my heart condition.
Below is another chapter in Alan’s cardio-saga:
Yesterday’s activities began with a trip to the local cardiologist’s office to pick up pertinent records …
Along the way to Houston, I read the reports. … We found ourselves at the new cardiologist’s clinic, but were confused by its name: “Center for Advanced Heart Failure.” Not an optimistic greeting for someone seeking verification of a diagnosis (and who – only two years ago – was running half-marathons). All the other patients waiting for appointments had strap-on battery packs. One young girl even had a big ol’ backpack that probably wouldn’t meet FAA weight restrictions!
Sitting in that waiting room, Alan felt like a fraud. (When we return, perhaps he should wear a satchel hung by a shoulder strap.)
I was a bit more impressed by Dr. L (yesterday’s cardiologist) than I had expected. Before he saw Alan, he had examined the latest test (the “T.E.E.,” Trans-Esophogeal Echocardiogram), which we brought on DVD. That test (as was the previous Echo) had been interpreted by Dr. A, and his interpretation sounded much less “serious” than the “regular” (through-the-chest) Echo.
In the report of the T.E.E., the enlargement of the septum (the muscular dividing wall between the right and left sides of the heart) sounded much less serious than had the report from the previous Echo. … Because Alan’s main desire is to be physically active (run, work-out) and because of inconclusive data, Dr. L wants Alan to have a “treadmill nuclear stress test.”
The doc’s main objective for this test is to see what the heart does when it’s working under pressure … In the”treadmill nuclear stress test” … a radioactive is injected in a vein so that the coronary arteries (those “feeding” the heart) can be viewed… before, during, and after exercise (See https://www.cardiosmart.org/News-and-Events/2013/01/Video-Stress-Nuclear-Study).
According to Dr. L, tests seem to indicate that the partial blockage (from the left ventricle to the aorta) is less likely from a too-thick septal muscle than from floppy “heartstrings” (called “Chordae tendineae.” See the attached photo).
If too loose, these heartstrings won’t close the mitral valve completely (thus the “murmur”), and they get in the way of the blood on its way to the body. He did two experiments in the office, one of which caused the murmur to silence; the other, to increase. As I understand, the treadmill stress test … will show what happens when the heart is working… and whether Alan’s dyspnea (shortness-of-breath) is caused by coronary artery disease … or by floppy heartstrings. If the latter is the cause, Dr. L likely would prescribe a beta-blocker (or something similar) to slow down the heart (yes, even though it already is slow… as long as Alan didn’t feel bad with it slowed).
The “last resort” would be open-heart surgery to replace the mitral valve. And, I don’t see Alan going for that. If the problem appears to be caused by blockage to the coronary artery/arteries, well, that’s more testing, I guess.
This post is a blend of “talkie” and “pseudo-techie” because people with all sorts of understanding are receiving this. (I may have boogered-up the techie stuff, but I perhaps it’s “kinda-sorta” close). Thank you for your love, support, prayers, and info/consultation/ advice! ALL are most appreciated!
So now I wait for my treadmill test on Monday! Of course, I asked Dr.L if it was OK to run now. And of course he said “NO!” As you may imagine, I’m getting very frustrated …
Wish me luck!
[box title="Author" color="#0080FF"]Alan Jenkin used to shuffle through half marathons, but lately he has been sidelined due to a succession of events, the most recent of which are described here. He is now waiting on an opinion to see when he’ll be able to run again – hopefully better and stronger than ever![/box]
[heading]Do you feel hungry after a workout?[/heading]
[dropcap]M[/dropcap]ost people don’t.
Immediately after a workout, whether it be a long run, a speed training workout or a strength training workout, most people find they have no appetite for a while. About 30-45 minutes later, depending on the workout, the appetite returns.
These days, I alternate running with strength training. I have found that as I grow older my running gets slower and my need for strength training increases. Yesterday, I ran a short pace run and today I did a back and biceps workout.
After my workout today (which took just over ten minutes before breakfast) I was not hungry, but about 15 minutes later I was ready for breakfast. Following a strength workout, it’s important to take some protein within about 30 minutes, so I had a protein shake. It tasted great, and made the perfect prelude to a breakfast burrito!
(My wife is out of town at present, but she made me some sausage and egg burritos and left them in the freezer. One of those after a protein shake makes for a quick post-workout breakfast.)
[heading]Exercise May Affect Food Motivation[/heading]
Science Daily carried a report this month entitled “Exercise May Affect Food Motivation”, detailing the results of studies carried out at BYU. The studies report that 45 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise in the morning actually reduces a person’s appetite for food. This is great news for anyone who is trying to lose weight: you get the triple benefit of
- consuming calories while you exercise,
- raising your resting metabolic rate and
- desiring less food!
[heading]How Long Does It Last? [/heading]
According to one of the researchers:
[quote]…this is one of the first studies to look specifically at neurologically-determined food motivation in response to exercise and that researchers still need to determine how long the diminished food motivation lasts after exercise and to what extent it persists with consistent, long-term exercise.[/quote]
My own experience tells me that the diminished food motivation does persist with consistent long-term exercise. I know that, when running, dragging extra weight around gives a motivation to consume less junk food and focus more on energy-producing food. And strength training builds muscle and makes me more conscious of what I eat: my body demands protein to rebuild muscle fibers.
[note]What has been your experience with exercise and food? Do you find your food cravings reduced after exercise? If not, have you thought about varying your exercise program to see if that helps?[/note]
As a serious runner, you may find that you have no need to lose weight. In that case, I would suggest that you might need to add muscle mass through strength training: I found my upper body, especially, was wasting away during my half marathon training. Contrary to what many think, a weak upper body actually hinders long distance running.
[note]For best training results, make sure you are using a structured, varied running and cross-training program, such as that given in my eBook “Your Half Training Schedule”, and aim for 3 days a week of strength training, such as the program I use. My experience with strength training programs in the past has been that if they take too much time I abandon them. This is why I now follow the 7 Minute Workout Program – check it out![/note]
[heading]Is it Better to Run a Fall or a Spring Half Marathon?[/heading]
[dropcap]M[/dropcap]ost full and half marathons take place either in the spring or in the fall. One of the exceptions, of course, is the Antarctic Marathon, which next year includes a half marathon. Many runners dream of this run, but relatively few get to compete: it books up early.
If you run in the fall, you will need to train during the summer months. If you’re running this fall, you know that already! The problem with summer training, of course is the heat.
The past two summers have been exceptionally hot here. Last year, we had a drought, a heatwave and wildfires to contend with. For much of the summer, the smoke in the air made it unhealthy to run.
This year was not quite as hot, but the humidity was high enough to make up for it. I noticed today, too, how brown the grass is, and one of our trees appears to be dying. We have another drought: not as bad as last year, but still dry enough to kill off some of the vegetation and cause the lake levels to drop.
The general rule for running in heat is to take it easy and stay well hydrated. Early morning or late evening running is cooler than daytime running, but here in Texas it can be the time of maximum humidity. Taking it easy by running slower or running shorter distances is a sensible rule, but it interferes with training.
Keeping cool during summer running means wearing light synthetic running gear. Cotton does not work well in the heat: it gets wet and uncomfortable and is inclined to chafe. The modern “tech” tee shirts work well, and I like cool synthetic shorts and socks.
Top it off with a hat and sunglasses. A mesh synthetic cap with a big peak works best for me – it keeps my head cooler, provides shade and acts as a sweatband. Sunglasses will protect your eyes against UV damage and wind, dust and debris.
Winter training presents a different set of problems, the first being when to train.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to train during the day, say during a lunch break, then most of your problem is solved. Dress appropriately, run around noon, and save your long runs for the weekends.
Many of us, however, don’t have the luxury of running during the day, so we need to train in the early morning or late evening hours. Either way, this means running in the dark, which brings its own set of hazards. Reflective clothing is essential: you need to be clearly seen by drivers of oncoming vehicles.
If you’re running on a road, run against the traffic and try to keep an escape route open for the occasional driver who still won’t see you. (I make a point of waving to drivers when I’m running on roads: even if they didn’t see me before, the sudden movement can catch their eye and allow them to swerve in time to avoid me.)
Never run an unfamiliar route in the dark, and watch out for hazards on familiar routes. You should always carry a flashlight when running in the dark: you can use it to attract the attention of unwary drivers, but it’s also valuable for your own vision. (I sprained my ankle one dark morning when I hit a new pothole that had washed out overnight on a familiar stretch of road: limping home was no fun, and I couldn’t run for three weeks afterward.)
One difficulty I find about winter running is knowing what to wear. Most experts will tell you not to overdress, but I have found that wearing too little warm clothing can be even worse. When you get really chilled on a run there is no way to recover until you make it back home: if you wear too much, you can always remove a layer.
[heading]Which is Better?[/heading]
It’s all a matter of preference, really. Both fall races and spring races present their own challenges. Depending on where you live, either can bring better or worse weather for training. If you generally run fall half marathons, why not try a spring one for a change, and vice versa?
[note]Let me know in a comment which you prefer and why. At the end of this month I’ll review the comments and award a free copy of my eBook “Your Half Training Schedule” (a $17.95 value) to the three best submissions. (Judge’s decision is final!)[/note]
[dropcap]P[/dropcap]eople love to run.
So states Justin Levine in an article on Active.com titled Is Your Running Plan Appropriate for You?
The article concludes with the paragraph:
Random running without attention to progressions, strength development and smart tactics will lead to injury. You have to understand your body, pay attention to signs of overuse/overtraining symptoms and be willing to adjust the program accordingly. As an industry, let’s not bastardize running; let’s reward people for getting out there, pushing themselves and improving their health. The key is education. If you are a strength coach or running specific coach, hammer knowledge into the runners you train about smart training principles and get them to understand the complete picture. If you are a runner, be wise. Don’t just run without adding other elements to the program. Let’s remember, running is a sport that many people enjoy. Let’s encourage activity and promote smarter training so we can continue living healthy and taking advantage of every day!
[heading] Training Plan [/heading]
I used to be a “random runner” until I started my own training plan, and I completely agree with Mr. Levine’s conclusion. Running should be fun, but too often it is not, due to setbacks caused by injuries. As Mr. Levine says, the secret is progression, strength training and smart tactics.
When I started running I had no intention of “racing”: for me, running was just a pleasant way of exercising and getting fit and healthy. A friend persuaded me to run my first 10K and I was hooked! After that I ran regularly without any plan and participated in 5K and 10K runs several times a year. I had frequent injuries, which took some of the enjoyment out of my running, but just believed they were a necessary part of the experience.
[heading] Training For A Half Marathon[/heading]
It was not until I started running half marathons that I decided I needed a running program. In fact, I had already started mixing in some intervals, hill runs and fartlek with my routine runs, but had never really built a training plan. For the half marathon, though, I knew I needed more, so I researched several plans and developed a half marathon training schedule that worked for me.
As I was testing my plan, I recognized that different runners have different needs, depending on their starting point. That was the origin of the different schedules in my Half Training eBook, which contains various plans ranging from an easy beginner plan to an aggressive plan for experienced runners. Over the years, I have found little need to modify these plans.
[heading] Strength Training[/heading]
As a runner, fitness counselor, and running adviser I have learned (sometimes the hard way) the truth behind Mr. Levine’s statements. If you are already a member of Half Training Schedule you will be receiving regular newsletters based on my own running experiences, in addition to the running advice on this website. Strength training was for me the final step in building the level of fitness I needed to enjoy my training schedule.
You will find no references to strength building in my training plans: I used to hate working out with weights. I now believe that strength training is an important part of overall fitness, whether or not you’re a runner. For runners, it’s vital as an aid to avoiding injuries.
Fortunately, strength training does not need to take nearly as long as running training. I now know that 20 minutes or so per week, provided you follow the correct plan, is sufficient.
Now that I can handle!
[note color="#FFCC00"]You can learn about how you can build strength in 20 minutes a week at http://halftraining.com/mdl9 [/note]
The Chicoine family is just amazing!
This family is such an inspiration! Look at where they’re running - 20,000 K through two countries:
The August 2011 Runner’s World has a ten-week half training schedule for those who are planning to run their first half marathon this fall. I just finished reading the article, and can recommend it if you are not already using one of my schedules. As you know, my half training schedule is customized according to your needs and current level of fitness.
Having said that, let me be the first to state that for a “one size fits all” schedule, it’s really good. It starts from the assumption that you are already running three miles three or four times a week. (If you’re not there yet, you definitely need to get a copy of my half training schedule to see how to get started.)
In the Runner’s World article, the general principle is to take three days per week resting or cross-training and two hard and two easy days. This is a great principle to follow, and gives you plenty of time to recover from the hard workouts. The hard workouts alternate speedwork with long runs, with one or two rest days and one easy day between each hard workout.
I approve of the general pattern, especially if you’re only training for ten weeks. For longer training periods, I would personally find the speedwork they recommend boring. I understand the idea behind it: it’s to get used to running at race pace by running 5- 6 miles with a gradually increasing portion of that being at race pace.
If you’re following a 13-week or 15-week schedule, I think you might find yourself getting stale through overtraining on these pace days. Think about it – the schedule looks like this:
>>>Monday: Rest or cross-training
>>>Wednesday: Rest or cross-training
>>>Thursday: Pace run
>>>Friday: Rest or cross-training
>>>Sunday: Long run
Repeat for ten weeks, except that in week 5 they suggest a 10K race for the long run and taking an easy day instead of the pace run. I would find that monotonous, especially if I trained for more than ten weeks. I would mix in some interval runs, fartlek and hill repeats to build strength and speed without the monotony of continual pace runs, (Incidentally, while I call these pace runs, the article refers to them as tempo runs – I apologize for the inconsistency!)
There also seems to be no provision for strength training in this schedule. Having run for years without strength training, I am now beginning to discover the problems that has brought me. I have recently started a strength training program that would fit in nicely with this schedule, taking just 7 minutes a day on the rest days: I’m sure your running would benefit from that or something similar.
The third issue I would be concerned with is that the longest training run is 12 miles. This is adequate and, given the assumptions made, is probably the best you could do. Given a longer training period or a more advanced starting point, I would aim for 14 or 15 miles for the longest run.
In summary, if you’re training for your first half marathon with only ten weeks to do it in, this is a good schedule. If you have more time, I would recommend mixing in some different workouts for the hard days, as well as strength training during the week. Personally, I would recommend, too, that you try to fit in one run of 13 miles or more before the race: it will give you the confidence you may need that you can actually finish 13.1 miles.
Running in hot weather may not be a problem where you are, but here in Texas the spring has been “a mite warmish.” Highs have hovered in the 100-105 range (38-40 Celsius) for the past few weeks, with no let up in sight. This hot weather can make running uncomfortable, or even downright dangerous.
I had planned on training for a fall half marathon – with summer still another week away I’m glad that other plans caused me to change my mind. But for those half training now, how do you handle the hot weather?
You know all the standard recommendations: stay well-hydrated, don’t push so hard when it’s really hot, take your long runs at the coolest times and so on. Putting these into practice can be more difficult, though. Here are some recommendations I have found worked for me in the past.
Yes, hydration is important, but beware of hyponatration. As far as we can tell from the records, no runner has actually died from dehydration, but there have been several deaths from hyponatration. So how do you avoid it?
It turns out that the runners who have suffered from hyponatration in hot weather have collapsed after consuming really large quantities of liquid to avoid dehydration. Frequently, the problem has been due to taking large quantities of sports drinks. Sports drinks are easier than water to consume in large quantities.
The level of electrolytes in the sports drinks is too low to replace that lost through sweat, the theory goes. Hence, to maintain electrolyte balance it is necessary to run slightly dehydrated rather than over hydrated. This goes against conventional wisdom, but the statistics don’t lie: let thirst be your guide in hot weather, not some arbitrary number of ounces per mile.
Don’t get me wrong here – I’m not advocating against sports drinks. Personally, especially in hot weather, I like to take a glass of one of the sports drinks before and after my run: my warning is against over-consuming liquid. For my long run, I carry water, because I am not likely to consume too much of that.
Even in a race it’s a good idea to ease off if you find yourself getting dizzy or faint. Better to finish running a little slower than being driven in an ambulance. In training, the temptation is always to push a little harder: the trick to running in hot weather is to know your limits and stay within them. At other times we like to know our limits and push beyond them!
Choose your times
When you have a choice, schedule your long runs and your hard runs for cooler times. If that is not possible, respect the conditions and accept that your running times will be slower for the same level of effort in hot weather. On those really hot, still days, try cross training: I found cycling and swimming both worked well.
Running in hot weather has its own set of challenges. Before I retired, I tried various times of the day to find out what worked best for me. Running early in the morning, when the temperature was still around 80 (27 Celsius) worked well, but the higher humidity was still punishing. I also found myself frequently running in the dark, but after two sprained ankles due to unseen hazards gave up that practice.
Evening running after a day’s work was not very successful for me, so that left me with either treadmill running (which I hate) or running at noon. (I’m not a mad dog, but I was born an Englishman, so going out in the midday sun may have been natural for me.) I found that, provided I started early enough in the year, I could keep running at noon during the week all summer long. I still made sure to drink water before and after the run, and I kept my run to 30-45 minutes in length, saving my long runs for the weekend.
In the end, it’s up to you. Our bodies and running styles are all different, and what works for one runner may not work for another. Feel free to experiment and find what works best for you, but do it early in your training cycle so that you won’t mess up your schedule too badly.
A 22-year old runner died in the Chicago Half Marathon yesterday, probably a victim of the record high temperature. When I ran the Nashville Half Marathon in 2009, also in record high temperature, we had a similar experience: another young runner died. Why does this happen?
I found myself asking this question as I went for my morning run today. With 101 degrees forecast, we are under a weather advisory, with the National Weather Service advising us to “reschedule strenuous activities to the early morning or mid- to late-evening hours.” I intended to take a long run this morning, but decided to cut it short when I realized how hot I was getting.
As runners, we are always tempted to push past our limits: it’s in our nature to see how much harder or faster we can run. With experience, though, we learn that sometimes pushing too hard can be dangerous: we want to live to run another day! It’s generally the younger, less experienced runners that succumb to the heat.
The lesson? Know when to quit! During the 2009 Nashville Half Marathon, I recognized that I was becoming dehydrated and overheated, with a section that had a paucity of water stations. I didn’t drop out, but I decided it was safer to quit running and walk until I could obtain some relief. No, I didn’t beat my anticipated time, but I finished strong and healthy, and was able to run again in 2010.
It’s fun to break your personal record, but not if you lose your life in the attempt.
At the bigger races of 10K or more they have massage tents after the finish, usually free. This was certainly true at the Capitol 10K last Sunday. I believe in taking advantage of them, as a good massage, especially for the legs, helps to relieve soreness and stiffness after the run.
Waiting in line for the massage, I got to talking to another runner. When discussing half marathons, he came up with some useful tips for race day and the period immediately before and after. I thought you might like to know about them, so I’ll share them now.
Race Day Tip #1
Before you run your first half marathon you will have formed a pretty good idea of your race pace, based on your long runs. Let’s say your pace is 12 minutes per mile, for example. Then start off your half marathon at a pace that is two minutes slower than your estimated race pace (in this case, 14 minutes per mile). Once you have settled down, you can increase to your full race pace.
Race Day Tip #2
This is for the week before the race. Assuming your race is on a Sunday, you will have done a long run of approximately race distance the previous Sunday. Take the rest of the week off. This doesn’t mean don’t run at all: what it means is take a couple of easy days during the week, then take Thursday and Friday off to rest your legs. On Saturday, walk for about 30 minutes to get your legs used to moving again.
Race day Tip #3
If you can, get a massage after the race. Then the next day, go for a walk again. You can take an easy run after a couple more days, but allow yourself at least a week to recover before any serious running.
The usual rule is one day for each mile you’ve run, but unless you’ve put in a really hard effort, that may be more than you need. Let your body tell you when it’s ready to start serious running again, and then use fartlek at first. With fartlek it’s easy to adjust to your body’s demands.
I assume you supplement with vitamins and minerals. For a week before the race and a week after, increase your supplementation. I use a variety of supplements from Life Extension.
I hope these tips will help you in your first half marathon: good luck!
I came across this post and decided the advice is good enough to share with everybody. It refers to a race in South Africa, so the details may need to be changed, but the ideas are good anywhere!
Norrie’s final training tip for the Postnet Half-Marathon
13 Mar 2009
Tomorrow morning will see you lining up for the Postnet Weekend witness Half Marathon and Marathon, what you do in the final 24 hours will impact on your result tomorrow.
The course is one of the fastest qualifiers in the province and with over 2600 runners there will be people to assist you throughout your race no matter what the chosen distance, so the important thing is to get the mind and body in “gear” to take you through to the finish in your chosen time.
It’s often said that “Failing to plan is planning to fail” and this is certainly true of running a marathon so go through the following checklist and make sure you have plan or direction for each of the following:
· Make sure you are 100% clear on what you want to achieve in the race. Is you objective: training, going for a good time, a personal best, a win, or simply to complete the distance. It doesn’t matter which it is but be clear about your goal, set your pacing plan and stick to it.
· Decide when you are going to register and collect your numbers etc. The options are either to get to the Drill Hall in Geere Street on Saturday afternoon, which will save anxiety on race day, or Sunday morning before the race.
· Determine what time you need to get up on Sunday to be at the race on time. Work back from the starting time of 5am allowing for:
o Time to warm up (at least 20 mins) and stand in a porta-loo queue
o Collect numbers (if you were forced to do this on race morning)
o Parking time
o Travel time
o Rise, Shine and eating time
· Decide and layout what you are going to wear on race morning. Include items to cater for rain or excessive heat, and a change of clothes and shower kit for after the race. Also include some extra toilet paper just in case your particular porta-loo has run out.
· Look at what you are having for breakfast and for during the race. Lay everything out ready for the morning and put race ‘goodies’ in a bag which are best stored in the fridge. Don’t forget a bottle of water for when you are travelling and before the race.
· Check there’s sufficient fuel in the car and you have any toll fees (R6:50 from Durban) in change ready for the trip.
· Set the Alarm – Set the second alarm and don’t forget to set the alarm.
· If you are travelling to Pietermaritzburg or staying away from home the night before the race, take your own pillow with you. This is not only more comfortable, but it also has your own scent which helps us sleep.
· Plan to start at a conservative pace for the first six to ten kilometres and then get into your normal running rhythm, but holding back for the last quarter of the distance. This will help with maintaining good energy reserves.
· Keep in mind that for each lap the first eleven kilometres are predominately uphill, with the final ten predominately very runnable down. While half marathoners can gradually let the brakes off over the second half, marathoners should not allow themselves to get carried away on the second quarter – but which ever race you are doing – keep something in the tank for the short final climb after crossing the Duzi river at Collegians.
· If you are not racing, or if you have not hit peak training of around 45-50km per week for the half marathon and 90-100km per week, for three weeks for the marathon, then plan in some short walks of between one to two minutes every six to ten kilometres. This strategy will allow you to maintain energy and pace throughout the race and deliver a better time than if you simply try to run non-stop.
· Remember that when you cross the line you may well have achieved your goal, but you are also at the base of your next goal: so make recovery a prime focus. Drink carbohydrate, ice your legs, do a cool down jog or even a walk for a few minutes then get your legs above your waist height and when you have changed start with the compression tights and clothing. Looking after yourself at the finish can prevent you from illness and shorten the recovery period.
· Oh and whatever you do – Enjoy your Run – Imagine we are so lucky to be able to take a day to do what we most enjoy doing and have great company to boot!