Monday, February 13, 2012
My Crazy Heart
I've finally come out and told people that I've been trying to run. I don't run very fast or very long and I've been struggling a little with how weak and tired I feel while I'm running. I haven't been gasping for breath or wheezing or anything, but the sensation was kind of like being out of breath. On Wednesday, just for fun, I took my pulse right after I finished running. It was 183. That seemed a little high but I wasn't really sure.
Thursday I went to the doctor for a routine check-up. I told her I was feeling more out of breath than I thought I should when I run. She went through a series of questions about my breathing, then she asked about my heart rate. I told her what it was, then told her I recently lost a cousin because of an enlarged heart. She sent me straight to cardiology for an EKG, then to radiology for an x-ray, then had me come straight back to see her. (By the way, I love my health plan - all this was under the same roof and only took half an hour or so.) She looked at my EKG print-out and said it looked good, then showed me my x-ray on her monitor and said my heart looked healthy and normal. Then she ordered a treadmill stress test for the next day.
Friday morning I had my stress test. I wish I had watched a youtube video of a stress test ahead of time so I would have known what to expect. I was supposed to fast for 4 hours before the test, which seemed like no big deal because I hadn't been eating breakfast before I run and the test was in the morning. I just ate dinner as usual on Wednesday then went to the doctor Thursday morning without eating. That was my first mistake. I should have gotten up at 5 am and eaten something, or scheduled my test for later in the day. They were running a little late and by the time I got on the treadmill I hadn't eaten for 16 hours. My next mistake was being afraid to start running. They kept speeding up the treadmill and I kept walking faster and faster. I was afraid if I started to run my pace would be off and I'd fall off the treadmill. You know, kind of like when you step on or off those moving sidewalks at the airport - or am I the only one who almost falls every time? Anyway, lets just say the test was definitely stressful! I had to ask to stop which was kind of humiliating. The nurse practitioner who administered the test said I was too out of shape to run and I should just walk so I didn't stress my heart so much. I really didn't like her.
Now back to the no breakfast thing for a minute. I've learned from my own experience that eating dairy products before exercising doesn't work well for me, and from a friend's experience that eating a box of cheeze-its before exercise isn't good either. Somehow I took that all to mean that I shouldn't eat before I run. A friend of mine suggested I eat oatmeal before running, so on Saturday that's what I did.
Saturday morning I asked my husband to run with me. We ran along the creek by our house, which was great because it's too secluded for me to run there alone. I had oatmeal in my stomach and my new heart monitor strapped to my chest. It was a warm, beautiful morning. I set the monitor to beep when my heart rate got above 180, which was really annoying because it beeped the entire 25 minutes I ran. I maxed out at 194, but was able to hold a conversation with Rick the whole time and I really didn't feel tired. In fact, I felt amazing! I think it was the oatmeal.
I ran again this morning, a little longer and still pretty slow. My heart rate was between 180 and 190. I didn't feel as good as I did on Saturday, but it was colder with a little bit of rain and wind and that kind of annoyed me. I didn't feel overly exhausted or breathless. Yep, definitely the oatmeal.
Yes, I was disobeying the orders of that dumb nurse practitioner, but this morning I emailed my doctor and gave her the details of my last two runs. She then gave me permission to run as long as I slow down to a walk if I feel lightheaded or completely out of breath. It sounds like a good compromise to me. For now I'm going to keep using the heart monitor and I'm keeping a journal of how long I run, my heart rate, how I feel, etc. We'll see if my heart rate lowers as I get in better shape. It may just be that I have a freakishly fast heart.
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