Run a marathon – it’s doctor’s orders!

Coach Brock and the TnT TeamLast night I had my Team in Training athletes out for their first Hill Training session. It was fun watching the terror in their eyes dissipate as they realized that it wasn’t as bad as it sounded. For them anyway… I had done 12km at 5:00/km followed by 30mins of resistance training earlier that day. Running hills was the last thing I wanted to be doing. I faked some “coaching moments” to give myself a break and hid some lazing at the bottom of the hill as “cheerleading moments” and made it through the session unscathed.

There was one moment last night, while trying to keep pace with one of my more experienced and speedy runners, that I was reminded (by the pain in my chest) of how and why I got into all this craziness in the first place – it was doctor’s orders.

Despite the fact that I am a coach for a team dedicated to the eradication of cancer, it’s actually my own personal heart health background that has driven me to gather the resources, education and training I have amassed over the last 5 years. In December of 2003 I got very ill and contracted pericarditis / myocarditis and spent a lot of time in and out of hospital over the next 1.5 years. I suffered heart failure numerous times (”bradyed down” as they say in the ER), was rushed in for an angiogram, developed an abnormal heart rhythm (Type 1 Second-degree AV block) and basically had the scare of a lifetime (buy me a coffee sometime and I will tell you all about it).

After I had the “all clear” from my cardiologist, instead of leaping for joy, I fell further into the self-pity and depression experienced by many who have had scares like mine. After a few return visits (and even more 24-hour holter monitors) Dr. Williams told me that I needed to do something to prove to my brain that my heart was ok “Like, I don’t know, run a marathon or something”. Heh… little did he know how powerful those words were.

It’s now 11 full marathons, 6 half marathons, 4 triathlons, 2 road bike races (1 century and 1 IronBike), and several 10&15k runs later and I pretty much never think of my heart as anything but a hard working, pumping machine. Thanks doc and thanks running!

Beet Juice? Really?

A friend of mine (thanks Dr. Sexton) sent me an article from the Globe and Mail that has some awesome info in it.

Most of it is not news to anyone who keeps up to date on the latest findings (dynamic stretching diminishes strength and endurance, marathons show short term damage to the heart muscle) but some one it is very interesting. In particular the part that says “nitrates in beet juice are responsible for its endurance-boosting effect”. Apparently “in 2009, researchers at the University of Exeter announced that drinking beet juice for a few days allowed subjects to run about 15 per cent longer in treadmill tests.” Crazy! I know I will be buying some beet juice next time I’m at the grocery store!