Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Athletic Heart

Last week I went to visit my cardiologist for a check-up. It has been 3 years since I saw him last when I was having dizzy spells while running. At the time after a thorough check up - including an echocardiograph report that stated, 'some exercise-induced ventricular hypertrophy consistent with athletes heart' - my cardiologist stated that I was probably going to be okay but he couldn't guarantee that I wouldn't die while running . Just to let you know that he couldn't guarantee that 'anyone' wouldn't die running or for that matter while sitting on their couch at home!

So this time around my cardiologist checked out my ECG trace which like last time showed that I have an inverted P wave. He explained that this just means that unlike most people where the heart beat is initiated by an electrical signal at the sinoatrial node because I run a lot and have a low resting heart rate (about 45 beats per minute) my heart beat is initiated at a different site, lower down in the heart at an 'ectopic pacemaker'. This is nothing to worry about at all and he gave me the all clear to run the Antarctic Marathon - although this time he wouldn't guarantee that I wouldn't get frostbite!!

I was very pleased to hear my heart report and to celebrate on Saturday morning I did a 30km run. Using my trusty Garmin GPS I was able to run from Brighton Beach Baths for 15km to Mentone and then turn around and run 15km back to complete my 30km run. Unfortunately it wasn't quite that easy and even though we started running at 7.30am it was still a bit too warm so the last 10km were really hard work. At the 10 and 20km mark I stopped and took a gel to give me energy I also had to refill my camelbak (which holds about 2 litres) so at least I knew I was well-hydrated. So I finally finished my 30km run in a time of 3hr 4min with an average heart rate of 147 bpm and average pace of 6:07min/km. So overall a good run but I was pleased it was over and it now means I only have two more long runs (over 30km) to complete before I leave for Antarctica :).

This afternoon I did my second interview for ABC Southern Queensland Drive and really had a fun time. The guy chatting with me suggested I could acclimate by running in a 'cold room' I replied that I wasn't sure if a treadmill would work in the cold - but I was willing to try! Does anyone have a really big freezer room for me to test out running?


  1. That's great news about your heart :) I remember how frustrated you were when it was all being investgated the first time - and how cool to 'celebrate' with a 30km run!

  2. Sounds great about your heart - super interesting that you have the "runners heart" with the inverted wave - my resting hr is around 45/50 too - wondering now..

    Anyway, good luck training! Hope to see ya down on the ice soon!

  3. Athlete’s Heart is a result of athlete’s engaging in dynamic physical activity such as (more tham 5 hours a week) aerobic training or tennis, rather than static training such as weight lifting.

    Since the body is using larger muscle groups under extreme resistance for long periods of time, the heart adapts and adjusts to these strenuous oxygen and blood demands by enlarging.