Archive | August, 2010

9 Weeks – Recovery

25 Aug

My second week training has gone well. Last week I managed 2 runs and 1 gym session and felt great! Today I attended my second cardiac rehab class and enjoyed the company. It was humbling to hear the stories of others who had suffered heart attacks. Several people described the psychological impact of coming to terms with an unexpected cardiac event. I compared my experience to theirs and certainly feel lucky that my heart condition was easy to resolve. I know I did nothing wrong in terms of lifestyle, diet etc to cause the defect so there is no guilt for me to deal with. All my focus has been on returning to my level of fitness. I am so grateful that I have no heart disease and hopefully never will have!

My main concern this weeks is a very sore neck. This is likely muscular pain following my surgery and is a bit of a pain! I have reduced most of my painkillers down and I am keen to stop them completely. I had a reflexology session on Monday which was fascinating and very accurate about my problems! I am trying Indian head massage on Friday so I am hoping this will relieve the ongoing pain.

I have dropped back on my walks in favour of runs, I completed 2.3 miles today. The endorphins I get from running are incredible. I almost had forgotten what they felt like! It all feels real now, and I am not afraid to tell people I am training for a marathon and fully intend to have a good triathlon season next year. I have even had my first offer of sponsorship from the cardiac rehab team.

3 more weeks until I can get back on my bike and into the pool!

44678_10150259220800343_694765342_14303770_1276627_nMe and my healing scar!

8 Weeks – First Run!

20 Aug

This week I hit my 8 week date, 2 months since my heart surgery. This for me meant I was able to go for my first run in 5 months.

I started the day with my first cardiac rehab session at the local hospital. I had almost been put off before attending, wondering what I would get out of the session and if I would look out of place. Still, always curious to learn more about exercise, I went along and really enjoyed myself. I got chatting to many people with varying heart conditions. I was the youngest there but could still relate to others who had gone through heart surgery. As I told my story, I felt pride at what I have been through and humbled that my return to normal life and exercise has been fairly smooth.

The circuit of cardio exercises and stretches was fun and I was able to push myself in a safe environment. This gave me the confidence to push my heart rate on my first run.

Again, to feel safe, I used my friend’s treadmill with the door open and safety key firmly attached to my shorts! I gingerly warmed up and gradually fell into a jog. Over the 30 minute session I did 2 minutes running followed by 1 minute walking. I remembered the Borg scale taught to me the cardiac rehab class and kept my exertion to 4/10 in order not to push my heart too much. On future runs, I will wear my heart rate monitor to keep my heart rate below 164. I covered 2.2 miles in the session and felt good afterwards. I had no chest pain, discomfort or shortness of breath but my legs did ache!!

After a busy few days with family down and lots of walking, I have decided to limit my runs to one more this week, on Sunday with my friend. This will allow me to recover in the meantime and start out fresh for run no. 2!

I have read about others who have returned to running quickly after heart surgery (some after only 2 week!) but I felt I should follow doctor’s orders and stay within my limits. With a tough marathon time to work towards, there is plenty of time for the pain, strain and sheer exhaustion that accompanies running. For now, I am focusing on little and often, slow and steady :)

Week 7 – On The Road To Running

14 Aug

This week, I have had to do everything possible to restrain myself from breaking into a run! My walks, up to 4 miles at a time, are certainly faster and I feel ready to jog. Even though I love all three disciplines of triathlon, running would certainly be my first choice when starting to exercise again. It’s just as well that I’m allowed to run before cycling and swimming!

Wednesday will be the  8 week point in my recovery. 2 months after surgery means, for me, that I can run. I will be attending a cardiac rehab session at the local hospital, followed by a tentative treadmill session at my friend’s house. I’m not sure how nervous I’ll be but having upped my walking speed recently, my heart rate should be used to the exertion. As well as being sensible and listening to my body about how much I can push myself, I want to eliminate the fear I had when I stopped running back in March. Then, whilst out on a group training run I’d panic that I couldn’t breathe and be overly aware of my heart rate. All has now been fixed with my heart and I hope my confidence will grow during each run.

Emotionally, I have been up and down, but ‘the book’ says this is normal!! Let’s just say I haven’t been the easiest person to live with but I envisage this all to change when I’m back doing my usual activities over the next few weeks. I have decided to go back to work in the office the week after next and have at least 2 days off week. This experience has  made me and others evaluate the amount of time we spend working. Not healthy to work 7 days a week for months on end. Financial concerns mean a holiday isn’t on the cards this year but a renewed energy from me when I’m back in the business should cheer us along to Christmas and a possible Alpine break!

This week I have experienced a person staring at my scar for the first time. Others have told me that see people checking out my scar when I’m in public but up until now, I hadn’t noticed. My feelings were mixed. I found some humour in the situation and pride at what I have gone through. I also felt  a little sad that the scar could cause such a horrified look!

Having targets and deadlines is who I am. So my 8 week point next week, and the celebration of running that will accompany it is what has kept me going through this chapter. Over and over in my mind, I imagine how good it will feel to run again. The same with the scenario where I cross the finish line next April with my ideal marathon time.

Mental conquers physical hands down!!

Weeks 5 And 6 – Walking My Way Back To Health

5 Aug

All this walking has given me time to consider the benefits of gentle exercise. Yes, I have been increasing the distance and speed of my walks and have the inevitable aches and pains but I have to say, I have really enjoyed myself! Rather than a chore, getting out in the open air is refreshing, doesn’t hurt like my lung-busting running sessions and gives me vital reflection time. Either with my iPod or just my thoughts, walks have become a time to unwind.

I didn’t think not working would be as hard as it has been. The problem with our work/life set-up is there is no distinction between the two sections. Working from home means I struggle to escape the pressure pouring out of the office where my partner is busy pulling his hair out with stress! This means my walks are a great time to get out and relax. I realise this is what I used to do when following a training plan working up to a race. My run or gym session in the evening was a de-stress mechanism. With a multitude of people reminding me to take it steady and not do too much, I have to remember that there is a thin line between recovery and sitting on your bum, watching TV and eating chocolate! Not productive by anyone’s standards!

My nursing background has given me insight into the different ways people handle illness and recovery back to health. This also applies to childbirth, I have witnessed woman almost breeze through labour and others appear to suffer the worst kind of torture. My desire to get back to a previous level of fitness is almost powering my body to achieve more than is expected after heart surgery. I have read stories of elite athletics up and about the day after major heart surgery and back training again within 2 weeks. I am most certainly not elite, but I like to think my fitness levels have helped me in this process.

Running is officially allowed in 2 weeks. Can’t wait!