W10D1 and D1.5 – New Engine Under The Hood!

Heart Failure
Week 10, Day 1
Week 10, Day 1.5

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Heart Failure
I ran across this quote by Bonnie Pfiester on Instagram today and it got me thinking.  I don’t necessarily agree with it 100% because I do kind of like the feeling of running but, that last part about loving the feeling of living is quite noteworthy.  I was going over some various heart conditions today during my studies and, when it comes to heart failure, the first symptom is fatigue and really, unless you are doing some kind of exercise which really benefits your heart then that symptom of fatigue is almost inevitable.

Long ago, when I drove for EMT, I had a patient I took to the hospital several times.  This guy was slated for a heart transplant.  I still remember the first time I picked this guy up.  We were only supposed to transport patients that were ambulatory, meaning they were mobile and could get around on their own.  This guy was pushing the definition of ambulatory, he was rather infirmed and must have taken a full 10 minutes to ambulate to my car and that was with me helping him.  The absolutely mind blowing part was on a subsequent pickup I had with this same man …after his heart transplant.  He told me he received the heart of a 21 year old Marine and he now felt like he was back in his 20s himself.  It was astounding.  We didn’t talk much on our first trip together but made up for it on our subsequent trips.  He told me he would get winded and have to take a break from simply putting on his shoes.

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After an exhilarating trip to the DMV this morning, I stopped by a convenience store and took a picture of all the energy type supplements for sale right next to the cash register.  I was thinking of all the energy drinks available and looking at all these different quick fix pills but, no drink or pill is going to ever trump and efficient and healthy heart.  None of those over the counter supplements will ever make a person feel younger or more in tune with life then a regular program of running.

A lot of people may have heard that the human heart is about the size of your clenched fist and that is pretty much true for a healthy heart but, I spent over a year in a cadaver lap and we had buckets of hearts and if you take your fist and spread your fingers wide apart …that’s the size of some of the unhealthy and inefficient hearts we looked at.  The heart is a muscle.  If you hit the gym and train with weights you can put extra resistance on your muscles and they will get bigger over time.

Hypertension is the extra resistance a heart muscle will face that makes the heart bigger and less efficient over time.  Basically, the actin and myosin filaments which slide past each other to contract a muscle become  less overlapped which is what causes the lack of efficiency because the contractions aren’t as strong.

I think overuse or long term abuse of stimulants to help achieve higher energy levels will ultimately contribute to lower energy levels due to the abuse and extra tension put on the heart.  Imagine sprinting 100 yards as opposed to walking 100 yards.  It’s the same distance but sprinting will tax your legs much more than walking.  Likewise, if you stimulate the heart to beat faster then it’s unnaturally taxing the heart muscle.  If your heart beats faster while running you have leg muscle contractions to help pump blood back to the heart but, if you’re just sitting in a chair with an elevated heart rate then one is simply providing extra resistance to the heart which, in the long run will cause the heart to hypertrophy, become less efficient and increase fatigue.

Week 10, Day 1
My first run of week 10 was definitely a game changer.  I took off faster than I should have on a 1/2 mile track at a local park that I visited a few days earlier but opted out of running on it at that time.  Normally, I would tell myself to slow down to help make sure I can jog for my allotted time per the training schedule I am following but …I simply didn’t care.  I didn’t care that my brain was telling me that I was running too fast.  I kept going.

My normal walking pace is over 18 minutes per mile, just a tad over 3 mph.  A slow jogging pace would be at least 4 mph or 15 min/mile.  I am fully aware that people can walk that fast, hell, I can walk that fast but, I’m jogging and I’m not anybody else but me.  Yesterday, on Day 1, I was seeing my pace in the 13 min/mile range which is up towards a 4.6 mph pace.  I still didn’t care and, as fate would have it, I didn’t need to care, I just kept right on running.  I ran 2 miles in 26 minutes and change.  I completed that first mile in 13:02 and a second one in in 13:33.

This all seems pretty humbling as I’m writing it all down because the times are so slow but honestly, I was kind of ecstatic 🙂  To put this in perspective, consider my average per mile pace over the past three months.

In March, my average pace was 18:26
In April, my average pace was 16:40
In May, my average pace was 14:24

Obviously, I didn’t have my Excel spreadsheet handy while I was running but, I knew I was running at a faster than normal pace.  I could feel the strength in my legs and I literally felt like a different person.  During the last part of my second mile, I was even able to increase the pace, …first into the 12 minute range, then I reached for another gear and went down into the 11 min/mile range and held that pace until I finished those 2 miles.

Car-Engine-1

I literally felt like I had a new engine under the hood.  I wasn’t the same person running yesterday than I was when I started this program 10 weeks ago.  This engine was sturdier and had more horsepower than what I was previously used to.  I could literally feel that I had changed.  This engine is more reliable than what I was running with.  I knew it was going to last me for my entire 25 minute run.  (I added the extra minute something to be sure and hit that two mile mark)

So… hitting that 13:02 first mile and knowing – really knowing that I was going to be able to crank out another mile in spite of that pace was pretty darned cool.  My last engine was OK but quite unreliable.

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Week 10, Day 1.5
So with this new engine under the hood, it’s like I’ve got this new toy, kind of like when I first got my first motorcycle and wanted to keep taking it out for a ride.  I wanted to take this new engine out for another spin and even though it was a bit late in the evening I headed out on my off day for an extra run and easily cranked out a mile with a time of 13:49.

I like this new engine, It’s pretty cool and during my run, I was thinking of changing my tagline from I Can Run a Minute to I can run a Mile! 🙂

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