After the past few months of diagnosis of a Supraventricular Tachycardia I’ve had appointments with cardiologists and heart surgeons and now back to the cardiologist. I had accepted that my days running ultra marathon distance races was probably behind me and had earmarked some shorter races and some new focusses for my running moving forward.
Enter my cardiologist follow up appointment this week. Evidently my cardiologist and heart surgeon speak to each other, or at least exchange emails that have looked at the data of my SVT episodes and have rejigged my diagnosis from a supraventricular tachycardia to a atrial tachycardia. Yeah right. When the cardiologist uses big words and draws pictures of a heart on page it’s difficult to understand the difference. but when he spoke in lament terms he said an AT is a hot spot on the upper chamber of my heart which takes the reins of my heart occasionally and makes it beat really fast (usually about 60 sec at 150 -160 bpm) and then the rest of my heart kicks the hot spot out of the saddle and normal programming resumes. The AT is pretty benign and as it only happens every two weeks or so its not something to worry too much about.
But…….AT can be a precursor to Atrial Fibrillation which can be more sinister and lead to nasty things like strokes and other stuff that isn’t great. Other issue is the treatment is generally a beta blocker which lowers your heart rate. With my history of running I’ve developed a resting heart rate in the high 30’s to low 40’s. Beta blockers aren’t option as they’ll push my heart too low. So although my new diagnosis of AT isn’t a super bad thing for my long term health, it is a super bad thing for my long term running.
Yeah cool doc….. So how much can I run?
Well………We would say moderate running distances only, 30 – 40 minutes at a time.
What about short races?
We would not recommend races as you’ll push the intensity to the same effect as running long distances.
So… it’s ok to still run for fitness but with only keeping a low heart rate?
Yes. 30 -40 minutes low heart rate is ok. Everything in moderation.
Not exactly what I was hoping for.
After a few days to think about this new prognosis I’m surprisingly calm and accepting. I’ve had a great journey in running which isn’t over just yet. I ran my first marathon in 2001 and 20+ years later I’m still able to compete at a similar level. I’m very grateful for everything running has taught me.
Before this diagnosis I had earmarked a return to a half marathon in March and trying to training within my cardiologists guidelines and seeing how well I can do. I will now train exclusively with heart rate in zone 2 and maybe enter a 10km in March and see how I fast I can get training and racing in zone 2.
Sometimes life gives you a kick in the face and the news you get isn’t what you want. This past few months has been one of these times, but my long term health and my family are greater priorities to me then whether I can reach another personal best. I’m happy to move forward to a new phase of my running journey.
Also, I’m looking for feedback on Apple Watches for running. I need a watch with an ECG option. Comment below if you run with an Apple Watch.