Sunday, December 07, 2014


I was really happy with the results from Wednesday's evaluation and was still determined to take it rather easy in training. So when I got up on Thursday morning I expected yet another easy, slow, mundane 10 mile run like I have done hundreds of times before.

I started at a very easy effort, as always, gradually warmed up over the first mile or two and by mile 3 I was well within my stride and just gliding along when all of a sudden my chest started feeling restricted and breathing became laborious. It felt like I had something heavy sitting right in the centre of my chest and I thought that it felt like a mild asthma attack. Lola has just been sick for 2-3 weeks with a virus infection that had kept her coughing and feeling weak and I was fairly sure I was fighting off the same bug. I kept on running; I might have felt a bit uncomfortable but nothing major. Right at the end I tested how my breathing would react if I upped the pace; the answer was, it almost knocked me out.

Still, I didn't think too much of it until I uploaded my run onto the computer and had a look at the HR graph. That's when I almost fell off my chair with shock.

The spike at mile 3 is the most shocking thing but the flat line afterwards is just as unusual. I ran over several hills and the HR should have had a few ups and downs, just like you can see in the first 3 miles.

I uploaded that image onto facebook to ask some more experienced friends what they thought of it (it only occurred to me afterwards that posting medical stuff on FB isn't the smartest move, probably). A few dismissed it as a malfunctioning HRM, but I knew that was not the case because I know I had felt "something" at mile 3; this was real. The feedback from the ones that took it more seriously was mostly reassuring, but I was worried enough to see my GP straight away. She took a few measurements (my systolic BP was rather high) and gave me a referral letter for a cardiologist, though what really struck me was the rather worried look on her face. She did not tell me to stop running, though.

I did feel like crap for the rest of the day, and in fact thought I was about to faint when driving home (taking deep breaths got that under control), which is obviously highly dangerous and not something to take lightly. The next morning I decided to test how I was and started my usual pre-run preparations. That included gently bouncing up and down for a minute and after that I was so exhausted and felt lightheaded I had to sit down on the kitchen floor to avoid keeling over. Not good. Not good at all. I went to work and hardly made it through our stand-up meeting without collapsing, so went home again and into bed, which is where I should have stayed all along.

I gradually felt better again after lunchtime, and almost back to normal in the evening. I wore my HRM for a while, and my resting HR was at 80 initially but dropped to 50 by the end of the day. I still took another rest day on Saturday but was okay for a long day of music lessons, Christmas shopping and other errands, so on Sunday morning I got out my shoes once more and started running. I was perfectly fine at first, if a bit paranoid and kept checking my HR, which I normally never do. After about 2.5 mile I thought I felt a bit off so turned around. I got home without any incidents. My HR was a bit high but nothing out of the ordinary, and after 2 days of not running it always is a bit elevated, so that's okay.

Chances are you won't get rid of me so easily and I'll be okay. I will take it very easy for a while and forget about training for a World Championship. I still suspect that virus from Lola has something to do with it, but I will have to wait and see until I get my appointment with the cardiologist to get some more professional feedback. I've had some HR spikes before, on an almost annual basis in fact, but nothing for over five years. I read through my blog entries from those happenings and felt rather reassured; they had felt very similar and did not stop me from running or developing into a more serious runner.

4 Dec
10 miles, 1:22:03, 8:12 pace, HR 147
5 Dec
6 Dec
7 Dec
5 miles, 38:48, 7:45 pace, HR 143


  1. That's a very tough post to read.I underwent a battery of tests last summer after going to the GP- everything was fine but she said i had kanckered my body and may have had a viral problem but nothing she could figure out. I am sure it's probably a viral thing with you and combined with some incredibly hard running of late took it's toll on you. Rest and a sensible attitude will see you through it. It might clear up very quickly

  2. This sounds very like me in the Spring of 2009. A viral infection that took at least 6 months to get over. I had the full battery of tests and while it didn't stop my running it did impact on performance until about the spring of 2010. My brother-in-law had a similar experience (long sportive cycling is his thing) and was below par for most of a year as well. The bottom line is "listen to your body". We're running at a point in time when most elites are long retired and adapting to the changes we experience is the only way to stretch more fun out of the whole thing.


  3. Those have been exactly my symptoms. Drove myself to the E.D. of the hospital in the middle of the night (dumbest idea ever), last Monday. Still don't have a clear head today (Thursday) and still have nausea if I wake during the night. Take care. You don't want to be out of action for 6 months.

  4. The most sensible thing I've read from Richard. Ever.

  5. That is very scary, I hope you feel better now!