Running After a Heart Attack

Hi, I used to run regularly – up and out of the door by 5.30 am 3 or 4 times each week.  That was until 4 weeks ago when I had 2 heart attacks and heart surgery.  I am recovering well and plan to return to work soon but I am struggling to get my fitness back to where it was before the heart attacks.  I used to run a 4 mile route at a leisurely 36 minutes but I have struggled to run for more than 20 minutes before having to stop and walk because I am just too tired.  My doctor and rehabilitation nurse have advised to do as much as I am comfortable doing and to build up slowly but I seem to have just got stuck on 20 minutes. 

Does anybody out there have any experience of starting to run again after a heart attack and any advice they can share.  

Kind RegardsScooby


  • Scooby if you go to a site called Cardiac Athletes you will find lots of people on there with similar  experiences, in fact just about anythig that can go wrong with your heart and getting back to exercise again.

  • I think you're doing bloody well to keep going for 20 minutes, walk run policy seems about right. Forgive me if I'm being a bit thick but would a heart rate monitor be of any use to keep track of how you're doing? Best of luck image

  • I contracted viral myocarditis a while ago and was out of training for 12+ months.  I was referred to the Cardiac Athletes website by forumites and found it helpful.  I also found British Heart Foundation (I spoke to their head nurse, Siobhan I think that her name was) who more helpful than my GP.  He was convinced that I "just had asthma".

    I do HR training which helped in my eventual diagnosis as I was able to take in my training log and show them the changes in my HR etc.  Long term, it might be worth thinking about HR training (apart from just keeping track of your HR) as the focus is on mileage at low intensity HR.

    Before I became ill, I'd been doing 40 - 50 m per week and was in my last few weeks of taper before a mara.  When I started back, I could barely walk to the end of the road  -  I'd lost all my stamina and fitness after being out of action for so long.  You have to forget what you used to be able to do and just focus on what you can do at the moment / this week.  Start slowly - don't worry that it's more walk than run, just do what feels comfortable - better to do a few sessions a week at a slower pace than one that pushes you too much.  You'll soon build up fitness etc, it just takes patience.

    Good luck

  • I went through this last year. It took me a long time to get going again in terms of racing speed - about 8 months before I could reach my old racing speed and over a year before I could sustain it for the whole duration of a race. A lot of it comes down to confidence, especially if the medics are trying to hold you back. I also post on Cardiac Athletes too image

    Do you have any scarring? Test figures for ejection fraction? Did they run a stress test on you?


  • Thank you all for the advice.  I think it was around 2001 when I first came across this website and I don’t think that I have ever posted anything and obviously didn’t think that my first post would be one of this nature!


    JF50, Jeepers – I have joined Cardiac Athletes and alreadyfound it very useful.  Thank you so much.


    Steel – yes that’s a great idea.  Already started on some research on HRMs.  I do keep an eye on my pulse and have started to do some cardio on the gym which is helping me and which I find much better as I can stop and start again whenever I like which is easier than when out running on the streets. Thank you!


    Joe, I had a stent inserted through my wrist so no major scars thankfully!



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