What Can I Do ? Now that I can't do marathons ?

Over the past few years, I've done some marathons as well as a collection of other events (HM's, cyclosportives, multi day cycling events, triathlons, adventure races etc, you get the picture), but I've been told by my doctor never to do any more marathons.

I don't really want to get into discussions about the reasons why (it's related to an arrhythmia), please just take it that I'll follow his advice as he's not just one of the most respected heart surgeons in the country but has also done a load of marathons as well.

The problem is that I miss them (the marathons that is, not my heart palpitations) and it really sunk in for the first time last weekend when a lot of my friends ran the local marathon. I really missed the nervous anxiety leading up to it, the team spirit and the whole public adoration thing that only marathons seem to get.

I'm feeling a bit lost as to what to replace them with. I've always said that HM's are my favourite distance, but I'll still miss a full marathon. 

I've been given the all clear for HM's and any Tri's up to and including Olympic distance, but I'm feeling a bit 'bleh' about them.

Can anybody suggest anything ? It seems that it's the combination of an elevated heart rate over the duration of the marathon that's the problem. When he told me not to do marathons, I had to bite my tongue to stop myself asking him if Ultra's would be okay, as I didn't want him to think that I was taking the pi$$.

 

 

 

Comments

  • The ultra thing might not be such a silly question. I mean if you do them a sedate non race like pace perhaps it's not causing as much stress as a flat out HM. I have no idea by the way but it doesn't seem like a stupid question.

  • senidMsenidM ✭✭✭
    +1 for ultras, although I use a Galloway timer thingie and generally do a 4:1 run/walk ratio, so shouldn't think it gives me any heart problems, not before my legs give out anyway.
  • I understand how you feel having been off pretty much all exercise for over 6 years due to illness. It is tough but it could be a whole lot worse. How about marathon/ultra distance walking? Or just try and accept that it's a part of your life that is over now, enjoy the memories and move on (ie don't try and find a replacement just do your HMs etc).

  • What about helping out at marathons? Volunteer and you're still part of the race. You just don't have to do the run.
  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    Redj,

    How old were you when you started and for how many years have you been doing the events?

  • Thanks everyone for the suggestions.

    I was thinking along those same lines with the Ultra's in that I didn't see it as a stupid question because of the lowered heartrate etc, I just thought that it would come across as taking the mickey. 

    "Thank you doctor for all your work and I know that you've just told me that I can't run 26.2 miles, but how about running 50 ? "

    Maybe I'll think of a better way to present it before I see him again.

    I do marshal quite a lot at different events. I'll be marshaling at a local ultra in a couple of weeks and enjoy that side of it as well. 

    Maybe coaching would be a route to look at as well.

    RicF, I'd been running for maybe 10 years and I'm in my early 50's.

    Thanks for your suggestions, it's helpful.

     

     

     

     

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    So you waited until your 40's before starting this lot.

    HM's, cyclosportives, multi day cycling events, triathlons, adventure races etc, you get the picture

    Yes...

    I don't think playing games with the doctors words helps here either.

    The problem is with your heart, not the type of event you fancy.

    Very doubtful if even possible to separate one type of exertion from another. Your heart can't tell the difference. It's just a pump which is showing signs of strain.

     

     

  • RicF wrote (see)

    So you waited until your 40's before starting this lot.

    HM's, cyclosportives, multi day cycling events, triathlons, adventure races etc, you get the picture

    Yes...

    I don't think playing games with the doctors words helps here either.

    The problem is with your heart, not the type of event you fancy.

    Very doubtful if even possible to separate one type of exertion from another. Your heart can't tell the difference. It's just a pump which is showing signs of strain.

     

     

    Not sure what point you're trying to make here Ric. I said that I wasn't going to do anything that wasn't approved by the doc and have no intention of playing with his words, I was just looking for interesting alternatives to marathons.

    I have fairly clear guidelines on what I can and can't do (HM's and Olympic Tri's), but was wondering if anybody could think of anything else. Obviously primarily running or cycling, but I used to race 8 meter sports (sail)boats and am thinking about going back into that (I wasn't expecting that as a suggestion though).

    No disrespect, but I think that I'll leave the medical advice to the heart surgeon & the cardiac consultant I've been dealing with, what I was looking for from the forum was some advice on alternatives to marathons. 

  • How about the relay team option that some marathons offer?
  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    The fact that you could drop down dead from one foray into the red zone because you want to exercise, is of concern to me.

     I've had first hand experience of failing to save the life of another runner who died in front of me from a heart condition.

    It was also left to me to ignore the puke and other potential risks and sort it out while others stood around letting it slip that they knew what to do, but didn't want to because of...

    That's most people. They don't care about you.

    And you want their advice?

     

     

     

     

     

  • Okay Ric, fair point. I commend your actions and thank you for being that person that helped (absolutely no sarcasm intended). A person I know collapsed last year in a marathon and if it weren't for the fact that the guy literally right behind her was a cardiac nurse, she'd be dead.

    The only point I want to make is that I won't drop dead from my condition. It doesn't happen. I've had that conversation with the Docs. The worst that would happen is that I'd go back into arrhythmia and have to walk home and then go back and explain to the surgeon what happened whilst eating humble pie. I don't intend having to tell him that I was doing he told me not to.

    If I thought that I was putting my life at risk by running then I wouldn't run another step out of a combination of fear, respect for my family and friends and not wanting to have to put somebody in that position where they try and save me. 

    I want to minimise the risk of it happening again whilst trying to find something to do to replace the marathons. Maybe fell or trail running or something completely different. I think that I'll probably go back more to cycling and focus on HM's and shorter. I just miss the buzz leading up to the marathon.

     

     

     

     

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  • DustinDustin ✭✭✭

    can you do short distances, or does your condition put a strain on your heart if it's over exerted?
    The murky world of short distance , indoor track and / or decathlons may offer you a challenge. Quite an active area for many vets...

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    Ok Redjeep. So we agree on the risk/outcome (possible) situation.

    Pacemaker perhaps?

     

     

  • The feedback from the doctors was anything up to half marathon or Olympic distance tri's. The surgeon has done 8 or 9 marathons so knew what he was talking about, but I couldn't really get any more detail than that. I think the problem is that they still don't really know what causes it and so can't tell you what you can do to prevent it.

    The condition was atrial fibrillation which was corrected by surgery (ablation), but no pacemaker was fitted (they just kill part of the inside of the heart that's become conductive). I know off people who've had the same op and have gone back to marathons fairly shortly afterwards with no apparent ill effects (yet). There's a fairly long thread on the Health & Injury tab about it.

    I'm not sure about maximum exertion and am still stepping up my training to see how I feel. I've been doing some speedwork and interval training with no ill effects. My problem at the moment is more a lack of fitness and weight gain from a long time with no serious training. 

    I don't really intend to push myself to the absolute max and have accepted that my racing days are over (they never really started), but was looking for something else to obsess over, now that I have all this spare time on a Sunday morning when I'm not doing 20+ mile training runs image.

    Maybe obstacle courses or middle distance adventure races would help me get it out of my system, along with cycling and maybe competitive sailing again. I'll probably also look at marshaling and pacing, which I've always enjoyed and would allow me to give something back to the club.

    Thanks all.

  • Commiserations on the situation RedJeep, but limbo is the worst thing, and it's a real positive you've been diagnoses, treated and given exact parameters on what is realistic.

    Although those don't include the "Big one", there's a world of half marathons out there, let alone all those shorter races, all surfaces, random distances etc. You've still got loads to enjoy out there, and the beauty of these is you can do way more of them, and not have to spend ages recovering!

    I had a scare mid summer last year, and unlike you don't have a definite diagnosis. Can't rule something very serious in, but can't rule it out. Limits? A very sheepish ass covering warning about "very strenuous" activity! I think i'd prefer the exact parameters you had as it plays havoc with your mind!

    After about 10 years of running and racing, and post tests still a bit scared of racing anything over 5k I tried a one miler race yesterday, it was fun! You've now the opportunity to switch things up with new venues and distances. Could be more fun than before.

    Best of luck.

  • How about cross country/hill racing? That looks really fun- depends where you are in the country thoiugh.

  • I had to take a month off due to a few heart probs so I feel your pain. I'm now back running them. I would recommend some of the LDWA events,some of the challenge events are marathon distance and count towards the 100 Mara club. I walked one when I couldn't run and it was brilliant fun.
  • Thanks everyone, I've not checked this thread in a while. 

    I like the idea of the cross country. I've done some trail and hill running and may well step back up to it. I'm thinking of registering for a middle distance adventure race in the spring which will involve 18km of hill running in two stages, so better get some training in !

     Thanks ringo, I'd never thought of the LDWA events, but could see the attraction. I may look into a local group and see how it goes.

     

  • Sorry to hear about the afib, I too have had some very serious heart problems and got back to racing. My SCA (VF) occurred at the end of a 4k (sic) race. I won't try to persuade you to change your mind about the advice but it would be interesting the next time you see this guy to ask him to explain why he thinks the duration of the event is more important than the HR level?

    As for the 'the whole public adoration thing that only marathons seem to get' are you serious? You're talking about the perceptions of non-runners. Have you seen the WAVA scores for your times across different distances (easy to calculate online if you haven't) and can we ask which distance you get your best WAVA score at? If you say you like HMs then do HMs! But that will be a higher race HR than your marathon... image

     

  • Maybe fell or trail running or something completely different.

  • marathons at a easier pace??

    3:45 rather than 3:30.

    ;)

     

  • I would seriously consider obstacle races. There is lots of them now, and the gym work needed to be complete them properly (plyometrics, strength training etc) will give you plenty to obsess over.
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