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Friday, March 16, 2012

Six Months of Running

Since it is almost six months now since my cardiologist gave me the thumbs up to start working running into my exercise program, I thought it would be  a good time to look back and see what kind of progress has been made.

Here is an entry that I logged into, the website where I log all of my runs.

September 19, 2011

Cardiologist gave me the ok to start working in some jogging into my walks. Started out with 20 minutes of zone 1 walking, then picked up the pace. Worked in stretches of 100-200 yards of jogging about 6 times. Figured I got a half mile jogging in. Felt GREAT each jogging session for the first 20 strides, but heart rate would spike into the 150's and figured it prudent to back off the intensity. Still felt good to push it a little. Total time was actually 3 minutes slower than last time I walked this course, but that's because of the extremely slow first mile. When I did this course in 83:06 I only spent 3 seconds in zone 1.

Distance:  5.08 Miles
Time: 1 Hour 26 Minutes 53 Minutes
Pace: 17:06 per mile
Speed:3.51 miles per hour
Heart Rate:  Average 132, Maximum 167

A note about zones:    Zone 1 is a area where your heart rate is 60-70% of maximum heart rate.   Zone 2 is 70-80% of maximum heart rate.

Now lets fast forward to today.    I thought it would be a good idea to see where I am today, so I decided to run the same course I ran that day in September.

Distance: 5.08 Miles
Time: 55 Minutes 05 Seconds
Pace: 10:53 per mile
Speed 5.5 miles per hour
Heart Rate: Average 139, Maximum 152

When I completed that first walk/run in September, I had serious reservations about whether or not I should have gone through the bypass surgery that doctors at the world renowned Cleveland Clinic had recommended.   A meager 100-200 yards of running was pushing my heart rate near my maximum and I quickly became out of breath.   From that day it was nearly three months before I could complete a 3 mile run without  having to stop and walk and another month after that till walking was no longer required to get me through my running sessions.  Today I am convinced more than ever that I have made the right decision.

I am convinced now more than ever that Coronary Artery Disease is a food borne illness that can be prevented and even reversed by making some simple lifestyle changes.  What are these changes?

1) Eat Properly:   For me that meant eliminating all meat, dairy, oils or nuts.   As Doctor Caldwell Esselstyn puts it, eat nothing with a face or a mother.  Eat more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and lentils.   When I first started on this program, my cardiologist suggested having fish (specifically salmon, tuna and halibut) twice a week and a nice lean steak once a month.   He didn't want me to fail, so he allowed me to cheat just a little.    I no longer have the cravings for red meat and have adopted an even stricter diet.   Keep in mind that I'm trying to reverse a blockage in one of my main coronary arteries that took nearly sixty years of unhealthy eating to develop.   If you don't have coronary artery disease, you don't necessarily have to go to the extremes that I have.

2) Exercise:   At least 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week.    Something aerobic that gets the heart rate up.   Sorry guys, golfing is not exercise.  I think running is perfect for me, but you can walk fast, play tennis, swim or some of the new high intensity programs like Zumba.

3) Medication:   Since I had advanced coronary artery disease, I needed to get my high cholesterol down and reduce my risk of stroke and heart attack.    My doctor prescribed a high dose of Lipitor for my cholesterol,  a low dose beta blocker to keep my heart from being able to pump at high intensities to reduce the risk of a stroke and finally a low dose aspirin regimen .   I have taken control of my own health care and I agreed to these medications as a short term treatment until the life style changes can take effect.   But my orders to my doctors are to come up with a treatment plan that weens me off the drugs and treats the causes of the disease rather than the affects of it.

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