I’m not really sure how to start this post. As most of you know, I tweaked my IT band at the end of January and spent most of February away from running. I thought my heart rate monitor (HRM) would be a good tool to pace myself when my IT band started feeling good enough for me to run for more than a mile at a time.
I spent a little time online, researching how to calculate your heart rate and what range your heart rate should be in as you jogged, ran, pushed yourself, etc. As I started to increase my distance, I had plans to keep my running really slowly – somewhere around 60-90 seconds slower than the pace I was working towards before I got injured. According to this plan my heart rate should be below 170 beats per minute (likely at around 165) with the effort I would be putting in.
Imagine my surprise, when after one measly minute of running my Garmin beeped and told me my heart rate was above 180. I figured I needed some time to get into a groove so I kept my pace comically slow for another 10 minutes, as my heart rate kept climbing to just shy of 200 and my Garmin continued to make a racket chirping out “Your heart rate is way too high!!” alerts. I stopped for a few minutes and let my heart rate settle back down to 170 but as soon as I started to move again my heart jumped back up to 198. I was starting to get really worried, which I’m sure wasn’t helpful. I finished my first mile in 11:44 and an average heart rate of 194. I took mile 2 even slower and my heart rate was 196. Mile 3 was up to 12:48 and my heart rate was up to 198 (with spikes up to 205). I was having a hard time catching my breath, which was something I always thought was related to my lungs and allergies but now I was starting to think it was due to my heart.
I spent the night pretty nervously searching Google, WebMD, and a ton of websites for information on why my heart rate was so high. Most of the sites said go get your heart checked out but a few said some people have a baseline heart rate that’s higher than normal. I’ve done 3 runs since, with miles at a variety of paces and some felt stellar (like yesterday’s speedy 3 miles) and some left me gasping for air. The problem is that no matter my pace and no matter the duration my heart rate rarely dips below 195 beats per minute (during yesterday’s run I saw 194 briefly come across the Garmin’s display and I did a little cheer). It’s amazing what you can figure out with a relatively cheap piece of technology.
I’d been planning to make a cardiologist appointment to check all of this out after the GW 10 Miler, because honestly there’s no way I’m missing it. But I talked to my mom last night (mom’s a nurse and also has a very seriously rapid heart beat – without medicine hers is 165 resting!) and she convinced me to push the appointment up because it takes a long time to order tests, schedule tests, and review the results. So now I have an appointment on Wednesday March 14.
I’m surprisingly less stressed about this than I thought I’d be. As far as I can tell, as long as there’s nothing structurally damaged (for example, valves not catching properly), there’s no reason that I should have to stop running. My mom reminded me that cardio strengthens the heart and as long as the extra beats weren’t causing dizziness there was no reason to stop (though I do need to watch my breathing). I may be relegated to perpetually run what most people consider really slow miles but I’m ok with that. I’m pretty much not considering the alternative for now. If it turns out to be something worse, I’ll worry about it then.
All of the runs I have scheduled between now and Wednesday will still happen, including the Four Courts Four Miler that I’ve been so excited about. Since Suze tweaked her IT band the boyfriend will run with me (yay!). Who else is running?