As Exercise Or Training Load Increase Risk Of Injury Climbs Exponentially So Monitor Your Body And Especially Your Pulse Daily

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”

“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.”

Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

Hi folks! Thanks for stopping by!

FitOldDog wearing his Yoga Toes

Yoga Toes are a great tool for the runner as distance and speed increase – you can’t run without happy feet. Yoga Toes help you find those tight spots that could take you down!

Endurance training is seasonal, with periods of more or less effort, and when the load is high risk of injury is at it’s highest, making it even more critical that you monitor the state of your body.

It’s been an interesting day, today, as I noticed that my pulse has become extremely irregular. I find that I miss beats when in heavy training, which I am, but not like this. Just a bit too much for comfort! So, as I want to be FitOldDog, not DeadOldDog, I recruited a series of stethoscope-equipped supporters, including Deb (Nurse and Partner) who found it interesting and worrisome, saying we need an EKG (electrocardiogram), Stacey (PA and friend) who said, “we need an EKG,” local (and great) ‘doc in a box’ who performed an EKG (see adjacent image), and talked of heart attacks old and new, stents and ablation therapy (no mention of wedge pressures, except by me, thank goodness), referring me to a local cardiologist ASAP, whilst advising no training for now.

FitOldDog's EKG

FitOldDog’s electrocardiogram on May 19th 2013, which contains information that is both reassuring and sinister, but it certainly confirms the heart rate irregularity detected during my morning pulse check – what would you do?

I took all of these things with a pinch of salt and contemplation (life is brief, after all, and I am about to reach my allotted three score years and ten), and started my research. I will see the cardiologist for input, basing the elected treatment on my personal risk-benefit analysis. Cutting back on exercise a little is advised as I’m physically exhausted, which is normal at this stage of endurance training, but stopping completely is a mistake – the body hates violent change. Oh! Yes! My heart beat appears to be fine under load. What insights does this nascent saga hold for you, the generally younger athlete or exercise enthusiast? Two things, I say:

“Beware the power of fear of litigation on the American Medical Machine, and listen to what is said and left unsaid, then research your situation as you seek their potentially life saving, and sometimes life destroying, assistance.” For instance, I may just be low in magnesium or have actually suffered a ‘silent’ heart attack with an associated electrical conduction problem – we’ll see. I’ll keep you posted (if I can!). Life is fascinating.

“For training and general health monitoring, an excellent variable to follow is your pulse.”

Assess your heart rate, both resting and whilst training, and determine its quality and regularity, as such things can provide critical and potentially life-saving information, especially as you age – so stop and listen. If you are overtraining, or going down with a cold, your resting pulse will increase by a few beats. Irregular or missed beats should be taken seriously and checked out with a good sports physician. The goal of the older athlete is to keep going as long as possible, whilst trying to avoid dying in the attempt. The key to our survival is body awareness!

FitOldDog's Paleo breakfast.

FitOldDog loves his Paleo breakfast of local eggs, salad, and a little smoked salmon as a treat. What’s life without a treat from time to time?

Indicators of overtraining include altered sleep patterns, low appetite, unusual muscle tightness, reduced performance, and irritability.

This is the value of a good coach, to get you to the starting line injury free.

You have to do your share of the work, too, by staying aware of your mental and physical state. If you find yourself stumbling as a result of tiredness on the trail, or motivation is at an all time low, back off, regroup, and back on with the modified plan. Remember to let your coach and health advisors know what is going on!

Stay aware to stay safe.

-k @FitOldDog



  1. Of note, an important aspect of your irregular heart rhythm was that you were symptomatic.If an athlete notices palpitations or skipped beats at rest, it is time to get checked out. I look forward to the next installment of your saga!

  2. Hi Stacey, if I am indisposed, I hope that you will continue the tale! Thanks for your help and support today.

  3. Dr Jo Franklin says

    Hi Kevin – that ECG shows what look like supraventricular extrasystoles (SVEs) to me, as I’m sure you know. Best to follow all the advice & get cardio opinion, but these are v common & usually cause no problem if they are not associated with any other symptom, but can initiate a run of supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) or atrial fibrillation. SVEs are much more benign than those arising from the ventricle. The trouble with extrasystoles is that once you become aware of them, they become more intrusive – i.e you’ve probably had them for some time. Also v common that they disappear on exercise. It is likely the cardio will suggest a treadmill test to monitor effect of ex, see if you can be ‘exercised out’ of them occurring or whether a run of tachy can be stimulated & if so if there are any ischaemic effects noted at the time. Take it easier – walk the dogs & stop to smell the flowers! – for a bit, until you have the OK. Not that they will form part of your training routine or paleo diet I shouldn’t think, but lay off the espresso & alcohol for now! All the best 7 keep us updated. Jo

  4. Hi Jo, thanks for your interpretation, which is much appreciated. Years since I looked at these traces. I was diagnosed with PACs, and will have an echocardiogram in about two hours. If all is well,they plan to give me a monitor for a week to collect data while I’m living my life, including training and the Mountains of Misery on Sunday (I’ve decided cut it back to the 100 mile loop for caution’s sake, and other reasons). I think I have had it for years, but for some reason it became really noticeable, with more than the odd ‘missing beat.’ Plus I now notice my heart beat when at rest. On exercise all sense of my heart and any tightness (which is very slight) vanish. I’ll keep you posted on this saga as it proceeds, and thanks a million for your interest. No man is an island! If you’re around you would be very welcome at my 70th birthday party next month (29th of June). Time for tea and meditation now; one of my favorite times of the day. I’ll cut down on coffee and wine, as you suggest. Not a bad thing, anyway. Kind Regards, Kevin

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.