Following are some more thoughts, both practical and philosophical, regarding managing heart problems in preparation for the 2016 Ridge Run. Heart issues are not that uncommon in the Montana running community. There are many friends and acquaintances of mine with heart disease of some form or another. Most are following or have followed the Standard of Care of prescription drugs, surgery and implantable devices. With the intention of presenting some alternative ideas, I wrote the previous post and will continue filling in some details with this one. Hope this helps someone.
The cornerstone of cardiac nutritional support is Magnesium. Besides eating foods high in Magnesium and taking Magnesium supplements, absorbing Magnesium through the skin is another way to get Magnesium into the body.
Most people are familiar with Epson Salt (Magnesium Sulfate) baths. Adding Epson Salts to a bath and doing a soak is heralded as a great way to treat sore joints and muscles. It is a great way to get Magnesium into the body without going through the alimentary canal. Epson Salt crystals also make a great body scrub. Instead of soap, I use Epson Salt for washing. It is a bit abrasive, but is a great exfoliator and has the added side effect of preventing body odor.
Another topical option is Magnesium Lotion which is a Magnesium Brine of Magnesium Chloride. Some mineral springs and saline seas are high in Magnesium Chloride. Not everyone has access to a mineral springs soak, instead apply a Magnesium Lotion or Oil. Try different products. Some products dry out the skin and cause burning and itching. Experiment with some different brands and find what works for you.
The Wisdom or Folly of Doing the Ridge Run with Compromised Health
Does it make sense to do the Ridge Run when one is faced with serious health issues like heart disease? 2016 would be my 20th Ridge Run. I thought I might as well do at least one more and make it an even 20. If I didn’t do it, looking back at this year, I would probably wish that I had.
Later in life, most of our regrets are associated with missed opportunities and not doing things, not so much regretting some of the stupid things we actually did. Although I had some trepidation, I wanted to get in my 20th Ridge Run. 2016 may be my last.
None of us get through life unscathed. Life is a school of experience – a participation sport. You do not get points for sitting on the sidelines avoiding risk. I’m at peace with the notion of death. It is a natural drive of life to preserve life, but it must not come at the expense of living life. Experience wears out the physical form, but builds our spiritual body. It is more important to grow the soul than preserve the physical body. It is just natural human nature to seek comfort avoiding risk, struggle, pain and discomfort. Yet our characters grow when we counteract the gravitation towards comfort and ease.
My experiences have convinced me that our consciousness (or soul or spirit) survives this life, but our bodies don’t. It does not make sense to me that we are just biological robots, an accident of chemistry, and all that we are ceases to exist upon physical death. It makes no sense logically, scientifically or spiritually. My scientific education has NOT convinced me that the academic scientific materialistic model of life can explain everything.
Training Plan for an Off the Couch PR
Jokingly, my goal for 2016 was to set an off the couch PR. It would not be exactly off the couch as I did some training, just not much and hardly any running. Foot troubles are what prevent me from running or hiking much so I biked at bit. Between September and April, I only did a few short runs. Not enough to gain any fitness. Really, not enough to even preserve any running fitness. During the winter months, I downhill skied a couple times a week and come spring I tried to bike an hour or so a couple times a week to acquire some semblance of training.
Knowing how important it is to train on the course, I planned on doing 2 long runs on the course in preparation. As is turned out, I ended up adding a third long training run of the course.
In late June, I did the second half of the course from Bridger Bowl to the M.
In early July I did the first half of the course from Fairy Lake to Bridger Bowl.
My split was so slow on the Ross Pass to Bridger Bowl section; I felt I needed to do that section again to redeem myself. In mid July, I added a third long day going from Ross Pass to Bridger Bowl as fast as I could after having first hiked to Ross Pass from Bridger Bowl.
My other on course training consisted of at least once a week hiking from the M up about half ways towards Baldy and back down. The purpose of this was to condition my quads to the eccentric loading that occurs from going down a steep hill. In my experience, if I do not subject my legs to consistent downhill hiking or running I will get very sore quads when I do. I went up for about 50 minutes and then back down. Minimizing the time on my feet to well under 2 hours during these sessions, kept my foot pain from flaring up too much.
The other training I engaged in focused on building strength without beating up my feet. The corner stone of this training was a general fitness circuit of good old fashion callisthenic type of exercises once or twice a week:
Pull Ups, Push Ups, Side Planks, Leg Lifts and Single Leg Body Weight Quarter Squats, Burpees.
I would do 5 sets of 5.
Race day went well for me. Compared to 2015, I was slower on runable sections such as the foot hill trail before Ross Pass. The strength training and hiking paid off as I was a bit faster on the steep uphill hike sections. As it turned out, my overall time for 2016 ended up just a tad faster than 2015. Given that last year, I trained with significant more running, I was surprised. But last year was slow as I took a hard fall and had been experiencing inconsistent performance abilities depending upon whether or not my heart felt like beating correctly or not. Last year I had one good race, the Prickly Pear up in Helena. All the rest, compromised cardiac output limited my performance.
Miraculous Nature of Life
Life is a mysterious concept. It is a paradox of fragility and robustness; never ceasing to amaze. In a few short months, I went from sensing I could die at any moment (the impending sense of doom in stage IV cardiac failure) to completing my 20th Ridge Run slightly faster than the year before. Never under estimate oneself.