Tag Archives: treadmill

Literally a “Mile”stone!

Today was a great day!!  I ran a mile on the treadmill without stopping!!!!!  ONE MILE!!! WOO HOO!!!  Praise God!!!  I had not done that since way before my heart attack.  The most I had run up until today was a 1/2 mile without stopping.

This certainly surprised me today, and I didn’t wake up this morning thinking, “I’ll run a mile today!”  When I got to the gym, I was feeling pretty good (and I had a good run/walk in my neighborhood the day before), so I thought I might try to go 0.6 miles.  But if I was going to do that, why not just round it up to 3/4 of a mile!

Well, I was feeling pretty good during my run, was keeping a steady pace (4.2) and my heart rate was doing ok, so I thought…”if I’m feeling this good, why not go for the gold and what’s another 0.25 miles!?!”  So, I DID IT!!!  I continued running until I had done 1.0 mile!!!!  I maintained the same pace of 4.2 the ENTIRE time, and I felt great!  Wow, this 5K may come sooner than I expected since this 1 mile run came earlier than I expected!

I have to gush that I am so proud of myself.  I was gushing on the treadmill and smiling ear to ear.  I wanted to scream to the world and couldn’t wait to get home to share the news with all of you.  I hope this helps motivate me to continue pressing forward and adding a little more every few weeks.  It makes my goal of completing a 5K by running the entire thing more a reality.  I was beginning to doubt it a few months ago (agreeing with what that dr had said – that I might not be able to do it).  But remember, I’m determined to prove that dr wrong!  🙂

I think I’m about as proud of myself today as I was when I completed my one and only Disney 1/2 marathon in 2007.  Both accomplishments were quite a feat.  Both felt fantastic.  Both gave me a sense of pride.  And both made me want to work harder to take care of myself so I don’t undo all the good that I did.

I hope this inspires at least one person.  And I hope I have another “mile”stone to announce in the near future!

Thanks for reading my post and sharing in my excitement of the day!

Happy running!

I’m Jogging Faster!

It’s funny how you switch up something in your work out so minor but it turns out to make such a huge difference!  Normally, in Cardiac Rehab, I do 10 minutes on the bike and THEN go to the treadmill for 26 minutes of walking and jogging.  My lower legs usually get really fatigued and my 2 minute jogging intervals are difficult.  I find myself “pushing” through them and only being able to maintain the 4.3 speed for about a minute before decreasing down to 4.0 speed for the 2nd minute.

During my last Cardiac Rehab session, the bikes were all full when I started, so I HAD to start on the treadmill.  Of course, there was some trepidation on my part.  Not sure how I would feel doing that before my legs were “warmed up”.  So, I grabbed some water to put in the treadmill’s cup holder (I have to run with water) and began.

THIS TREADMILL SESSION FELT A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!!  I began my 4 minutes of walking at 3.0 speed.  Then increased the speed to run.  My range is between 4.0-4.4, but I’ve never felt good enough to try 4.4 until NOW.  I increased the speed to 4.4, and it felt good.  After a minute, I still felt good…maybe even better!  I did it!  I ran for 2 full minutes at 4.4 speed, and it felt great!  No pain, no fatigue, didn’t feel like I was “pushing” through!  I was glad to get back down to the 3.0 speed to walk and catch my breath.  I completed my next 4 minutes of walking at 3.0 and then accelerated to 4.4 to run again for 2 minutes and did it!  Again!  And it still felt great!  My legs felt so strong, I felt so in shape!  I was able to complete ALL 4 of my 2 minute jogging intervals at the 4.4 speed for the entire time!  What a work out!  And to think I’ve been getting tired and fatigued on the bike, which has probably been holding me back.

After the treadmill, I went to the bike for 10 minutes.  It was hard.  I felt like I was struggling a little, and I was sweating quite a lot!  But I finished.

And now I know that next time, I want to start with the treadmill and save the bike until the end.  It’s funny how a small change like that can make a world of difference.

I could definitely tell a difference later in the day.  My legs felt stronger and tighter, and all around, I felt better (those endorphins!).

It feels great that I was able to increase my speed and maintain it.  Maybe I’ll get to that 5K in well before my 1 year goal!

P.S. I did buy new running shoes.  Didn’t spend a lot of time researching and shopping because I was super tired that day.  I normally rotate through various brands – Nike, Saucony, Adidas, and New Balance.  The pair I bought this round is Saucony.  We’ll see how they work out for now.

I’m Jogging!

I’ve started jogging in cardiac rehab!!!!  It was so exciting to begin!  Of course, my doctor had already given permission for me to start, but I had to work up to it in cardiac rehab to ensure my blood pressure and heart rate were doing ok first.  I am doing 26 minutes on the treadmill there now – 4 minutes @ 3.0 speed; 2 minutes @ 4.0-4.2 speed (jogging); repeat.  I’m glad they only started me with 2 minute jogging intervals.  Since I haven’t been running since February, I was fine with this short amount of time.  I don’t enjoy running on treadmills, and with the heart monitor strapped to me and nurses checking on me every few minutes, it’s a little overwhelming.  I am not experiencing shortness of breath like I thought I might (and like I did during my stress test), but I am definitely experiencing fatigue in my lower legs and heavy breathing towards the end of the 2 minutes.  My running shoes probably aren’t helping because they are an old pair that is uncomfortable.  I’m only wearing them because my other running shoes (5 years old and ready to be replaced) got soaking wet a few weeks ago and now smell incredibly terrible.  Maybe this weekend I will go shopping for running shoes!  That will also help inspire me to run.  It’s like shopping for school supplies every fall (some of you will know what I mean)!

I’ve been running now in cardiac rehab for 3 sessions and I even ran at the gym one night!  On the gym’s treadmill, I walked for 5 minutes at 3.0 speed and ran for 2 minutes at 4.0 speed.  I did this for 30 minutes total.  I felt my pace was better and overall I felt better on this treadmill.  I’m sure because I was in my own element.  The only hard thing was checking my heart rate on the machine.  I have to place my hands over the handles several times to get the reading.  I can’t wait to get my own heart rate watch!!

I haven’t set my goal yet…but I feel it coming on.  I’d like to be able to run a 5K in about a year.  Wouldn’t that be great to prove that one doctor wrong who said I’d probably never run a 5K again!!!

Nuclear Exercise Stress Test and Results

I was very nervous preparing for my first stress test and unsure of what to expect.  Luckily, my facility provided me with a one-sheet of information that eased my mind.

I could not consume any caffeine, decaffeinated beverages, or chocolate for 24 hours prior to my appointment, and I could not have any food or drink (unless water to take medication) 4 hours prior to my appointment.  They were very strict on this.  They also suggested that I wear comfortable clothing and sneakers (or shoes you’d go walking/jogging in) and to plan on being there for up to 4 hours.

A nuclear exercise stress test is used to see how blood flows through the heart during exercise and at rest by using radioactive tracers.  Images are then taken of the heart to show the coronary artery circulation and which parts of the heart are receiving blood (marked by the radioactive tracers).

When I got to the facility, I checked in, made my co-pay, and was immediately called in by the Technologist.  They first took me into a room where I had to sign some forms and was asked a few general questions about my meds.  I made sure that he knew I had a stent.    Then the Tech inserted an IV into my arm (inside elbow) and the radioactive tracer which needs some time to circulate before they can begin taking images.  I was then escorted to a small waiting room and told to relax and drink 3 cups of water from the water cooler.  I probably waited about 15-20 mins and made conversation with a nice man in his 80s who must have been there for a similar test.  He told me how he used to be in the military, worked as an engineer, retired from NASA, and his grand daughter was going to Auburn University (the conversation began because I was wearing an Auburn shirt).  It helped the time go by quickly because the TV channel was boring.

The Technologist came in to get me and took me into the imaging room where I had to lie down on a narrow table with my arms above my head.  To the left of my chest was a large scanner that rotated over my chest so the Tech could position it accurately.  Once it was in the right position, he told me to hold still and breathe normal and that the scanner would take about 15 mins to take its images.  The computer monitor was in my line of sight, but it didn’t really show me anything that I could comprehend.  My arms got a little tingly from being over my head for so long, but I stayed as still as I could so they could get good images.  When the machine was done, the scanner rested to the left of my chest, and the Tech escorted me to the room with the treadmill.

There, I met a nurse (or maybe she was also a technologist) who began hooking me up to a 12-lead EKG whose pack was strapped to my stomach and had a long cord connected to the computer.  I was able to lie down on the bed to connect everything.  She had to enter lots of info into the computer and verified info with me and was also pleasantly conversational.  The room had lots of windows, so I had a great view of downtown while I was in there.  Finally, the first Tech came back in along with a doctor, and they helped me with my cords (so I didn’t trip) onto the treadmill.  It didn’t look like a normal treadmill.  It was basically a belt and bars.  No buttons or displays, which I thought was odd, but helped me focus.  They determined that they needed to get my heart rate to 153 to get the images they needed.  I let the nurse know that I had not gotten over 137 in cardiac rehab.  They turned on the treadmill, and let me start walking.  The EKG monitor was right next to me, so I could easily see my heart rate and the timer.  I told them that in cardiac rehab I normally walk for 15 mins at 3.0 and 3%.  They began this treadmill walk at about 1.6/1.7 and 10% (the max).  They needed to quickly get my heart rate up to its max.  I could completely tell a difference between this treadmill and cardiac rehab.  Within 1 or 2 mins, I could already tell I was getting winded.  They kept me talking the entire time (not sure if that was on purpose or if we were all just chatty), but I started to get out of breath pretty fast.  I told them that this was EXACTLY what I had been explaining to my doctor about how I feel when trying to walk up stairs or briskly walking through a parking lot, but I had never experienced this in cardiac rehab.  When I started to get really winded, the doctor asked the nurse to administer the second radioactive tracer so they could get it in there before they needed to stop me.  I had to continue on for about 2 or 3 more mins (I think).  I was hot and very winded and my heart rate was only 147.  Finally, the doctor told them to stop the test as he didn’t want me to overwork or push my heart too much and he got what he needed for the images without going up to 153.

Wow!  What a workout!!  I sat back down on the bed and the nurse took the leads off of me.  She then brought me a juice box (all natural, no added sugar) and a pack of peanut butter crackers, and had me wait back in the small waiting room for about 15 mins.  It was so great to finally eat and drink something!

The Tech came back in to get me to take me back to the imaging room where I got back onto the narrow table and let the scanner take pictures of my heart.  This lasted for about 15 mins again.  Then the IV line was taken out, I got a bandaid, and was released to go home.

So, the stress test was not as bad as I thought it would be.  I was afraid I would be running for a long time and not able to keep up.  But now, I feel like I want to conquer a treadmill at 10% incline!  But I’m sure my doctor won’t approve of that anytime soon.

The doctor overseeing the test said he would read the results the next morning and call me (even though it would be a Saturday).  He never did.  I went by his office after cardiac rehab that Monday to get my results.  A nurse called him on the phone and let me speak to him.  He said he was surprised at my results and had mostly good news for me.  The scar tissue is at the apex of my heart and estimated to be about 20% (originally estimated at 50%). My ejection fraction was a couple percentage points better than my echo, but that doesn’t mean it had improved in 2 weeks, it’s just that this is a different test measuring that. They are not sure how much of the 20% is permanent damage.  It will take 6 months to a year to better determine that. But I am still cleared to continue working out and to start jogging.  I will probably continue to have shortness of breath for a while (or even the rest of my life), but it could get better as I continue to work out and my body finds ways to compensate for the damage to my heart. This encourages me to want to work so much harder.  It is really disappointing when you’re told that you may never be the same again and may be limited in activities and quality of life.

Cardiac Rehab.

I finally began Cardiac Rehab, which will help me determine my limitations.  The past few times I’ve gone walking in my neighborhood, I’ve had some pain in my chest and back when breathing.  Cardiac Rehab will allow my heart to get stronger and will hopefully increase my stamina.  I will start off with 18 sessions, and then they will reassess to see if I need an additional 18.  My insurance covers it, but my copay is $40 per session, which is way more than I can really afford, but it’s something I have to do.  I can do 2 or 3 1-hour sessions per week, so I’ve agreed to start out with 3, and then I’ll drop down to 2 per week for financial reasons.

My first session was over 2 hours long because the nurse wanted to go over my file with me, discuss my prescriptions, and review my cholesterol numbers.  Then, I got to try out some of the machines.  I wear a heart monitor and there are nurses and exercise physiologists in the room that monitor your heart rate and check your blood pressure.  I started out walking on the treadmill for 5 minutes at a pace of about 2.1.  I had no problems!  Then, I tried 5 minutes on an elliptical-type machine where you are sitting down.  Finally, I tried 5 minutes on a stationery bike.  Even though everything was done at a slow pace, I still worked up a sweat.  It really is a great feeling to know that if something happens, I’m surrounded by a team of medical professionals.

During my second session, they increased my time on the 3 machines to 7 minutes and increased the pace.  I had no pain and worked up more of a sweat.  My heart rate and blood pressure exactly what they should be for someone my age.  In fact, I even went back on the treadmill a 2nd time for 6 more minutes and felt fine.

My goals from Cardiac Rehab are to ensure my heart heals, build up my stamina, and eventually get to the point where I’m healthy to run again.  Years ago, I was a runner and would run 3-5 miles a day.  I competed in 5Ks, 10Ks, and even completed a half marathon.  I believe that running for so many years is the reason that my heart bounced back so quickly after the heart attack.  The doctors are still amazed that my heart went from 15% EF to 40-44% EF in a matter of a few days.  I attribute this to running for so many years.