Heart troubles and XC skiing?

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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby JeffOYB » Wed Feb 19, 2014 7:33 am

One big thing that brought it to my attention was that 2 of my training/racing pals got hit by this arrhythmia in their 50's as they stepped up their skiing to best-ever results. Both had been top-15 finishers then stepped up their game and training after age 55 (ballpark). They started getting top 3 overall results or better. Then a year or so later, wham. Now this is only an anecdotal sized data pool of 2, but there we were, all pushing hard together and they take a big new step up and *wham*. They're both adjusting and still racing but back in the 20's-40's positions. Maybe the step up was a relevant change in this equation.

I've enjoyed frequently going "all out" since age 17, now age 52 -- it's been fun all along.

I've had joints disagree with prolonged effort but my heart doesn't seem to mind.

It does make one wonder, tho!

(I also have a friend who jogged in younger years then started massively racing when he retired at age 65 and was a monster Ironman and trail-runner at age 70. He stepped it up HUGELY. No heart or joint troubles at all. Still hikes a ton.)
Last edited by JeffOYB on Wed Feb 19, 2014 12:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby hegel » Wed Feb 19, 2014 11:44 am

"One big thing that brought it to my attention was that 2 of my training/racing pals got hit by this arrhythmia in their 50's as they stepped up their skiing to best-ever results."

Well there ya go. Yes, it's anecdotal but still. Did your pals elect to scale back or were they forced to scale back? Personally, I 'could' still ski as hard as I ever did, but I've elected to step back. Afib is scary enough that you do what you need to avoid it if possible.

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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby JeffOYB » Mon Mar 31, 2014 11:56 am

New April 2014 issue of "Silent Sports" mag has news report titled "Heart arrhythmia link to endurance activity." Based on article by Mike Ivey Capital Times Madison WI. ...Says it relates to both arms and legs being used by XC skiers. Maybe also a stress factor from competitive types -- Type A? Maybe also "decades of hours-long high heart-rate exercise."

Couldn't find SS link but here's the Mad news link:

http://host.madison.com/news/local/writ ... f887a.html

Apparently it's a hot topic: "Martin claims he’s been “ostracized” by the fitness industry for posting stories about the link between a lifetime of aerobic exercise and irregular heart function."

Says the article has gotten a LOT of attention.

***

On a related topic, Mark of Mark's Daily Apple, is a Primal Diet and Exercise guy. He says evolution isn't cool with going over 2 hours at 80%. He says evolution is about sprints or long trot -- not long+hard. Caveman wasn't into intervals. He says intervals and also hours of med-hi exercise release a TON of cortisols into blood which are very corrosive. It's not the lactate, it's the cortisol. Digesting sugar/carbs also releases cortisol and insulin. He says long SLOW exercise burns fat which is totally evolutionary and good for you. He's anti-carbs.
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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby Raubie » Wed Apr 02, 2014 11:44 pm

I glad you started this post Hegel.

JeffOYB wrote:...
Apparently it's a hot topic: "Martin claims he’s been “ostracized” by the fitness industry for posting stories about the link between a lifetime of aerobic exercise and irregular heart function."

Says the article has gotten a LOT of attention.

Ironic, isn't it, coming from the "fitness" industry. Instead of nuance and deliberation, it's 'shoot the messenger."


Mike Muha of Nordic Ski Racer suffered AF a couple years ago, and he blogged about it. What's quite interesting is surgical steps taken in his case to try to correct it. Worthy reading...

http://www.nordicskiracer.com/news.asp?NewsID=5801
http://www.nordicskiracer.com/news.asp?NewsID=5805
http://www.nordicskiracer.com/news.asp?NewsID=5930
http://www.nordicskiracer.com/news.asp?NewsID=5934
http://www.nordicskiracer.com/news.asp?NewsID=6061

http://www.nordicskiracer.com/news.asp?NewsID=5703

Marit Bjørgen too!
http://fasterskier.com/article/lifelong ... rhythmias/
http://fasterskier.com/article/bjorgen- ... e-in-tour/


I know correlation≠causation, but it just seems to be happening to too many nordic racers over the age of 40 not to be a cause of Afib. Scary.

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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby JeffOYB » Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:11 am

If we let common sense and moderation be our guides... Isn't it kind of obvious that there's too much of a good thing? Also that people tend to get carried away with things that they like in ways that end up harming them? These are very common. How do they apply to XC? Hard as we may take it, it probably isn't healthy in every single sense. If it's not the heart it would be something else. Moderation, etc.

It seems like they're fumbling for causation: "hours of intense training over decades using all 4 limbs to the max" -- "stress from competitiveness." These are wide-ranging guesses. But they do have a slight overlap.

I wonder what might be a general view of "too much"?

...Four marathons each winter going for age-group podiums?

If I considered "pure health" with improvement against various risks I'd probably end up with daily exercise covering all the bases with brief or moderate red-lining in various ways once or twice a week.

In light of this I mentioned earlier the Mark Sisson notion of Primal Health, evolution, and cortisol: Intervals and 2+ hr sessions at 80%+ aren't natural. Long-slow, sprints, and burst exertion are all natural. I note that some enduro bikers have picked up on his notions as a moderating concept to what they'd been doing. ...All the more so for XC skiers? ...I've heard no mention of it from anyone in the XC Ski scene, but is there even an XC Ski scene? Bike-culture seems like much more of a "yeasty foment" where a wide range of ideas are steadily bandied. We might do well to poach from it. (http://marksdailyapple.com)
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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby JeffOYB » Wed Apr 09, 2014 8:25 am

Upshot: I'm guessing to a big extent we're each a "study of one" and "know thyself" -- listen to how it's going and heed your hunches -- is the key.

So "it all depends."

And "if it hurts, stop."

My own tendency is to shortcuts, to jumping up too far too soon.

For the one Nat'ls I went to I was tagging along with some NCAA folks and being a helpful person on the road so I got included in on a months-long training and lactate/etc blood study by Dr. Jim S-G. He sent me the summary afterward. I was on par with the hotshots in speedwork and intervals but not BASE. They had six times the base I had! Ha, to me, that's asking for injury, poor health -- and when adopting a similar pattern as an Old Fart: heart attack, joint/nerve injury. If you wanna go "all in" on something, you better have the base. No shortcuts.
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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby Biffbradford » Fri May 02, 2014 12:18 pm

I agree that you have to moderate your intensity as you age. You DO realize that you still age even though you ski, bike, whatever? You still will not live forever, so stop pushing yourself like you did when you were 25. The key is to age GRACEFULLY. This whole masters racing scene has gotten out of hand IMO. Sell those carbon fiber poles and buy some wooden skis and a wine skin. ;)
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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby Montana » Fri May 02, 2014 4:45 pm

Biffbradford wrote:I agree that you have to moderate your intensity as you age. You DO realize that you still age even though you ski, bike, whatever? You still will not live forever, so stop pushing yourself like you did when you were 25. The key is to age GRACEFULLY. This whole masters racing scene has gotten out of hand IMO. Sell those carbon fiber poles and buy some wooden skis and a wine skin. ;)

Maybe they should have wine at the Birkie Feed stops for the old duffers like myself? And they could let us start before the first wave so we would have more time to drink along the way! :drinkers:
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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby hegel » Tue Sep 09, 2014 11:39 am

People may find it interesting to use a heart rate monitor while skiing. Of course, it's a good idea to know your resting heart rate and have a sense of what your 80% upper threshold should be. All of this is easy to determine. I ski at altitude but live at sea level; this makes things worse for me. I've worn a heart rate monitor for years at the gym, trying to get my rate up (not any more). I was really surprised at how high my heart rate is while nordic skiing, especially skating. I think that a hrm is a good informational tool, at least.

I've had no episodes of atrial fibrillation for a while; I've also been keeping my heart rate within more modest parameters while exercising. I'm hoping that there's a correlation. As I mentioned, my first afib episode occurred after three days of pretty hard skiing. (I wasn't using a hrm at that time). I felt great and was really hitting the course pretty fast over several hours each day. I think that it may have just been too much.

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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby JeffOYB » Wed Oct 15, 2014 6:33 am

When we go real hard and 'get in the zone' and 'flow', what are we really doing? It kinda seems like maybe we're losing ourselves, immersing, focusing everything on one thing. Speed and responding optimally become everything -- "me" and everything else about me kinda fade out.

I have zero complaint about going as hard as I can. The pain cave doesn't seem like a bad place, to me. I like the flow and the instantaneousness of action during an event.

But, dang, it might not be such a smart idea.

I also like longer-term events a whole lot. Like skiing all day long at half-pace to accomplish an expedition goal. That's a gas. I really like planning out the meals and gear and problem-solving as need be along the way. Thinking ahead to route decisions.

But if more Just Plain Fun Events were to be presented with some energy behind them, maybe they could catch on, and become popular. I could see becoming just as interested in them. Multi-faceted outdoor action. Maybe I'd do some intensity work on the side, more privately, to keep the bio-capacity side capable. I could see saving my time for doing stuff with people as purely sociable time. Casual attire, doing a wider variety of things (stopping to rustle up a campfire and do some cooking, say), low key, comparing notes, showing each other different skills, helping out those who have skill questions.

It might be that racing really isn't very social. Obviously. Lots of people together, quiet, all pointing away from each other. Trying to GET AWAY FROM EACH OTHER.

Nor is racing healthy, to put it bluntly -- so many injuries coming from pushing our limits. Hearts are the scary injury, but little ones pile up and keep nagging even when we're young. Illness, too. Colds. If health was the goal we might approach it differently.

They say golf is a good way to spoil a walk. Racing might be kinda the same.

A race seems cool to do now'n'then while leaving most social outings as just that. Like maybe a race or two per season as a test.

...The problem is that there are no organized social ski outings around here, or in Michigan that I've heard of. (The Women's Ski Tour has been the only exception. I always felt bad for the dudes, tho. But they were blamed for the harshness of the scene and kept away.)

I'm sure that friends get together often everywhere. And clubs have outings -- ha, training sessions, anyway. People are short on time. Meet in the parking lot. Execute the day's plan. Chat a bit. Take off.

A few of us here in SE MI have been trying to create and promote Fun Ski Events and will keep doing so as best we can.
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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby SpecialGreen » Wed Oct 15, 2014 11:25 pm

Here in the Twin Cities, there are some good social groups like North Star Ski Touring Association, Ride'n'Glide, and the newer Loppet Foundation (our kids are big fans of the waffle-loppet, mid-winter bonfire-ski, etc.); there's the weekly parent/child team sprints; also coaching 6-yr olds in Minnesota Youth Ski League is pretty hard to beat. Yes, they throw up on your skis now and then, but who cares?

That's a little off-topic. I used to watch my pulse, wondering if was getting too high. I've pretty-much given up on that: yes, it's too high. But this summer, I've only been watching pulse to time intervals (make sure I get enough break between intervals). No arrythmia yet (knock on foam-core).

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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby JeffOYB » Thu Oct 16, 2014 8:10 am

I've seen 190 recently as a max. At 53 yrs old I can still run 180 steadily without going under and my hour-event ave is 175 when I'm feelin' good. A few yrs ago it was 180 so it's come down a bit. Actually, I did a CX race last yr w/ 180 ave but that felt like work. Offhand, that all kinda seems too high -- spending so much time so high up there -- but it just doesn't bother me, it's pleasant, the thrill of the chase, so I keep doing it. But it does make me wonder...
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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby SpecialGreen » Thu Oct 16, 2014 10:33 pm

I'm in the same age group and ballpark: I hang around 176-180 bpm for the flat parts of a 50k. Mid/high 180s doing DP/KDP usually means "you think you feel good now, but in 5 minutes...". Doing 2-minute intervals gets it to 190. Max recorded in a race last year was around 196, I think.

I quit telling coaches what my pulse was a couple of years ago. I think there's just too much variation between people for those numbers to mean much of anything, out of context. I mostly follow perceived effort, and make sure I can sing loudly when I'm supposed to be doing a L1. And doing intervals, I do wait until pulse is below 90 before starting the next interval. If I short-change the recovery time, it will cut-short my workout for sure.
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2014COLL-Mora-pulse.png
Lower pulse in the hills during COLL; more time spent at 176-180bpm during Mora. Exceeded 180 for a while on lakes at COLL and got burned.
2014COLL-Mora-pulse.png (77.17 KiB) Viewed 3283 times

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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby JeffOYB » Sat Oct 18, 2014 8:02 am

SpecialGreen wrote:I'm in the same age group and ballpark: I hang around 176-180 bpm for the flat parts of a 50k. Mid/high 180s doing DP/KDP usually means "you think you feel good now, but in 5 minutes...". Doing 2-minute intervals gets it to 190. Max recorded in a race last year was around 196, I think.

I quit telling coaches what my pulse was a couple of years ago. I think there's just too much variation between people for those numbers to mean much of anything, out of context. I mostly follow perceived effort, and make sure I can sing loudly when I'm supposed to be doing a L1. And doing intervals, I do wait until pulse is below 90 before starting the next interval. If I short-change the recovery time, it will cut-short my workout for sure.


The lower Mora one looks like it has the higher average. The upper COLL one only gets too high near the end -- but that race hurt more? Funny that you burned yourself on a lake rather than in the hills.

Yeah, I guess we have to go by perceived effort. I worry, tho, that I just don't mind pain -- seems like risk for overdoing it.

Interesting that one of my only two good marathons was spent going halfpace -- and giving much faster overall time than usual. I do appreciate a new long-day ski pal who really insists on "diesel mode" where we go less than halfpace. I champ against that but we have great 9-hr outings with no impairment and still end up plenty worked.
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Re: Heart troubles and XC skiing?

Postby hegel » Thu Oct 23, 2014 3:09 pm

a heart rate monitor keeps you honest. there are days when I go out skiing, or for a swim, etc. and just feel poor, but my hrm tells me that everything's copacetic. and the reverse. Psychology is tricky; your heart rate is honest.

but I don't like being attached to the thing in other ways.

Saying that you feel great when pushing hard over years may--MAY--be missing the point of all the studies. all of the athletes who developed afib felt great, right up until the moment that they didn't. That's one of the lessons.

I'm not a racer so it's easy for me to dial back. I was dialing up right until my first episode, and loving it. I hated dialing back; now, I don't mind: I've changed my approach and started to do new things with skis.


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