Further improvements

Last May I published a post bemoaning the fact that I had not returned to full fitness; I wasn’t sure whether it was my relative lack of exercise or slight excess weight that was the cause or just that I was not completely back to normal.  Although I was incredibly happy with my condition compared to what I expected on diagnosis, there was the niggling worry that my recovery had hit a plateau. 

My resting HR, which had been falling steadily since the ablation, had still not returned to “normal”; it was 70 instead of 57.  My bike rides were 2mph slower than they used to be and my hill climbing was quite poor; although a small part of this may have been related to restricting my HR to 165 rather than 185.  I was also experiencing regular runs of ectopics.  As it was then nearly three years post ablation, I was not expecting to see any further recovery.

Over the last year, I have continued to improve my cycling capability.  I am still self-limited to a HR of 165 but my average speeds are a little higher, perhaps only 0.75mph down on a few years ago.  My recovery from exercise seems good and my Garmin watch says my VO2 max is “excellent” at 47, although I did not have this facility until recently so I can’t compare this with previous data.

My monthly level of ectopics is also down at a post-ablation low: 0.6 per minute this year as opposed to 1.7 in 2019 and 1.4 in 2018.  I believe I was completely free from ectopics prior to AF, but can’t be sure of this; my pre-AF pulse seemed rock solid, but in hindsight, I may have subconsciously disregarded any pauses.

Recently, due to the coronavirus lockdown, I have stopped my rides on flat trails as they are too crowded.  I have resumed cycling on roads, which is normally slightly faster in spite of the hills.  My lower max HR does not seem to really be a limiting factor and I am now wondering whether the ease at which my HR elevated in my youth was possibly a sign of lack of health.  In the eighties, I was very proud of my RHR of 42 and max HR of 190, which were both much more extreme than others in the gym I went to.  In retrospect, this was very unhealthy and I think the primary cause of my HF.  Below is my May training log from Strava.

4 thoughts on “Further improvements

  1. Hi Nora. I didn’t think there was a problem in the eighties, I actually thought I was at the peak of fitness; it is only in hindsight that I realise I was pushing too hard. My mother was also an athlete and was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat when she was in her late 20s. She was told not to worry about it. Fifty years later she was diagnosed with AF after routine tests. She died a few years ago after a series of mini-strokes left her with vascular dementia and difficulty in walking. Her fitness as a youngster was probably greater than mine, so I suspect that was the cause of AF in both of us.

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    • Thank you John. I’m so sorry about your mother. I’m thinking my a fib also may be due to overdoing things in my 30s and 40s. I ran 50+ miles weekly, worked out at the gym three days a week, swam, and ran marathons. My A fib probably started in my 30s. But I never went in to have it checked out. My mother was diagnosed with a fib in her late 70s. She died from a ruptured papillary muscle which caused severe heart failure.

      I am on beta blockers and have not opted for an ablation.

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