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.