SVT – supraventricular tachycardia

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If you are over 40 and train alot for any sport, you need to know what SVT is. 


Short Version: SVT is when your heart rate is stuck at a really high level. You can bring it back down by coughing, “bearing down” like you are pooping, or cold water on the face. It isn’t necessarily directly life-threatening but it will scare you (and your loved ones) a bit.

Long Version:

So there I was at the local pool, starting a fourth set of 200’s back at the end of April 2017. As I pushed off, my heart went absolutely NUTS…like 200b beats per minute nuts..for the first time ever in my life. And immediately, it felt like every bit of strength left my body. I simply couldn’t pull the water. I went back to the wall and decided to skip that 200 and do the next one on the same timing, so basically a three minute break. My heart rate came down a bit to probably 180-184, which is what I have until that point thought was my max heart rate. At the three minute mark, I pushed off and did another 200 at a very moderate effort. Then I quit for the day, not knowing exactly what happened.

Back at work, my heart rate was still stuck at 180 an hour later. I was a bit light-headed and really concerned that my heart hadn’t cut back to at least in the 80’s. A nurse friend looked at me and decided that yes I probably need to see a doctor. So I decided to go to urgent care.

We got in the car and headed out, and I called my wife, who we decided would take me in. On there way to urgent care, we talked to the nurse there who told us to go directly to emergency room.

Three hours now at heart rate of 180!

Thirty minutes later I am getting the medicine that brings my heart back to normal. Whoo! I was getting tired at that point. 

Lessons Learned – Torn Calf Muscle

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I am two weeks into healing a torn calf muscle. This my first real injury in probably ten years or more, and here are a few lessons I have learned.

1. BioFreeze and Do Terra Deep Blue are an awesome combination.

2. You can still do flutter kicks with a torn calf muscle. Maybe my tear wasn’t so bad (it never really bruised), but I could get a great workout of 30 minutes of kicks. My first week with a torn calf muscle was a swim focus with two swims per day, and it worked out really well. I had to remember to push off the wall with only one leg, but it was still great training. I turned a possible lost week of training to an awesome swim week that included a personal record swim distance set of 4,000 yards.

3. I am deeply grateful for my health and ability to run, and that my boys can and WANT to do it.

4.  I am learning patience as I have another week before I will try to run. We are in the midst of beautiful spring days, and I look at my running trails with a new-found longing to power up the hills.

Thankfully, this will be a relatively short recovery period with no permanent issues.

I tore my calf muscle…now what?

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Last week, I had the perfect day for my first backcountry ski adventure in four days. I saw it line-up beautifully: home alone while family on trip, legs recovered, great weather, and plenty of snow on a late March day. I loaded up my gear and headed out.

For someone looking for what to do about a torn calf muscle, here is the best link I found for information on torn calf muscle and how to treat. Others interested in reading a story and the road to recovery, keep reading.

calf muscle tearphoto from physioworks

My first run was awesome. Such sweet turns on a mountainside of fresh snow. Popping in and out of the trees. Linking my turns and hitting a few high-speed spots. A couple of months on the lift-served side while kids went to lessons had really improved my skiing.

If you don’t know, backcountry skiing provides a great triathlon cross-training opportunity because you have to hike back up the hill. You don’t get a ride up the lift. For a dad with two young boys, it is also much cheaper than buying a lift ticket!

My second run started great, too. I decided to hit an area that is more open and a bit steeper than the previous run. The snow here had a some soft spots that my tips dug into but I recovered nicely…until I didn’t.  At a point that the pitch steepened, my ski tip dug, and I endo’d, breaking out of my bindings straight-forward and tumbling down the hill. I gathered myself and brushed off the snow. Quick check: neck? good. arms? good. knees? good. Legs? good. Wait…calf muscle has significant pain. Better get moving back up the hill RIGHT NOW! because I have to hike out of here and ski back down the lift-side with what feels like a very bad torn calf muscle.

I got up the hill ok but with some pain. Skiing down was a different story for the top half of the hill, as it was icy and I couldn’t turn well. Further down, I had more room and didn’t have to turn so it was easier. Sitting in my car for the 30 minute drive home, my leg as SCREAMING at me.  I wanted to cry from the pain but was too happy that my knees were intact and I got out of that mess by myself.

At home and with my leg RICE’d as much as possible and self-medicating the pain of a possibly ruined summer, I began my research. Of the many websites I checked, Pysioworks  was the best for me.

I figured I had a Grade 2 tear, based on the description, but I had no bruising (yet).  The Physioworks site has a great treatment plan listed, and I started that immediately:

How to Treat a Calf Muscle Tear

Calf muscle tears are one of the most common problems that we see at PhysioWorks and it is unfortunately an injury that often recurs if you return to sport too quickly – especially if a thorough rehabilitation program is not completed.

Researchers have concluded that there are essentially 6 stages that need to be covered to effectively rehabilitate these injuries and prevent recurrence – these are:

Phase 1 – Early Injury Protection: Pain Reduction & Anti-inflammatory Phase

As with most soft tissue injuries the initial treatment is RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

Your calf muscle is a large powerful group of muscles that can produce sufficient force to run, jump and hop. In the early phase you’ll be unable to walk without a limp, so your calf needs some rest from weight-bearing loads. You may need to be non or partial-weight-bearing, when crutches or a wedged achilles walking boot may be the best treatment.

Ice is a simple and effective modality to reduce your pain and swelling. Please apply for 20-30 minutes each 2 to 4 hours during the initial phase or when you notice that your injury is warm or hot.

Anti-inflammatory medication (if tolerated) and natural substances eg arnica may help reduce your pain and swelling. However, it is best to avoid anti-inflammatory drugs during the initial 48 to 72 hours when they may encourage additional bleeding. Most people can tolerate paracetamol as a pain reducing medication.

As you improve a compressive bandage, supportive taping or an elastic calf support will help to both support the injured soft tissue and keep the blood from pooling in your foot.

Keep your foot elevated above your heart (where possible) to allow for gravity to help drain your calf and lower leg swelling.

I stayed off my foot and kept it raised as much as possible the rest of the day and Sunday. I went to work and hobbled around as little as possible on Monday (I have a desk job). I was liberal with Biofreeze the entire time. I really LOVE THAT STUFF!  As I wondered how my “it’s going to be the best ever” season was going to pan out, I remained happy that my knees are healthy and tried to figure out how to get healthy in a way that would keep me there. God was teaching me patience..AGAIN.

On Tuesday, I went swimming to see how that would feel. It was good. Not great. But good. I could certainly do pulls and some light kicks.  I could still turn and push with my good leg. Looks like a swim-focus week!

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were big swim days. Kicks and pulls mostly, until Friday when I decided to hit a final personal-best-ever distance of 4,000 yards. I accomplished that, so I turned this disaster in a personal best.

So, the swim kicks are really helping me recover without pushing it too far. Saturday morning, there are the first visible signs of real damage with some discoloration of skin in my leg. I can’t say they are “real” bruises but I suppose they meet the definition . Also, I am walking ok but can’t put a lot of pressure on a calf – raise exercise.


Phase 2: Regain Full Range of Motion

If you protect your injured calf appropriately the torn muscle will successfully reattach. Mature scar formation takes at least six weeks. During this time period you should be aiming to optimally remould your scar tissue to prevent a scar that will re-tear in the future.

It is important to lengthen and orientate your healing scar tissue via massage, muscle stretches and neurodynamic mobilisations. Signs that your have full soft tissue extensibility includes being able to walk without a limp and able to perform calf stretches with a similar end of range stretch feeling.

Phase 3: Restore Concentric Muscle Strength

Calf strength and power should be gradually progressed from non-weight bear to partial and then full weight bear and resistance loaded exercises. You may also require strengthening for other leg, gluteal and lower core muscles depending on your assessment findings.

I am in Phase 3 now, and I can walk with only a minor limp. I hope to try a bike workout on Sunday morning, but I will NOT push it into a pain. I am following the “let heal all the way” principle before I try to restore strength. The swim-focus week proved that I can maintain some fitness during this injury (the multiple exercise option is what I love about triathlon!), so I’m not worried about losing too much fitness. I am a bit depressed because the weather is awesome right now, and I could be skiing again today with 55 degrees and sunny and very little wind — PERFECT! — but I will be at the park with the boys, which is probably better for me overall anyway!

I certainly won’t be running until two weeks from now. I’ve had a slight calf strain previously, and that was “nag-nag-nag” all year long until I finally just stayed off it for three weeks.

A week later, I have a slight discoloration but not a dark bruise. As much as this hurt, it was probably only a solid grade 1 tear, maybe a light Grade 2. What would a Grade 3 feel like?!?!?! Again, I’m just happy I have my knees and was able to get off the mountain by myself.

Below are the rest of the steps from physioworks. I figure I have until mid-May to be at 100% on this.

Phase 4: Restore Eccentric Muscle Strength

Calf muscles work in two directions. They push you up (concentric) and control you down (eccentric). Most calf muscle tears occur during the controlled lengthening phase. Your physiotherapist will guide you on an eccentric calf strengthening program when your injury healing allows.

Phase 5: Restore High Speed, Power, Proprioception & Agility

Most calf injuries occur during high speed activities, which place enormous forces on your body (contractile and non-contractile). In order to prevent a recurrence as you return to sport, your physiotherapist will guide you with exercises to address these important components of rehabilitation to both prevent a recurrence and improve your sporting performance.

Depending on what your sport or lifestyle entails, a speed, agility, proprioception and power program will be customised to prepares you for light sport-specific training.

Phase 6: Return to Sport

Depending on the demands of your chosen sport, you will require specific sport-specific exercises and a progressed training regime to enable a safe and injury-free return to your chosen sport.

Your PhysioWorks physiotherapist will discuss your goals, time frames and training schedules with you to optimise you for a complete return to sport. The perfect outcome will have you performing at full speed, power, agility and function with the added knowledge that a through rehabilitation program has minimised your chance of future injury.


Spring Break update

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Spring Break week is always a transition week for my annual training plan. It is the time when I put together various weeks of single-sport or two-sport focus weeks and roll into “all-three” training.

For instance, I completed the Tour of Sufferlandria 2016 in January, had some cross-country focus weekends, got sick for a week, had a couple of big swim weeks, was sick for a week but it trashed two weeks of training, and then a run-focus week to ramp up the run while I was travelling and away from my bike.

Yesterday, I was finally able to hit the backcountry side of Pebble Creek Ski Area. (check out the Snowtrooper Review).  Honestly, a day backcountry skiing counts  minute-for-minute for running; hiking uphill is a great workout. This was my first backcountry ski in about four years.  It was beautiful on the first run! Such sweet turns in a few inches of fresh. Saw an old friend, actually the guy who inspired me by his Strava posts to finally visit the backcountry again. The second run, I crashed hard, and tore my left calf as I tore out of my bindings. OUCH! I can barely walk today. First injury in probably 12 years. Last injury was a nasty pulled hamstring that was not exercise related.



My leg hasn’t bruised yet, and I’m hoping that it won’t because that then (theoretically) means it is a minor tear. But the pain is not minor, I assure you!  But at this point, I am looking at no real running until the end of May probably, full eight weeks away. I hope to be biking by next week, leaving a whole week off the bike. This week will be all swim with no wall-pushes….that’s the plan anyway.  Then, build to the bike and eventually run again after a COMPLETE healing opportunity.

The impact of this injury should be minimal. I wasn’t planning any big races this year. I am just going for some local challenges, another Yellowstone challenge, and a new Teton challenge.

Even though it hurts immensely, I’m staying positive because it could have easily been a ripped up knee.


Cycling to extremes – VeloNews.com

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Of course, everything in moderation, but there is definitely something to think about here as we keep pushing ourselves into old (er) age.

“Fairly quickly I learned I’m in deep shit here. Basically, I figured I was done, this was it,” he said. “It’s interesting; at the time, my emotions were… I was frustrated. It was not on my list of things to do because I was kind of a type-A. My dog was in my truck, we were going to go out and do a ski when I was done, I had work to do that afternoon, phone calls. It just wasn’t on my list of things to do, to die on the ski trails. I was pissed [laughs].

There is something in this article for every triathlete over 40, and probably for the younger folks, too, who train with us old guys.

Some great case-studies and just enough science to keep it interesting.

Have you ever felt that flutter in your chest? Ever thought, “That’s odd. What was that?”

Maybe you dismissed it. I couldn’t possibly have something wrong with my heart — I’m an athlete. I’m fit. I’m invincible. You wouldn’t be the first, or last, to disregard that subtle blip on the radar screen. Chances are it’s nothing, after all.

But how much is too much? Where is that line? If you have a heart rhythm problem, then perhaps you’ve already crossed that line. Is there any turning back?

“Everyone asks where that line is, and how much is too much,” Mandrola said. “It will never be a yes or no thing. It will always be this gray zone. But one of my takes on the evidence is if you have a heart rhythm problem, then perhaps you are over that line for you. Still, number one: Exercise is good. The endurance athlete who gets this stuff is often over-cooked or over-done.”

For Zinn and Endicott, two of thousands who may have ridden and run their way to a contracted lifestyle, the lesson is clear.

“Few people sharing our mentality will make much of a change based on reading an article like this,” Zinn said. “But if the takeaway is that they can keep doing the things they do but with a much higher prioritization of rest, that stands the most chance of actually saving some people from veering off down the path of becoming a cardiac patient.”

Product Review: BioFreeze

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BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front): BioFreeze works great for quick healing of a strained hamstring.

I pride myself on not using any types of drugs or other stuff to heal my body. I think that if my body is telling me it hurts that it is indeed hurt. I average about four pills of any sort per year, mostly single buprofen-doses after I have truly overworked my body.

But I really stressed my hamstring once last year and had some biofreeze sample packets available. After applying this stuff once each day for three days and simply not running (I still biked and swam), I was ready to run again. Another three days of application andni was back to 100%. Previously, without using BioFreeze, this same injury would require two full weeks of no running and a week of easing back into full running.

I now use this every time I stress a muscle, and I am back to full speed within a week. Not only is the physical recovery really nice, I dont stress about losing too much time training. In fact, using BioFreeze has helped me turn the mental tides of an injury into positive opportunity to focus on other sports for a few days.

If you are looking for some muscle applicant and nothing else seems to work, give the BioFreeze a try….I think you will like it!

runner unleashed

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Here is a great story for inspiration. I love reading about the people who defy doctors’ beliefs.


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