Friday, June 4, 2010

Getting Into It with My Doc About Running Heartrate

So I ran the last 3 straight days(4 mi, 2.2 mi, 2.65 mi), and I'm feeling pretty good.  I was doing a 1 minute walk break every 5 minutes of running and keeping my pace "reasonable" (a subjective term), since the concern for pregnant women is keeping your heart rate at 140 bpm or below.  Of course, this is a completely generic rounded-off number doctors advise their patients of. 

I've been concerned because a few years ago I used to routinely train with a heart rate monitor.  I knew at that time that I had a higher resting heart rate and, given my more high-strung personality in nice words, even talk of the BP oil spill can send my heart rate ricocheting up to 125.  At that time when I used to track heart rate, my normal slow long run would be about 150-155 bpm and speedwork at about 180 bpm. 

I see the obgyn today for my normal pre-natal check-up.  Most of our visit ends up revolving around running.  She's concerned and sticking to her guns about 140.  I'm explaining everything above and my concern that this "140 rule" will completely couch me when maybe I am still okay to run.  She just really wants to make sure that my heart isn't overtaxed pumping all that extra blood volume you create during pregnancy and that enough blood will get to my uterus and to the baby.  I try to counter that world-renown athlete Paula Radliffe is more pregnant than me and running two-a-days of 7 miles each! My doctor counters that Paula's heart beat is probably pretty darn low and she can do 14 a day with a heart rate of under 140 bpm.  Well, phooey, she's right.  But then we come around to my doctor remarking that it seems so odd, even with my "stressed" personality, that my heart rate would be that high.  Runners are more efficient at pumping blood, we should have lower heart rates.  We come to the conclusion that we need more data!  When I wore a heart rate monitor years ago, I wasn't in great shape and I wasn't great at training regularly.  I'm SO much healthier than I was.  So we decide that I need to borrow a heart rate monitor from someone and pay close attention and see how my heart responds to the exertion.  Then we'll know what level of activity I can maintain.  Deal - I can handle that!

When she checks the baby's heartbeat a few minutes later, she turns the handheld ultrasound on my wrist and adds that the current evidence she hears right there (a lower resting heart beat than I thought I had) indicates maybe my better health will lead us to find I'm running under 140 bpm!

When I arrived home, I immediately hopped on Facebook and put out a call for help to my runner friends.  I explained the circumstances and asked if anyone would let me borrow their heart rate monitor (or Garmin GPS w/) for one week to collect data.  I hate to go out and buy one and immediately find that my heart rate is out of control and I shouldn't be running.  And there I would be with a new heart rate monitor that I can't use for another 7-8 months.  But if I borrow one and find I'm doing okay, I'll go out and buy a heart rate monitor to use through the rest of my pregnant running time.

I was so touched when immediately 5 or 6 people jumped up offering to let me borrow them.  Included were two twitter friends I've never actually met in person!  Twitter friend spamboy offered and he lives pretty darn close to me, so I took him up on his offer.  Hoping to connect with him tomorrow to pick it up!

Meanwhile, another friend responded that she had an extra new, unused, and wouldn't be used, New Balance heart rate monitor that she would mail me to keep! What a doll! This amazing woman ran through all 4 of her pregnancies until the very end.  She told me today that she couldn't keep her heart rate below 140 but her doctor told her it was okay as long as it would drop below 140 within 2 minutes when she stopped running.

Everyone, please cross their fingers that I'll have a nice low heart rate during this trial!  While I want the baby to be safe, staying active would be great for me, mentally and physically.

1 comment:

  1. Libby,
    From experience, if you are able to run and you decide to purchase a HR monitor, I would go with a Polar. I know the gut reaction is Garmin but the information that can be downloaded from a Polar monitor is acceptable by a cardiologist for comparison purposes. You can get just a monitor for around $50 for a basic monitor.
    I have known people that have continued to run through their third trimester - slowly but hey - running is running when you are addicted!