Afterthoughts to the post: 224 bpm Heart Rate @ rest

  • What’s the point of an heart rate monitor?

What’s the point of having and wearing an heart rate monitor if you aren’t using the data from the monitor to adjust your training?

Logan had an heart rate monitor… his heart rate monitor identified that his heart was getting stuck at an elevated rate and… “it had to be wrong”? Why did the heart rate monitor have to be wrong? Let me guess… when our technology gives us data that we like, then our technology is deemed to be working correctly; but when our technology gives us data that we don’t like, then our technology must be broken.  Ain’t that convenient.  Kinda sounds like we want the answers we want and anything to the contrary is denied, rejected, with the evidence eliminated asap. This is especially when the answers require us to slow down or worse, stop and reassess our trajectory.

Maybe its time that we started listening… and maybe hearing those who are identifying that the all-out all-the-time, beast-mode, PR or ER way we are approaching training and racing has nothing to do with peak performance, and worse, places our health in jeopardy.

As an aside… based on the above, I would hazard to guess that almost every bathroom weight scale is also “broken” because the number… well, really now… it cannot possibly be right, so it must be wrong… everyone just has ‘big bones’, besides obese is beautiful… isn’t it… that’s what all the marketing is selling… meanwhile that obesity is the precursor for virtually every disease says no one. Obviously not, because that’s not an answer we want to hear. We only want validation that everything we are doing is right, and nothing we are doing is ever wrong. We’ve become so weak that our fragile egos cannot handle the thought that we could possible be wrong, or be heading in the wrong direction.

  • Where is/was Logan’s trainer/coach for the past 2 years?

Logan states that this heart rate issue has been going on for the past 2 years! So… where is Logan’s trainer/coach in all of this? Let me guess, encouraging Logan that because he was placing in the top 10 in the Kelso MTB series and because other teens who placed consistently well in the series like Nicholas Diniz and Michael Foley who went on to race internationally in track cycling, cyclocross and road events means that no matter what.. Logan had to keep on – keepin’ on and push and himself harder and harder and then harder still.

High heart rate… pfff… what are you a wimp? Can’t handle a high heart rate? What a wus!

Hell no!

Logan’s trainer & coach is the wus: unable to tell his athlete that something is wrong and he is to stop immediately before something really goes wrong.

I find it extremely convenient how trainers/coaches claim to be experts in all things peak performance related, but then when it comes to being a first responder by recognizing potential health risks to an athlete… trainers/coaches side-step from ever slowing down or stopping an athlete, claiming that they aren’t health experts. How convenient… trainers & coaches can push and push and push athletes, driving them to their absolute limits (which just happens to be an health risk) but when it comes to whether that driving is having deleterious affects on an athlete… uh… i dunno… i dunno nothin about ‘health stuff’.

Isn’t it nice how trainers/coaches are oh so smart, and then oh so dumb …suiting their own needs, and not those of their athletes.

Indeed, its easy to push athletes, what’s not so easy and what’s not so glamorous is retaining the common sense that there are indicators that should require trainers/coaches to quite literally throw in the towel to ensure that their athlete doesn’t sustain any further damage, or risk any further damage to themselves.

We now have [after how many decades of denying that concussions are “a real thing”] concussions & head injury protocols for returning to sport.

Well isn’t it time that when an athlete sustains an inappropriately high heart rate (e.g. >= 220- age) that that should be a trigger much like a suspected head injury where the athlete should (a) immediately stop training and racing, (b) be required to undergo a thorough medical evaluation including ECG/EKG (as required in the UK for competitive cyclists), and (c) follow a return to sport protocol once medically cleared to resume sport that ensures that irregular heart beats and sustained elevated heart rates are no longer happening.  Or… do we need teenagers to start dying from heart attacks, then wait for a coroner to demand that amateur sport put in appropriate measures ensuring the safety of all athletes? Considering how many football players we’ve had to go through – literally go through – before concussions were deemed “a real thing”, won’t surprise me if we need a number of dead teens to prove that teenage heart disease manufactured through inappropriately intense training and racing is also “a real thing”.

Then again, with Sport Canada implementing the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport (UCCMS) which requires sport associations to ensure that athlete’s are not abused, mistreated or neglected… why isn’t the case of Logan OKrafka not a case of athlete neglect by the trainer/coach of his K-W cycling team. Logan reports that this heart rate issue has been going on for 2 years… is that not enough time for the team trainer/coach to write an email, make a call, contact a doctor and ask… hey, anything wrong with a teenager having a sustained heart rate on a regular basis?

  • 224 beats a minute… that’s almost 4 beats a second!

Logan stated that his heart rate monitor recorded elevated heart rates for him in nearly every race that he did during a 2 year period. How is it that an athlete doesn’t “feel” his heart pounding in his chest at a rate of 4 beats per second? Again I ask where is/where was his trainer/coach for the past 2 years? And, when did peak performance become about denying what your body is doing, or numbing yourself to what your body is doing?

Consider a Formula One driver who refuses to look at any of his indicators: oil temp, engine temp, oil levels, brake temp, tire temp, electrical system & recharge status, etc…  how long would it be before that driver would blow up their $10million Formula One race car? Not long. How much more valuable and important is the human body & brain? So where is the training/coaching that encourages self awareness, ongoing assessment and review of indicators (e.g. heart rate) to ensure that the athlete’s body and brain are working within appropriate ranges to ensure longevity, sustainability and most importantly health?

Right… its all about destroying oneself so that you post good power data online, with falling off your bike and puking the next 5mins deemed ‘epicly awesome’!

  • Ablation surgery… it ain’t no walk in the park

Logan stated that he will be going in for a surgical procedure to resolve his elevated heart rate. I believe the reasonable assumption is that he will be going in for ablation surgery – click here to link to the MayoClinic website with details on what is ablation surgery, the procedure, and the risks.

In short ablation surgery “corrects heart rhythm problems by destroying tissue in your heart that triggers or sustains an abnormal rhythm”. How exactly is that done? The surgeon has to get “into the heart” and to do so they enter the circulatory system either through the carotid artery in the neck or the femoral artery in the groin area of the upper leg and then push a probe (i.e. a catheter – which has all the tools in its tip to perform the procedure) all the way past the valves of the heart into the chambers of the heart itself.  If the surgeon isn’t going to go through an artery to get into the heart, there is only one other way to get in… open heart surgery.

This ain’t no walk in the park surgery people. And because it ain’t no walk in the park, surgery is typically preceded by a period of attempting to treat the abnormal heart rhythms using medication. But if the risk of cardiac arrest is high, then going straight to surgery is not out of the question. Based on Logan’s post it sounds like he is heading straight into surgery, implying that his risk of cardiac arrest is to high to waste any time screwing around with meds to see if they will work.

The MayoClinic website has a full list of risks to this surgical procedure but here is a short list: damage to vessels through which the catheter (probe) is pushed, puncture of the heart, damage to the heart valves, worsening of the heart rhythm abnormalities requiring insertion of a pacemaker, stroke, heart attack, etc…

Too much info? If you are an athlete, or a parent of a junior athlete then its up to you to become versed in what exactly are the risks of excessive hi intensity training and racing.

In the case of 15yr old cyclocross champion Charlie Craig in the UK, the cardiologist involved in the coroner’s case stated that “high surges of adrenaline” left the teenage boys heart scarred and vulnerable leading to a series of silent heart attacks that eventually took the life of the boy.

Trainers/coaches are eager to push and push and then push junior and masters athletes until they cannot go anymore, and clearly have no limits nor common sense as to how much is too much… you have to take ownership over what is reasonable and what is not, which also means that the temptation to ‘win’ at any cost – even the cost of your own heart has to be maintained by someone in the support camp of the athlete when the athlete is too young to understand the risks of excessive high intensity training and racing.

Sport is supposed to add quality of living and years to our lives, not take away years or quality of life. How you train matters. If you are working with a trainer/coach who doesn’t understand this principle, you are working with the wrong person: they will harm you before they help you, this I guarantee.

  • How many junior athletes (i.e. children/teens) have heart disease signs & symptoms?

I doubt that Logan OKrafka is the one and only teen who has heart disease signs & symptoms, so why aren’t we then hearing of many many more?

Because heart rate monitors (HRMs) are not worn by children/teens for the most part, so when these junior athletes are pushed and pushed and pushed they continue in the sport regardless of how hard they hurt provided their results are improving. While results are improving, while they are receiving attention, accolades, and awards… why quit… they put up with the hurt until the moment their results flatline or start heading south. At this point, these children/teens pull the rip cord, claim that they are tired of the sport, the sport isn’t fun anymore, or illness/injury take them out and they never return… and we simply assume that its for these reasons that their athletic career ended and not because they actually were physically & mentally hurting as a result of their training & racing.

How many Olympians are we hearing from not just in regards to physical injury and illness, but now more than ever regarding mental illnesses? Too many!

If children/teens wore HRMs in sports such as swimming, cycling, running/track&field, triathlon/multisport, hockey, soccer, lacrosse, etc… I would tend to believe that the heart rate data would be shocking.  I do not think that anyone has any appreciation for just how hard children/teens are being pushed to perform in organized sport, and I do not think that anyone has any appreciation for just how hard children/teen will allow themselves to be pushed, and how hard they will push themselves.

I do not believe Logan OKrafka is alone, the others are simply not heard from because they quietly drop out from sport or are forced to drop out due to a diagnosis that they do not broadcast.

  • How many other masters athletes have heart disease signs & symptoms?

Masters athletes typically do wear HRMs, but with masters its a different story… when they develop heart disease signs & symptoms, to an extent its “expected” because… well, because they are masters (i.e. they are in an age bracket that is likely to have heart disease). So when a masters athlete ends up at a cardiologist with heart disease signs & symptoms you think that the cardiologist is really gonna believe that its as a result of how they were training, or is the convenient answer… they’re over 50, over 60, … aka its expected.

Besides, for how many decades has their been a Public Health push to get the population exercising. Imagine now if you complicate the issue by stating that ‘how‘ you exercise matters. Public Health will argue that everyone who is already borderline exercising will be given the excuse not to exercise citing that ‘exercise can be equally bad for you’ if done incorrectly.

As if exercise is the only thing that can be done ‘wrong’… eat wrong and its bad for you… and would ya look at that… we have an obesity issue, wonder why?