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Mental adjustment

The MacPherson Forest loop was my last long trail run
It is a challenging (character-building?) time for me.  I find myself constantly re-evaluating my situation, looking for plausible positive scenarios (while trying not to fool myself), and fending off the darker morbid thoughts that must come to anybody who suddenly finds they have a potentially life-threatening medical condition.  I always assumed that my serious running career would be brought to an end by some major joint failure.  I did not expect it to be threatened by a cardio-vascular event, and it's taking time to get my head around the consequences.  With joint failure, there were always going to be alternative forms of endurance exercise such as cycling, hiking or kayaking to fill the running void, but a cardiac problem will be just as much of an issue for those activities.

MacPherson State Forest trail run
It's amazing how quickly your perspective changes, especially with the resources of the Web and Google to inform you.  I'm already thinking about changing the title of this blog to "The Futile Pursuit of a Last Sub-3 Hour Marathon" as it's hard for me to believe that I will ever be able to subject my heart to the stress necessary to run that fast again.  New goals are formulating.

Of most importance to me is the ability to exercise most days and feel good about my health, well-being, and quality of life.  It would be great to include occasional long "no pressure" trail runs, and be able to go for extended hikes/rides in remote places.  Compromises will be needed, along with patience.

MacPherson State Forest trail run
I have already decided I'm willing to reduce daily and weekly distances, give up the pursuit of age-group podiums, and even walk up hills.  If it seems likely to reduce the risks, I'll cut out caffeine (despite my well-known penchant for Diet Coke and Pepsi Max) and stop using my asthma inhalant, Symbicort.  All of these things - too much endurance/hard running, caffeine, steroid-based asthma medications - are statistically correlated with Atrial Fibrillation and cited as possible risk factors.  Age (I'm 63) is another significant risk factor, but I can't do much about that.

There will be more tests and doctor consultations to come, and there are still plenty of "unknowns", but it will help me deal with the situation if I've started mentally adjusting to the life-style compromises that may be required.