My training regimen has not lived up to the pace of the Mayo Clinic Novice training schedule leading me to believe I may be more of a ‘pre-novice’ rather than novice.  I find I’m doing a bit more walking than running and for a shorter duration than recommended. 

Nevertheless I remain motivated – I love walking/running on the beach path.  It’s a very popular area and every morning I see scores of people out and about.  There are the pods of kids biking to middle school, some balancing their band instruments or backpacks in their bike basket with one hand and steering with the other; there are the dog walkers with their ; the moms with strollers and the elderly couples out for a morning stroll.  Dedicated runners pound by me in their expensive running shoes which, unlike mine, have long ago lost their bright newness; and professional cyclists whiz by hunched over their handlebars, thick hard thigh muscles incased in sleek black lycra.  When appropriate I raise a hand in greeting or exchange a brief ‘good morning’ with my fellow exercisers. 

My favorite part of the path runs along an area of coastal dune regeneration, where the green scrubby sage plants, wispy grasses and California poppies are gaining a tentative toehold in the sand, protected by a line of rope and signs that ask people to give the plants a chance. I inhale much more deeply, taking in the distinctive perfume of the southern California countryside; a light spicy green fragrance mixed with the deeper headier ocean scents. I can see the waves crashing ashore just past the dunes and hear the calls of seabirds above the dull roar of the water.  I love this area. 

A lot of the people I pass (those would be the ones heading in the opposite direction from me) and who pass me (running up from behind) are wearing headphones.  I don’t have an MP3 player or Ipod so I’m left with my own thoughts for company.  At first I had an idea that this would be a good thing – the calm of the area would no doubt be meditative and perhaps I could achieve a Zen like state; or maybe I’d mull over problems and opportunities and have a brilliant ‘Aha!’ moment.  Sadly I’ve not found this to be the case.  My thoughts as I exercise are more likely to go like this:

 “It’s cold.  My nose is starting to run again.  Why didn’t I bring tissue?  I wonder how far I’ve gone. Maybe I’ll check the pedometer.  No, don’t check it so soon, you’ll just be disappointed.  Ok, time to run again.  Running, running, running.  Is that enough?  Keep going, you can make it to that bench, ok, pshew.  Wonder how far I’ve gone.  Maybe I’ll just walk a little longer this time.  You’ll go farther if you run instead of walk.  OK, ready to run again.  Ow, why does my toe hurt?  I bet I have something in my shoe. I’ll just stop for a minute and check.  You have nothing in your shoe but your foot and sock, and that’s all good so keep going.  Think I need a water break, puff, puff, puff.  I’ll just run until I get behind those old power walking ladies, then I’ll slow down, don’t want them to feel bad. Puff, puff, puff.  Wow, those gals are fast!  Wonder how far I’ve gone?  I’ll just check.  Only .67 of a mile?  Groan.” 

Real brilliant stuff alright!  My training also suffered a minor setback due to some pain it was provoking – although the shin splints seem to have been alleviated by the special sports gel insoles that I purchased and installed in my shoes.  Last Wednesday I went for my beach walk/run and then headed over to my friends warehouse to help her pack up some items.  When we finished she left to take the boxes to the shipper and I was on the verge of following her out the door when I was struck by some fairly severe chest pains.  I couldn’t seem to walk so I just lay down on the floor and waited for them to pass.  Time passes slowly when you are in pain and it was a nasty squeezing pain that gripped my chest and tore through my upper back and up into my jaw.  In reality I suppose only four or five minutes passed before I felt I could sit up. Since I still felt sort of queasy and off-center I sat propped up against the wall for another ten or so. 

Before you ask, no, I didn’t rush myself to the emergency room or urgent care (but I promise I will if it happens again).  I did check my blood pressure and it was nice and low.  I called my doctor the next morning and when she called me back late in the day she didn’t ask me to come in.  I took Thursday off from my training and started back on Friday with no more than a brisk one-mile walk.  I felt pretty much back to normal by then. Naturally it rained all weekend putting me another two days behind schedule but it was clear enough (although cold) this morning to get back into it!  I sure am looking forward to reaching the point where that ‘runner’s high’ kicks in!

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15 Responses to Training

  1. beenthere says:

    I couldn’t believe what I was reading here!


    Why are you so calmly blogging about it when you have done nothing to treat it?
    Do not exercise anymore until you have seen a more compassionate doctor than your own.

    You will have another attack and this one might not let you live! Go to the nearest hospital and tell them what happened. Don’t hospitals have to treat you no matter what?

    Do this for yourself and your kids. Have the will to live!

  2. Jay says:

    And thus why I will never live in the US. And I’ll admit that I only know about the US medical system from tv and various interactions with Americans…. but, aren’t you eligible for Medi-Cal? I thought California has some kind of medical program for low/no income parents?

  3. And yeah, NO MORE RUNNING or even fast walking until you get checked!!!!!!!!!

  4. You are very lucky. Those are classic heart attack symptoms for women (back and jaw pain). There is a blood test they can do to check and see if you’ve had a heart attack. Most times the first symptom of heart attack is you’re dead. It is nothing to play around with. Go to the county hospital and get checked out. It’s only money, but if you die, what happens to your kids?

    And I had a similar event last February and wracked up a $6,000 bill at our county hospital (of which I’m resp. for $1k due to being “low income”, but I can’t pay that either. What are they going to do? Demand a pound of flesh.

    Take care of yourself. Those kids need you.


    • boxcarkids says:

      If I racked up a bill like that I’d have to turn over my trailer fund to pay for it and I’ve already dipped into it more than I like. It’s taken me a VERY long time to save any money. The blood test might have worked if I’d gotten it in the the first 24-48 hours but it’s too late now. And they wouldn’t have done the blood test without a lot of other tests anyway which would drive the price up. I’m taking an asprin every day and my supplements and fish oil and moderating my exercise so that’s going to have to do it for now. IF I do have another episode I will get myself to the ER. I did pay $100 for a cardiac CT (75% discount as a Heart Aware participant) for my calcium score which showed that I probably don’t have placque build-up as my score was a big fat 0! (400 is BAD). So I’m feeling reasonably confident that all will be well.

      • The day my dad went in for an angiogram and they found three clogged arteries (and subsequent immediate surgery–the advised him not to go home), his cholesteral was 135.

        I know things are tough. They are for me, too. But dead is pretty permanent.

        As Aragon says to Frodo in LOTR:

        “Are you scared?”
        “Not scared enough.”

        I am concerned for you.

        Don’t tell the hospital about your trailer fund. How would they find out unless you tell them? They don’t have time or resources to go looking for your various bank accounts.


  5. maja says:

    When I first started walk-running I did heaps more walking than running. It takes quite a long time to get better but you will be surprised by your improvement. You are going to need to get good shoes eventually to stop the shin splints and other injuries. I doubt the insoles will last forever. New shoes make a huge difference.

    I hope your heart aware program appointment is early in april. You should definitely stick to walking until then. Walking is very good exercise for your body, anyway. Please be careful!

  6. wondering says:

    Those were classic heart attack symptoms. Please don’t shrug this off. I’m not a doctor, but I am a first aid attendant – if I had someone displaying those symptoms I would be calling an ambulance post-haste.

    You may be able to prevent a recurring event if you see your doctor. They may be able to provide samples of medication that you can take if you feel an attack coming on.

    • boxcarkids says:

      Wouldn’t that just be ironic? I try to improve my health by exercising and end up with a heart attack? I just keep thinking it must have been stress or heartburn. I have to admit I just couldn’t see going to the ER with no insurance or way to pay. I do have another visit to the Heart Aware program in April (where they will test my cholesterol, etc and give me an EKG). And I haven’t had any more pains or anything since last Wednesday. I’m going to take it easy and keep training (but did put a card with emergency info in my pocket in case I collapse while running) and will go somewhere if I have another similar situation.

      • Linda says:

        There are hospital who view it as their mission to treat the poor, knowing full well that they cannot pay. I work at one, but it’s not located anywhere that will help you. But find one. You’re playing with fire. And your kids will be the ones who get burned sadly.

  7. Linda P. says:

    It’s hard to know what to do when we experience such moments. We don’t want to overreact. We don’t want to be hypochondriacs, to be deemed silly. We think about whether we’ll be home in time to get the children after school if we do go into the ER. We may not want to know if it’s something to worry about or not.

    But it’s so much better to get it checked out and find out that it’s nothing to worry you than it is to risk not going, only to have it be something that should be treated.

  8. Jerry says:

    OMG did your doctor at least tell you no running for a while? That really sounds like you had some sort of cardiac event.

    Have you ever had a stress test? You should (I apologize here for the unsolicited advice but I’m worried) probably stick to walking until you are able to get a stress test.

    • boxcarkids says:

      My doctor didn’t actually speak to me – I left a message and her receptionist called back with her reply. Remember – I don’t have any health insurance so I’m not a VI Patient! I had a stress test years ago after having chest pains and all was well. It was put down to stress.

  9. Beth says:

    Your blood pressure would actually be low if you were having a heart attack – not high. Please make sure you get yourself checked out if you have any more of those symptoms! Even the slightest of symptoms.

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