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Reasons to Run

Thursday, November 08, 2012

By Jon Ritchings, Jr.

It's three months post-op for me and I'm starting to run. I don't run far—maybe 500 or 600 feet before my lungs feel like they are about to explode and my knees are screaming for me to stop. I'm out there, though, and I'm doing it and I'm getting a little better at it every day.

People now ask me, why? It's so hard on your body and you’re gasping for breath. Especially with a heart condition. For me, there are three reasons:

  1. I spent the last ten years in heart failure. When it began I went from almost no symptoms to being too sick to have surgery. I used walking to battle back from a point where they thought my only option would be a transplant. I know it's not running, but I was moving at my maximum speed for that time. I don't have that problem anymore because I was able to get well enough to have surgery to repair my heart.
  2. I'm 41. I went almost 41 years without a pulmonary valve. I made it to 30 without any symptoms or signs of problems from it. When I did show problems I confounded doctors by doing things they didn't think were possible. I attribute that to my love for exercise. Throughout my twenties I would spend six days a week in the gym. I would spend 45 minutes lifting weights and run 6-7 miles. I was in great physical shape and I truly believe that my exercise habit kept the symptoms at bay longer than normal. When my symptoms did appear, they did not affect my ability to lead as normal a life as I had already been leading—I believe this was because I started in good physical condition.
  3. The last reason is the simplest of all of them. Because, I can. And with hard work (and after first making sure it’s OK with your ACHD cardiologist), maybe you could too.


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