From Running To Cycling

Before My Diagnosis

Before I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in September 2000, I was a long distance runner. I loved running.  I ran cross country and track in high school and college and then ran a dozen marathons. Running was very easy for me; it was natural and I felt very comfortable doing it. I kept a log book noting distance and time and that helped me prepare for meets and races. The discipline and runner’s high were very satisfying both physically and mentally. When my work took me on the road, running was something I could do easily anywhere.

Living With Cardiomyopathy

After I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy I had to stop running all together. I was devastated. I found myself dreaming about running and would often wake in a panic as the impressions in my mind were so vivid. To keep my body moving I started swimming at Walden Pond. Being in the water was very therapeutic and grounding for me. 

After My Cardiac Transplant

I guess my training for this post transplant ride started two weeks after I received my new donor heart when they put an exercise bike in my step down room. Donning headphones and under the supervision of my physical therapist I started a daily regiment of rides increasing the duration on the bike until my discharge on April 12, 2004. (my birthday)

Home With My New Heart

On July 4th, 2004 my wife and I completed a casual 24 mile ride on the very flat Cape Cod. I continued to swim at Walden Pond. Being buoyant in the water enabled me to do the breast stroke and help strengthen and stretch my chest and arm muscles. The swimming became such an important part of my daily activity that I bought a wet suit so that I could continue swimming into November. In addition to muscle tone and strength, my lung capacity and breathing became stronger with my swimming. I think the lower impact exercise of swimming made it possible for me to take on the demands of the kind of cycling I am doing now.

Training For The Tour de Second Chance

Training for the TOur de Second Chance put me back into my athletic mindset and with that I noticed some differences between my pre transplant body and my post transplant body. Swimming works my heart and increases the rate a little bit but cycling really makes demands on the heart. What I began to notice with my donated heart was that it would take 15 minutes for my body to really engage and be in sync. I remember the hospital staff mentioning that when I exercise I needed to start slowly and that idea made sense when I learned more about denervation. WIth denervation the transplanted heart’s response to exercise is altered.  That means I had to alter my rhythm and make sure I was always aware of those first 15 minutes in my workouts. Check out my Blog for more information about my training rides.