Is the short answer. Grrrrrrr.
The question was, Are endurance athletes hurting their hearts by repeatedly pushing beyond what is normal?
OMG. If ever there lived a headline that better demonstrates the 'call to fear' tactic (so prevalent in today's fast food-esque, social media hype to 'look inside') I have yet to visit it.
It is cheap. misleading, sensationalistic and filled with weasel-wording innuendo. But you looked inside didn't you?
Of course you did - and so did I.
What I found was some data, a few stories, anecdotal research and a boat-load of fear mongering. Again.
We have seen this before. And I seriously dislike the model.
Upon further review (thank you NFL) we find the following glaring paucity of explainational depth, in JUST the header!
1) Define an endurance athlete.
2) How often is repeatedly?
3) What is normal?
The body of the piece is OK, presented with a relatively unbiased examination of the data and seemingly without a sales agenda.
Having lived through the procedures described, being an 'endurance athlete', and wanting to continue both my existence and experience, I offer this to those whose response was one of fear:
If you receive a modicum of value from your training, racing and testing, do not allow this propaganda to slow you down. Do what you love. Love what you do. Run hard, run long, ride hard and ride long. Race your ass off. Take it to the limit several more times.
We are ALL going to lose the final battle. We are ALL going to die. Many of us from heart related issues. Many are avoidable if attention is properly placed when choosing one's style of life.
I do not consider fear and sloth, laziness and apathy, obesity and diabetes elements of a high quality of life.
I am going to go, go hard and go long.
As long as I am able.
My body will tell me, as is the way of the natural and organic, when the time has come to back-off, slow down or take a break. Please do not expect me to use this crap as an excuse. Ain't gonna happen.
Look, I have a genetic code that puts me at-risk for atrial fibrillation. I have it, and it is chronic. I also have Bradycardia, the polar extreme of Tachycardia. Too SLOW a HR vice too fast. The only time I feel OK is when I am training, can you guess why? I have undergone the invasive and the benign procedures. There is pacemaker in my chest. I take medications. I am 63. I train every day, most days X2.
Comically, I hope everyone in my age group responds to this article by discontinuing their training and racing immediately. Sadly, I know that most will not especially those who I have been chasing for 25 years. I know their MOs, they race to win, they put the hammer down when caution is just as appropriate. They hate my guts for making them work so hard.
Additionally, I don't care. I have made it through six decades marching to my own set of drums. I have made plenty of mistakes. I have remorse, sure, and I wish I could take a mulligan or two. But I can't. If I drop dead tomorrow from myocardial infarction, or get flattened by a texting truck driver, who cares? Not me. I am gonna live this thing out at full volume, full throttle and with full experience. Not half-assed because I might stroke out by doing the very thing that gives me purpose and joy.
Here are my final thoughts:
1) Four percent of the US population has AFib.
2) On its own it is not life threatening.
3) The danger is in clotting and stroke.
4) Get a good diagnosis.
5) And by far the most important…..
DO NOT LET ANYONE TELL YOU TO SLOW DOWN. EVER.
The article thinks the answer is maybe.
The weak think the answer is yes.
My answer is no.