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Overtraining and HR?

Old 02-27-19, 08:54 AM
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Dreww10
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Overtraining and HR?

As noted in a prior post, I've been for about 9 months battling what is believed to be an overtraining condition that has persisted despite all efforts to recover. One of the more alarming signs, and one I've been using to gauge recovery, is my HR. Some sources suggest OT results in a suppressed HR, while others say it increases (both resting and active). Mine has been the latter.


For the first 6-8 months of this process, my morning resting HR remained at its peak fitness level of 44-45 bpm. Only in the last few weeks, that I completely stopped riding (was doing about one easy ride a week) and became sedentary did it rise to about 50-51. But it's the active HR that causes concern. In the past, I could do recovery rides steadily under 100 bpm; now I'm at around 105 standing over the bike in the driveway, and over 130 if I want to keep the bike in forward motion on a flat road. 180-190, which used to be difficult to reach and was the blow-up point, is now easily attainable. My moderate pace HR (riding about 17 mph) average HR has gone from 115 to about 145-149. Most notably, my maximum HR has increased from 195 to somewhere north of 205 (I wasn't at my limit, so I'm certain it's higher). I've not been able to find any information out there on one's max HR actually increasing, especially not to a value that high, so that one concerns me. HR has been elevated across the board from the very day I rode "off the cliff" but was fairly close to normal early on in the process. It has essentially steadily increased with time, rather than level out or retreat back to normal.


I recently took about 6 weeks completely off and my numbers were even higher (to the numbers noted above). If anything, I would have expected a reduction in HR as the lengthy rest time contributed to some degree of recovery, but the very clear increase suggests possible further de-training.


That all being said, I never checked my pulse before I started cycling, and didn't track it for the first couple years of cycling, so I don't know my de-trained/sedentary heart rate ranges. I'm still fatigued and struggle to sleep so I'm sure the OT still has its grip on me, but what is the likelihood of these just being my completely de-trained heart rate numbers? Is it possible that I could have ridden for 4 years, never seen a HR max of 200, and then suddenly after a lengthy period of rest, be able to do so? And does anyone have any possible insight on the HR max increase?
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Old 02-27-19, 09:13 AM
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Have you used the same HR strap for the last 4 years? I had one that started reading above 200 a lot and I got suspicious when I started hitting 220 and 240s so I ended up getting a new HR and only once with the new HR did I get to 190, most rides 180 seem to be my max. I checked with my old monitor on the new strap and it worked fine again so it was just defective strap. I replaced it with a cheap ebay one and it worked fine with that. I don't know anything about overtraining so I can't comment on that, but if you haven't checked with another monitor that might be something to consider.
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Old 02-27-19, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Dreww10 View Post
And does anyone have any possible insight on the HR max increase?
Have you had an EKG? Your symptoms and background are more consistent with Afib or some other heart condition than overtraining. When in Afib HR monitors don't read properly.
I rode with a friend who dealt with Afib for about a year before getting it fixed with ablation. He would occasionally enter Afib during a ride and it would be like a light switch was turned off. He could still ride but at about 50-70% of his normal power. Something to investigate with your doc.
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Old 02-27-19, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by clasher View Post
Have you used the same HR strap for the last 4 years? I had one that started reading above 200 a lot and I got suspicious when I started hitting 220 and 240s so I ended up getting a new HR and only once with the new HR did I get to 190, most rides 180 seem to be my max. I checked with my old monitor on the new strap and it worked fine again so it was just defective strap. I replaced it with a cheap ebay one and it worked fine with that. I don't know anything about overtraining so I can't comment on that, but if you haven't checked with another monitor that might be something to consider.
When it first happened, I ran out and got a new battery. Happened again and I bought a whole new monitor and battery. They were all consistent, unfortunately.
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Old 02-27-19, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
Have you had an EKG? Your symptoms and background are more consistent with Afib or some other heart condition than overtraining. When in Afib HR monitors don't read properly.
I rode with a friend who dealt with Afib for about a year before getting it fixed with ablation. He would occasionally enter Afib during a ride and it would be like a light switch was turned off. He could still ride but at about 50-70% of his normal power. Something to investigate with your doc.
Have an appointment to have one run. My symptoms (and all the signs that I ignored leading up to it) are right in line with OTS. But the heart rate part has been seemingly unique to my case.
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Old 02-27-19, 11:25 AM
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The quick and easy calibration test for heart monitors - count your pulse for 6 seconds and multiply by 10. (Or 10 seconds and 6 for a little more accuracy.) Back before electronics, we wore wrist watches with those revolving sticks. As HR monitors, crude but they worked and were not subject to gremlins. I'd sit up at the top hills and put my hand on my heart.

Ben
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Old 02-27-19, 01:04 PM
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You've massively detrained. That's all it is. Most likely. Do you have other symptoms, like muscle or joint pain? Overcooking it always results in a lower HR during hard efforts. Continued attempting to force a high HR with hard efforts while HR remains unusually low results in overtraining if continued long enough. Resting HR OTOH will increase by as much as 10 beats during the process of becoming overtrained. The difference between resting and resting standing HRs will also increase during this process, becoming as high as 20 beats or so. It's really easy to tell what's going on from these markers. They are very reliable. Upon quitting training for a long period to recover, HRs will very slowly come back to sedentary levels. Resting and working hard HRs both will come back to higher than trained levels, which is what you're seeing. Normal.

Afib is very noticeable with an ordinary strap-and-watch or Garmin type HRM.

I think when you were doing recovery rides at under 100 HR, you were already overcooked. I never do them at less than 105. When I'm totally overcooked, I can hammer the pedals without HR going over 105. One week completely off, then resuming at a reduced level fixes that. It's good to find where your limits are and learn to recognize them.

As I've mentioned many times, it's good to take both one's resting and resting-standing HRs and keep track of them and the difference between them, one's orthostatic HR.

I think it's possible that your MHR now is higher than it was at previous sedentary levels because you still have some aerobic ability in there.
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Old 02-27-19, 04:54 PM
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Heart rate is higher when you're detrained, lower when you're trained.
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Old 02-27-19, 05:28 PM
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^ Yeah, very simply said. Newbies, just starting training with a HRM are amazed and worried about how every little hill kicks their HR up to where they have medical fears. That's universal when coming off sedentary. Been there, done that.
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Old 02-27-19, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
You've massively detrained. That's all it is. Most likely. Do you have other symptoms, like muscle or joint pain? Overcooking it always results in a lower HR during hard efforts. Continued attempting to force a high HR with hard efforts while HR remains unusually low results in overtraining if continued long enough. Resting HR OTOH will increase by as much as 10 beats during the process of becoming overtrained. The difference between resting and resting standing HRs will also increase during this process, becoming as high as 20 beats or so. It's really easy to tell what's going on from these markers. They are very reliable. Upon quitting training for a long period to recover, HRs will very slowly come back to sedentary levels. Resting and working hard HRs both will come back to higher than trained levels, which is what you're seeing. Normal.

Afib is very noticeable with an ordinary strap-and-watch or Garmin type HRM.

I think when you were doing recovery rides at under 100 HR, you were already overcooked. I never do them at less than 105. When I'm totally overcooked, I can hammer the pedals without HR going over 105. One week completely off, then resuming at a reduced level fixes that. It's good to find where your limits are and learn to recognize them.

As I've mentioned many times, it's good to take both one's resting and resting-standing HRs and keep track of them and the difference between them, one's orthostatic HR.

I think it's possible that your MHR now is higher than it was at previous sedentary levels because you still have some aerobic ability in there.
As always, appreciate your insight.

Honestly, the more I think about it, the less inclined I am to think it's de-training, no matter how much I wish it were. After riding off the cliff, I ignorantly continued to ride, but trimmed back volume by 50-75% and eliminated intensity entirely. 90% of my rides over these 9 months have been 20 miles or less and so my endurance would have of course dwindled for that reason, but nevertheless, I continued to ride and reap some form of health benefit. As recently as the last week of December, I was able to make it 45 (slow) miles, but after that, I parked the bike and have only been out twice in the ensuing two months. A few years back, I would take the entire winter off, 4-5 months solid on the couch, and wouldn't lose much fitness...I could still average 18-20 mph without fault. But now I'm working myself to the bone to go 16 mph. Even on the first day I picked up a bicycle, having never exercised in my life, I was significantly faster than I am now. Just doesn't seem like de-training, particularly as my body doesn't just get sore, but completely shuts down/feels depleted and cramps up after ~15 very slow miles.

It's been an interesting (and extremely unpleasant) experience as some of the common markers aren't there, while some others are: no rise in resting HR, no illness, no loss of sex drive, no weight gain or loss of appetite, no rise or fall in cortisol, no suppressed active HR...but have had a complete loss of power and endurance, poor sleep, low T, daily fatigue, and achy legs.
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Old 02-27-19, 08:21 PM
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I dunno if it's different from person to person, but I'm certainly in the "overreached" phase right now. I felt like I was doing a decent job of moderating intensity, and had cut back on elevation, but this morning no amount of effort could get my HR out of Z1, which immediately leads to the sandbag legs. Should have taken the shortcut home around mile 15, but instead went around the lap again and finished the morning absolutely wasted after 43 miles. I've had persistent fatigue and inability to fall asleep at night (despite feeling exhausted all day) for around 2 weeks. Not my first time here, and I have the memory of my full-on trip into OTS some years ago to use as a gauge for how I'm feeling now. I mean, my riding habits generally teeter on the edge of "this is an unhealthy pursuit," which means no less than 25 miles tomorrow and no less than 62.2 on Friday to knock out the March Strava Fondo Challenge.

But certainly no loss of appetite, so I've got that going for me.
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Old 02-27-19, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Dreww10 View Post
As always, appreciate your insight.

Honestly, the more I think about it, the less inclined I am to think it's de-training, no matter how much I wish it were. After riding off the cliff, I ignorantly continued to ride, but trimmed back volume by 50-75% and eliminated intensity entirely. 90% of my rides over these 9 months have been 20 miles or less and so my endurance would have of course dwindled for that reason, but nevertheless, I continued to ride and reap some form of health benefit. As recently as the last week of December, I was able to make it 45 (slow) miles, but after that, I parked the bike and have only been out twice in the ensuing two months. A few years back, I would take the entire winter off, 4-5 months solid on the couch, and wouldn't lose much fitness...I could still average 18-20 mph without fault. But now I'm working myself to the bone to go 16 mph. Even on the first day I picked up a bicycle, having never exercised in my life, I was significantly faster than I am now. Just doesn't seem like de-training, particularly as my body doesn't just get sore, but completely shuts down/feels depleted and cramps up after ~15 very slow miles.

It's been an interesting (and extremely unpleasant) experience as some of the common markers aren't there, while some others are: no rise in resting HR, no illness, no loss of sex drive, no weight gain or loss of appetite, no rise or fall in cortisol, no suppressed active HR...but have had a complete loss of power and endurance, poor sleep, low T, daily fatigue, and achy legs.
Glad I asked about the legs! Get thee to a doctor, have the doc look at auto-immune markers, sedimentation rate, that kind of thing, the doc will know. Then if things aren't entirely kosher, to a rheumatologist. Decent chance it's what I and a biking buddy of mine came down with last summer: polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR).

This is a difficult to diagnose disease, but your complaints do fit it. How old are you? Hardly anyone under 50 every gets it, it's most common in those over 70, but my buddy is 62. Low T fits. Achy legs fit. When you hold your arms by your sides and raise them in front of you to over your head, do your shoulders hurt? Is it difficult to make a fist? Are your hands swollen? Does your pain keep you awake at night, make it hard to roll over? Is the worst time of your day by far the first hour after rising? These are all PMR symptoms. Then there's also thyroid and a variety of other hormonal things which can go wrong. Doctor anyway, full blood work with a PMR suspicion if you fit those symptoms.
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Old 02-27-19, 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
I dunno if it's different from person to person, but I'm certainly in the "overreached" phase right now. I felt like I was doing a decent job of moderating intensity, and had cut back on elevation, but this morning no amount of effort could get my HR out of Z1, which immediately leads to the sandbag legs.
You're absolutely right on the person to person. I know I have overreached at times over the years, but have never had an issue getting my HR up....not even when I went into this full-bore OTS.
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Old 02-27-19, 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
This is a difficult to diagnose disease, but your complaints do fit it. How old are you? Hardly anyone under 50 every gets it, it's most common in those over 70, but my buddy is 62. Low T fits. Achy legs fit. When you hold your arms by your sides and raise them in front of you to over your head, do your shoulders hurt? Is it difficult to make a fist? Are your hands swollen? Does your pain keep you awake at night, make it hard to roll over? Is the worst time of your day by far the first hour after rising? These are all PMR symptoms. Then there's also thyroid and a variety of other hormonal things which can go wrong. Doctor anyway, full blood work with a PMR suspicion if you fit those symptoms.
35. 34 at the time of onset.

No issues at all with the shoulders. In fact, I've been doing consistent upper-body lifting (no bench/squat/deadlift so as to not tax any systems) and have made some very steady gains/muscle growth throughout this period. Other than cycling, I haven't lost any other physical capabilities and don't have any pains. The leg aching isn't painful at all, just sort of akin to post-ride soreness and/or lactic acid build-up....for example, I can be off the bike for a month, but for a few hours on a random day my quads will feel as though I just rode 60-70 miles. It doesn't persist, and there's little rhyme or reason for it (ie can't tie it to a specific food, lack of sleep, or anything like that).
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Old 02-27-19, 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Dreww10 View Post
35. 34 at the time of onset.

No issues at all with the shoulders. In fact, I've been doing consistent upper-body lifting (no bench/squat/deadlift so as to not tax any systems) and have made some very steady gains/muscle growth throughout this period. Other than cycling, I haven't lost any other physical capabilities and don't have any pains. The leg aching isn't painful at all, just sort of akin to post-ride soreness and/or lactic acid build-up....for example, I can be off the bike for a month, but for a few hours on a random day my quads will feel as though I just rode 60-70 miles. It doesn't persist, and there's little rhyme or reason for it (ie can't tie it to a specific food, lack of sleep, or anything like that).
Well it's not PMR then. Back to the untrained or see the doctor for blood tests hypothesis.
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Old 02-28-19, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Well it's not PMR then. Back to the untrained or see the doctor for blood tests hypothesis.
Is there any precedent for the body for being more de-trained after OTS than typical took-six-months-off de-trained? In other words, OTS doesn't rob your body of its fitness more than being sedentary, right?
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Old 02-28-19, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Dreww10 View Post
In other words, OTS doesn't rob your body of its fitness more than being sedentary, right?
It seems possible that it could if OTS leads to other systemic problems. There is an interesting 2012 paper here. Sounds like OTS is still not very well understood.
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Old 02-28-19, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Dreww10 View Post
Is there any precedent for the body for being more de-trained after OTS than typical took-six-months-off de-trained? In other words, OTS doesn't rob your body of its fitness more than being sedentary, right?
I don't know. The paper linked to above has more information than I. It's good that it offers a hypothesis and suggestions for tests. Thinking it may be an inflammatory condition, you might ask your doc to consider a prescription for a round of prednisone. See if the doc thinks that a positive response to prednisone might be diagnostic. There are also many supplements which might help if what you are experiencing is an inflammatory response.
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Old 03-01-19, 01:56 AM
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Check any meds you're taking, prescription and OTC.

Supplements too, since you also lift weights and mentioned some muscle growth. Lots of possibilities for stimulants than can affect HR and BP. Been there, done that, had persistent high resting heart rate and blood pressure spikes to show for it. One by one I identified and reduced or eliminated possible causes.

Unfortunately some health supplements aimed at athletes may bury ingredients in fine print, or omit listing them entirely with some exotic imported supplements. Ephedra, guarana, yohimbe and other stimulants are popular in many supplements advertised as energy boosters. I won't buy any supplements that lack full ingredients lists or come from sketchy sources. In some cases the unscrupulous makers add stimulants to give users an energy buzz that they'll mistake for "better nutrition" so they'll keep buying one brand of protein powder over another.

For years I used Sudafed for painful sinus congestion (pseudo-ephedrine, not phenylephrine -- the latter is useless for sinus congestion but somewhat useful in hemorrhoid ointments) and bronchial decongestants containing ephedrine for asthma. I knew those were increasing my heart rate and BP but had no alternatives since I lost coverage for Flonase and albuterol inhalers -- the latter are very expensive without insurance. But through the VA all my meds are covered now so I have those inhalers again.

However I wanted to reduce the ephedra based decongestants. A month or so ago I tried bromelain, a pineapple enzyme that reduces inflammation -- it seems to be most effective on sinus inflammation for some reason, less effective with other inflammation. And niacin, Vitamin B3, which loosens mucus congestion. There are published papers for both supplements on the NIH/NCBI PubMed site. Works for me. It's not as effective as Sudafed, but works pretty well and my HR and BP are back within normal range.

Ditto, @Carbonfiberboy's suggestion to get tested for possible immune system problems or other issues that might aggravate problems with inflammation. It's a little less likely at your age, mid 30s, but still worth checking. I ignored my health until I was 60 and was lucky to get away with it.

For over a decade I ignored a doctor's warning about Hashimoto's thyroid disorder. I was first told about it in the late 1990s or early 2000s. Got so busy with other stuff that I neglected my health for years, never saw a doctor at all for more than a decade. It all caught up with me very suddenly in 2018. Thyroid swelled so badly it was distorting and constricting my esophagus and trachea. Had zero energy, could hardly get out of bed let alone ride my bike. Chronic pain throughout the whole body. Finally had surgery in November to remove a cancerous thyroid lobe.

Still recovering but feeling better. It'll probably be months before I'm back to normal but I can still handle 2-3 rides of 20-30 miles a week at a moderate effort -- around 16 mph average, probably averaging 125-150 watts with occasional brief efforts of 200 watts for a few minutes and 300-400 for up to 30 seconds or so. That's based on crunching Strava data in to various online calculators, but those seem to match the data for folks I know who use power meters on the same rides (and we're about the same size and weight).

I don't mean to sound any alarm about immune disorders. Usually I'm skeptical about such claims (some of my friends claim to be hypersensitive to everything from gluten to "negative ions" -- as opposed to the positive kind -- to the extent they sound like candidates to become bubble-people), which is why I ignored my own symptoms for years. But occasionally it's a real thing. A simple blood test would have set me straight years ago, but I just didn't get it done.

I still take some supplements that probably aren't necessary or even helpful -- DHEA, pregnenolone -- but I'm anxious to regain my cycling form. Ditto iron since I'm borderline anemic, but none of the pill supplements seem to make any difference so I'm eating chicken livers and beef liver once or twice a week.
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Old 04-07-19, 07:25 PM
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Circling back around after several more weeks off and the first really significant bout of fatigue (non-active) since OTS set in almost exactly 10 months ago.

As noted, after riding off the cliff, I continued riding at a gradually decreasing level, but almost entirely just 17-25 miles at a time with zero intensity. I took the entire month of January off, rode a couple of times and realized it was a waste of time trying, took 2-3 more weeks off, rode once or twice, and took off almost the entire month of March.

Realistically, how much could one expect their HR to increase from the above scenario? My HR has gradually increased throughout this ordeal to where it's at least 20-30 bpm high for any given effort, including my HR while standing over the the bike in the driveway.

Likewise, how much fitness could one realistically lose in this case? I've read this can be about 15-20%, and most of my fellow locals seem to come back from a hiatus without losing much, but I've essentially gone from averaging 20 mph fairly easily to working really hard to average 15. I don't have a power meter, but I would guess that's an FTP drop of well over 50%. I essentially have no power, nor any endurance (about 25 miles absolute max). To tie the two questions together, at 15.5 mph avg speed my avg HR is 133. Prior to OTS, I could avg 15.0 mph on a recovery ride with an avg HR of 97-98. I can say without hesitation that I am significantly less capable now than I was when I started cycling 6 years ago.

I keep remaining hopeful that it's simply significant de-training, but the progression of symptoms, continued loss of power and increase in HR makes it evident it's not.
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Old 04-08-19, 08:21 AM
  #21  
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I could avg 15.0 mph on a recovery ride with an avg HR of 97-98.
Well, the good news is - your'e not dying!

You've got so much going on in this thread - not much use in commenting. So I guess I better comment.

Quit using a HR monitor, listen to your body and continue easy rides. Go to a doctor for an EKG, and then go to second doctor for s stress-EKG. And then start a new thread about what you learned.
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Old 04-08-19, 08:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Richard Cranium View Post
Well, the good news is - your'e not dying!

You've got so much going on in this thread - not much use in commenting. So I guess I better comment.

Quit using a HR monitor, listen to your body and continue easy rides. Go to a doctor for an EKG, and then go to second doctor for s stress-EKG. And then start a new thread about what you learned.
That's the plan. BTW, the speed/HR you quoted was my former ability, not current. I can't even walk to the kitchen at less than 100 bpm now.
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Old 04-10-19, 04:38 PM
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As I've said before, whatever's wrong with you, it's not and hasn't been OTS. You simply need a smart doctor, a full panel of blood tests, and as "dickhead" says, an EKG. You don't, and never had OTS symptoms, and your current symptoms are not the ones a person has when recovering from OTS. See: https://support.garmin.com/en-US/?pr...155&tab=topics

Stop fooling around on BF and get help. You're wasting your time and your health.
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