Sports Medicine/Sedentary, safe to do an endurance race?
QUESTION: Hello, I am a 38 year old male. I was an athlete in high school, but the past 14 years I haven't been nearly as active as I would like. I am about 70-80 lbs overweight now and I have a family history of obesity, diabetes and cardiac risk factors. My diet and a high-stress job are the main culprits of my unhealthy lifestyle. My wife is an avid runner and I would love to be as active as she is. Last summer I ran in a relay race with her (3 different runs within about 18 hours, totaling 12 miles) in the mountains, up and down hills, etc. it was an extreme endurance event but I did it! But last year I had been exercising and eating well for 8 months before the race and I had lost 45 lbs. This year, I have gained back nearly all the weight I had lost and have returned to my sedentary lifestyle. I was trying to train for this race (the same one as last year) by following a running training plan, but I've developed plantar fasciitis so I quit after about 3 weeks. I am now doing almost no exercise at all, my foot hurts most of the time, and the stress at work is greater than ever. My question is this: I really want to do this race to show my wife that I'm not a total loss, and I don't want to let anyone down. But am I in danger of a heart attack if I push myself and do this race in 3 weeks? I'm sure I can push myself and do it, even if I feel like I'm going to die, but I don't want to actually die! I wanted a doctor's opinion because my wife is concerned about it.
ANSWER: Hi Matt- I commend you wanting to "get back in action" & be able to EVENTUALLY join your running active wife. However, trying to start by pushing for the event you're talking about is not smart. The plantar fascitis alone needs attention or it will stop you in your tracks.
1. Get excited about your "return to action" but be realistic.
2. See podiatrist re plantar fascitis- you need to be comfortable day to day- then initiate walking program THEN graduate into sensible running program- orthotics are major remedy for foot problem, especially if its got a history.
3. Follow with your DR. re family history, risk factors etc.
4.Get RESTARTED re: smart eating, exercise ( bike, swim, weights, etc)-- when foot better, start walking!
Timing is important- be committed but don't push for this impending race-- BE SMART- good luck.. Dr. Bob Weil
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thanks Dr Weil for the good advice. I am still wondering if I have an increased chance of a heart attack or similar issues if I attempt to do this race. What do you think?
Matt- you're a young guy, but without your specific medical history it's guessing. However. Way overweight, pre diabetic, out of shape, ETC, you are at greater risk. Check with your personal physician would be smart. Plantar fascia problem alone is reason to "duck THIS RACE.