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Unintended Consequences

One of my primary motivations for starting to run was to try to ward off the high blood pressure that has plagued/does plague every single member of my family once they hit 50. I doubted I could run my way out of all medical interventions, but I hoped I could at least cut down on the dosage or number of meds I’d eventually require. At the same time, I became a zealous monitor of salt intake. Before I began running I ran a very average 120/78, with 120/80 being textbook normal.

Fast forward to today’s trip the doctor for recurring neck pain and tingling in my left arm. (I’ve had neck issues for a few years, but the tingling is new and warranted a check-up.) The cuff went on and the results looked very, very different from when I began running six months ago: 90/70.

“Are you ever dizzy?” the doctor enquired.

“Not really, only if I stand or sit up too fast.”

“Your blood pressure is really low. We don’t want you to have a heart attack, but you do need to be able to stand. What do you take when you run?”

“Electrolytes every 30 minutes.” (Yes, the same items I swore I’d never need or purchase a few months back. I bought sugary goo to “eat” while I run, too. It’s funny how quickly all these bizarre things start to feel normal.)

“And your off days?”

“My off days? Nothing.”

“Start. Add some salt to your diet, too.  And hydrate on non-running days as if you were running. You need to bring your pressure up a bit.”

WHAT?! This conversation was a total paradigm buster. It never in a million years occurred to me that I could bring my blood pressure down too much for my normal range, even if 90/70 isn’t clinically hypotensive. I’ll learn more about my neck shortly: I am getting an MRI today to look for compression or disc problems and I begin physical therapy Monday. Which brings me to my second paradigm buster of the day:

“I’m sending you to a great guy; Tim works with a lot of runners and dancers and can isolate problems endurance athletes run into.”

“I don’t need that! I not a real runner yet; I only just started.”

“What’s your mileage?”

“I’m up to 12 for my long runs.”

“You’re a runner, honey. And Tim’s your guy.”

I’m still not sure about this. In my own mind’s eye, I need to have been running a year or more and/or finish a full marathon before I’d ever identify myself as “a runner” (I half expect to quit any day, given my track record), but if it gets me to a good physical therapist for my neck, I’m not in the mood to contradict. Now I’m off to eat some lovely, salty popcorn.


One Response to “Unintended Consequences”

  1. goldsteinrita says:

    Enjoy it while you can!

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