As I discussed in a recent blog post, and is worth reiterating here, runners literally have large hearts–specifically, the size of the left ventricle, a condition called left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH). If you’ve ever had an EKG, you can see whether you have LVH:
See the two biggest points on the EKG–one pointing up and the other pointing down? Those are the R wave and S wave, respectively. Those two waves, along with the small Q-wave (that little downward-pointing notch that begins the R-wave), represent the depolarization of the ventricles, which ultimately leads to contraction. The size of the R and S waves reflect the size of the left ventricle because the left ventricle is the heart’s largest chamber, so it has the most electrical activity. When the height of the R wave plus the depth of the S wave exceeds 35 millimeters, that defines LVH.
When you run at the maximum capability of your heart to pump blood, it’s threatening to your heart’s survival, so your heart responds by increasing the size of its left ventricle, the chamber of the heart responsible for pumping blood to everywhere in the body except the lungs. The larger the left ventricle, the more blood it can hold; the more blood it can hold, the more blood it can pump. Increasing the size of your left ventricle increases your maximum stroke volume and cardiac output, which sends more blood and oxygen to your muscles and other organs and enables you to run faster and oxygenate your whole body.
So what does a large heart have to do with love and Valentine’s Day? Everything. Not only does a big heart pump more blood and oxygen, it may even enhance your capacity to love, which is something your partner will definitely appreciate. There is also a strong relationship between a person’s ability to love and his or her ability to love running. The commitment and devotion it takes to be a good runner (or any endeavor you pursue to its fullest extent) is very similar to the commitment and devotion it takes to love someone. Love is not a part-time job.
This Valentine’s Day, tell that special someone in your life that you love him or her. And go for a run together.
Love (and Heart) Boosting Valentine’s Workout:
Warm up with easy jogging (or cardio activity of your choice) for about 10 minutes, then pick up the pace for about 10-20 seconds with about a minute recovery and repeat a few times to rev the engine and finish off the warm-up. Then run (or cardio activity of your choice) hard enough for 3 to 4 minutes that you reach 95 to 100 percent of your maximum heart rate, take a 2- to 3-minute jog recovery, and repeat the hard-recovery cycle 3 to 6 times. The hard efforts should feel like a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10; very hard, but manageable. Finish the workout with a 10-minute cool-down jog and feel good about yourself that you’ve just helped your heart get a little bigger.
For the National Heart month of February, I’m donating 40% of every Run-Fit training program downloaded from my website to the American Heart Association in memory of my father, who passed away of a heart attack at age 51.
Download your program at http://revo2lutionrunning.com/trainingprograms.