The increased pumping capacity of the heart that occurs during running requires an adaptation process, as the heart muscle must physiologically hypertrophy to gain elasticity.
These are a series of recommendations to prepare our organism as well as possible for challenges such as popular races.
There is no doubt about the benefits of running at a cardiac and vascular level, but some factors must be taken into account so that the effort is not counterproductive and leads us to ‘throw in the towel’ on the first day.
The moment someone starts exercising and his or her musculature has a greater need for blood supply, the heart responds with an increase in cardiac output, the amount of blood the heart is able to pump per minute. The increased pumping capacity requires an adaptation process, as the heart muscle has to physiologically hypertrophy to gain elasticity and improve the contraction and relaxation function.
In addition, the circulatory system also requires a progressive adaptation time, so that through the improvement of the elasticity of the arteries and the increase in the number of capillaries in each muscle, the supply of blood and oxygen necessary for the muscles during exercise is facilitated. For this reason, variables such as blood pressure tend to be reduced when a person is well trained. While normal blood pressure should be less than 140/90 mmHg, in people who practice sports we frequently find values close to 120/60 mmHg.
If this advice is ignored, running can lead to increased cardiovascular risk, injury or overtraining syndrome.
On the other hand, one of the variables that easily allows us to recognize a good adaptation of the heart to exercise is the decrease in heart rate at rest and during the same intensity of exercise, i.e., cardiovascular adaptation to exercise allows us to run with an increasingly lower heart rate and blood pressure, since the heart is able to pump the same amount of blood per minute with fewer beats because its function of dilating and contracting is increasingly efficient.
Basic points to start running
- Always enjoy the exercise. If you run at an appropriate intensity you should be able to talk to the person next to you.
- Invisible training is essential. Be well nourished (eat enough complex carbohydrates, proteins and monounsaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil) and do not forget to hydrate before, during and after the race.
- Rest and recover well between training sessions. From a muscular point of view, when we perform an intense exercise we need between 48 and 72 hours to resume the same exercise and that our muscles have recovered (without signs of inflammation or oxidation).
- Listen to our organism and analyze if we feel well, if our sleep is restful. If we do not sleep well or feel discomfort in any part of the body, it will be a sign that we are exercising at a higher intensity than we can assimilate.
- Have a medical check-up and take into account family history (the main cause of sudden death in young athletes is related to some genetic alteration, and in older athletes to coronary heart disease). On the other hand, risk factors should be controlled (high blood pressure, appearance of symptoms such as dizziness, palpitations, dyspnea, precordial pain or loss of consciousness), as well as adequate control of blood pressure and undergo a resting electrocardiogram -and in the case of people over 40-50 years of age, those with risk factors and athletes exposed to a higher level of exercise, a stress test should also be performed-.
If these tips are ignored, running can have detrimental effects such as increased cardiovascular risk, joint and muscle injuries, or overtraining syndrome, which occurs when a person trains too much but is not able to adapt to the effort, leading to risks to the cardiovascular, neuro-endocrine and immune systems.
There are some very simple warning signs that indicate an inadequate assimilation of training:
- Sleep starts to become less restful, so that a person wakes up several times during the night or wakes up with the feeling that he/she has not rested. Sleep is key for the final effect of training to be good and as healthy as possible.
- Mood changes: irritability and nervousness.
Now, the benefits largely justify the preparation of the race, because running will not only improve myocardial function (systolic and diastolic) and decrease the excitability of the heart (by better modulation of adrenaline production), but, at the vascular level, it will increase the elasticity of our arteries with the consequent decrease in blood pressure and heart rate.