Today was the second of my three mid-week runs. My running mileage strategy is simple. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, I run X miles. Sunday, the distance is 2X. This week, X equals four miles.
My integration of leg strength training is going well. My sets are still sub-maximal. I do five sets each of deadlifts and back squats. Eventually, I would like to train my legs as I do my upper body. I use straight sets of five for those muscle groups, with the last one or two to failure. I felt a little residual tiredness in my legs this morning, but it was very slight.
Today, in the evening, my body battery slipped below 20, and I feel the result. Consequently, I am sitting here writing about it instead of doing it.
This Sunday, my 2X plans hit a roadblock. I had bloodwork done by my healthcare provider on Friday. I missed their call on Saturday, but they left a message asking me to return it. Sunday morning, just as I was preparing to call them, they called me. My blood electrolytes were critically low. They wanted me to come to the emergency room immediately.
Notwithstanding an active life composed of the Marine Corps, some pretty aggressive scuba diving, and a lot of running and strength training, I have only been to the ER twice as a patient. Denise and I attribute our mutual good luck in avoiding the ER to active, healthy lifestyles and great care put into our nutrition. But the approach has not always been a failsafe. The first time I was in an ER as a patient was in 1997. I began having excruciating headaches after a week-long bout with the flu. The pain felt equivalent to having a nail driven into my head with a hammer, and I just wanted to curl up in a ball and die. Thinking I was having a stroke, my spooked doctor sent me to the ER. The hospital did an MRI but found nothing. The next day, after breakfast, the pain started to subside. Within a few days, it was gone altogether. I realized that week what had caused the pain. While I had the flu, I inadvertently went cold turkey on what had been an eight-cup of coffee-a-day habit. The headaches were the result of caffeine withdrawal.
Sunday, the possible results of hyponatremia were almost as serious as a stroke. I was put on a saline injection to get the electrolytes back to close to normal. I spent half of Sunday in the ER, hooked to an intravenous saline drip to restore my blood chemistry. Ironically, I was planning an eight-mile run that morning. Denise and I follow a low-salt diet as a matter of health, shunning almost all commercial products with added salt. She cooks with no added salt. I also focus on maintaining light-colored urine as an indicator of sufficient hydration. Two days later, my low electrolytes mainly improved at a follow-up meeting with my doctor, but we continued monitoring them.
My lifestyle and fitness level have given me a sense of indestructibility over the decades. Sunday was a reminder that this sense is an illusion. I am looking forward to another twenty years before I see the insides of an ER as a patient again!