News - 20th July 2022

Back to parkrun after bypass surgery


John Evans noticed that his parkruns were getting slower despite putting in the same effort as ever. Feeling something must be wrong, John decided to get a check up with his doctor, which proved to be timely intervention.


The truth is parkrun may have saved my life. It’s exactly a year since my triple heart bypass.


If I’d not been a parkrunner, I’d not have discovered I had angina for many more months, with the condition probably getting worse all the time.


It was well over a year earlier, around March 2020, that I realised I had problems. My day to day fitness seemed fine, but my parkrun times were flattening out and I couldn’t understand why. I felt fit enough at the outset, really up for a 5k, then crossing the finishing line, having given it everything, looking at my finish time and been really disappointed. Something was not right.


I’d started to parkrun in 2015, in my 70th year. In 2019, after constant niggling injuries that stopped me running for weeks at a time, I’d put myself in the hands of an excellent physiotherapist whose exercises had got me back on track. Now I was keen to get back to my 2017 best parkrun performances, but after a year clear of injury it just wasn’t happening.


John Evans 5


Early in 2020, doing my weekday 5ks, I started to feel uncomfortable in my upper chest. It wasn’t pain as such, just some discomfort, like a lump behind my collar bone. I tried to run through it but realised I couldn’t. It just got worse. When I slowed down to a walk it went away.


When eventually I went to the doctor she sprang into action. Along with parallel investigations, she prescribed various medication for angina, just in case, and put me down for an angiogram. She also recommended no running, just brisk walking with caution.


The angiogram didn’t take place until mid-December 2020. I was convinced I most likely had some kind of reflux problem. It felt totally surreal when the doctor conducting the investigation confirmed severe stenosis in more than one of my arteries and without hesitation proposed bypass surgery. Meanwhile, I was told to keep my exercise to gentle strolls around the block.


A long five month wait and then the operation and thankfully, no sign of angina as I returned to fitness. Four months later I was parkrunning again (though much of it at walking pace initially) and my times steadily started to improve as my fitness built, which was great.


John Evans 2


Now I’m following a heart rate training programme so that I can complete the parkrun course while watching that I keep my heart rate within advised boundaries. The signs are that I’m making good progress. I’m learning to be patient, follow the advice and persevere.


I do really recommend that anyone give parkrun a try. It will help improve your health and fitness and may even, as it did for me, one day help flag up a health issue that can then be treated.


John Evans

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