Cardiac Stress or Simply Abuse

By Peg Labiuk | 03/22/11


We’ve teamed up with Marilyn Trout, certified USA Cycling Elite Coach to answer Voler Newsletter List members’ training questions. You can view her coach profile at Send your cycling inquiries to Marilyn, and for a limited time, if yours is selected to be answered in our Training column, Voler will send you a $20 gift certificate that can be used towards any purchase from the Voler Store at To submit your inquiry, e-mail her at, and type “Voler Training Question” in the subject line of the e-mail.

Voler E-mail list member Richard Sinclair is our 70th winner of a $20 VeloWear gift certificate! His training question that follows was answered by Peg Labiuk (nee Peggy Maass), a colleague of Marilyn Trout, and a certified NCCP level 3 coach with a career in international road and track racing. She is a World Championship medalist, World Record holder, U.S. Olympic Team member, former British national team coach and Kreb's Cycle co-founder (British Columbia, Canada).

Cardiac Stress or Simply Abuse

Hello Coach,

I read "Strange Heart Rate Data" August '09. Frightening stuff. I too have seen results like this during ironman training, though never in a race.

I wrote it off as equipment malfunction as there seemed never to be any consistency of appearance or potential triggers... plus the fact that it wasn't noticed (ie nothing felt) during the sessions.

I had an episode of passing out around 5 years ago at work after doing too many 7 days weeks together with 14 hour days and hourly coffee (no sense of your own mortality at that age!) but tests showed no problems, just prescribed more sensible work load.

Is this something you can make yourself more prone to by earlier cardiac stress?

I've been out of Ironman racing for a couple of years due to starting a family (2 boys are MUCH more challenging) so perhaps more "Ironing-man" right now.

But I'm currently starting a business ( and ) and working long hours daily while drinking too much coffee, so your comments made me think! It was a scary episode so don't want to repeat it.

Would be fascinated to hear anything further you discover.

All best,

Dear Richard,

I have by no means done an exhaustive study of your examples, however, I was quickly convinced that caffeine, alcohol, and stress are all triggers for arrhythmia. More importantly, the absence of those triggers returned the subject to normal. Others noted hot weather, dehydration, and exercising after a full day work as contributors. Some noted ingestion of ibuprofen and decongestants with pseudoephedrine also brought it on. I'm sure you can read up on all those and be persuaded to at least cut the caffeine out. What I find interesting is that your body responded the way it did. Others might have experienced severe cramping way before you got to irregular heartbeats. So, it's not so much the previous incident that makes you more prone to cardiac stress, it's your genetic predisposition that makes you respond that way. With that in mind, I wouldn't take the response lightly. It's good that you had yourself checked out medically and you'd be wise to not repeat the experiment.

Coach Peg

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