Happy Valentine’s Day!
It’s only fitting to talk about my favorite body part on Valentine’s Day—the heart. From the time we’re teenagers scribbling cartoon hearts on our notebooks, we use the heart as a symbol of love. But it is also the most extraordinary muscle of our body. It is always working, from before we are born until we die.
One of the most elegant adaptations your body makes to running and other forms of endurance exercise is an increase in the size of your heart—specifically, the left ventricle of your heart, which is responsible for sending blood to everywhere in your body except your lungs. This enlargement of your left ventricle results in a greater stroke volume—the volume of blood your heart pumps out with each beat. The larger your left ventricle, the more blood it can hold; the more blood it can hold, the more blood it can pump to the muscles you use to run. In many respects, your ability to become a better runner is limited by your heart’s ability to pump blood and oxygen. Make a better heart and you make a better runner.
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 enhances your capacity to love, which is something your partner will definitely appreciate.
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.
When you put your heart into running, you don’t just grow your heart structurally; you grow it metaphorically. When you put your heart into running for the sake of the emotional investment, your heart grows. There’s tremendous value in that. Make a better heart and you make a better person.
This Valentine’s Day, tell that special someone in your life that you love him or her. And go for a run together.
For the National Heart month of February, get a 25% discount on any Run-Fit training program downloaded from the website. I’m donating an additional 25% of every Run-Fit training program 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://run-fit.com/trainingprograms and enter code BIGHEART.
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 to 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.