Just for fun, this year, I decided to start a #cardioproject2017 because there are a lot of misconceptions about “cardio” within the fitness world, everyday life and cardiovascular health in general.

We are told to eat well, exercise, stop smoking, reduce our stress and maintain a healthy weight. That’s all you have to do! GREAT, then why are so many “healthy” people affected by cardiovascular disease?

In order to DO cardio, we are told to exercise X/wk for X amount of time. Is “exercise” the answer? If not, then what?

How does the cardiovascular system work in the first place?

If I feel good, then that must mean I’m fine with regards to my CV health, right?!

If I run (or do any sport/activity) then my cardio is fine!

What is the difference between performance (recreational to elite athletes) and health (overall cardio health)?

Without seeing a doctor what are things I can do to tell if my cardio is up to par? What can I do to help my cardio, period?

If I am at risk (genetics), what can I do? If I have a heart defect or abnormality at birth what can I do?

These are just a few questions I will touch upon throughout this year.

Let’s start off with RUNNING! I am sure almost everyone will agree that running has come up in their life, defined as an activity to increase cardio. Absolutely, sure it does. But, to what extent? Are there better ways to increase your cardio aside from pounding the kms/miles? And, if you LOVE running how can you make it a safer, healthier option of cardio work.

Last week I did a V02 and Lactate run test to have a starting point for my “fitness cardio”. Here’s snippets of the test.

Brian, Senior Sport Scientist/ Head Sport Performance Coach, testing my V02 and lactates at Peak Centre for Human Performance. Evan, Sport Scientist Intern, helping out and Kevin, rolling the camera! I used the Splice app through GoPro for this video.

I started slow and did not go to V02max. My body was not ready for the pounding (only ran ~10 times in the last 2 years) on my body or the speed. However, I did get enough information to continue on with my #cardioproject2017. Please click on the link below to see my results.

Kristin Marvin – Running VO2 – Jan 10th, 2017

My results: What the heck do they mean? I will go through that over the next little while in upcoming posts. I will say a few personal thoughts on my test.

As a former runner it is extremely tough and humbling to view my results. It was my life in high school (over 20 years ago) and I dabbled in it on and off over the years. Last time was in the summer of 2011, where I ran 2-3 times a week and did some triathlons.

I’m doing this for various reasons. To show running is not enough. And to make sure everyone understands that if they are a runner or an athlete in another sport does not equate to overall cardiovascular health.

Join the ride on:










Float Away

Whether it’s physical feats through sport/activity, the grind at work, or pressure at home, it’s hard to turn OFF. Our frenetic identities of “living” today, are a multichotomy, to say the least.

What are you doing to wind down, relax, let go, take respite? What are you doing to recover from hard workouts, difficult weeks, and life stresses?

Some of you may or may not have found your gateway to ease (i.e. deep breathing, walk in nature, ocean swim, meditating, yoga, massage, stretching, etc.). Here’s something else you can try!

I recently went to “Life Spring Float Tank Centre” in Cockburn. Watch my video above to see the float pod and set up in a private room.

To be honest, I initially looked at floating as a ‘placebo’. Whatever it is that you like, want or feel the need to do-> THAT will help you! Back to floating… after reading many articles dispersed over the last 50 years I was schooled and intrigued.

Generally speaking here, from a few standpoints (there are more):

Physiology- ↓ heart rate, ↓ blood pressure

Neuropsychology- ↑ production of alpha & theta waves and ↓ production of beta & gamma waves

Pain- ↓ chronic pain

Recovery- ↑ musculoskeletal recovery

So what? Well, it has helped thousands of people with anxiety, PTSD, addictions (smoking, alcohol), fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, psychosomatic illnesses, and athletic recovery.

Most studies work with the R.E.S.T. {Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique/Therapy} principle/theory which ties in perfectly with reasons why people would want to try a Float in the first place. You have a private room, private pod, no sound, no vibration, essentially no stimulation. It’s just your naked self in the water.

Now, if you are an A.I.R. head that might be a challenge. A head that has the “Anxiety Induced Relaxation” attached to it, going to a million thoughts a minute upon ‘trying to relax’. You might want to pretend it’s a game and do exercises in the water to help you get in the mood of chilling. There is plenty of room in the pod to stretch, do yoga, squat, etc. You don’t HAVE to close your eyes and sleep the whole time. I, myself, did 30 minutes of stretching. It’s your 30 minutes (or 1 hour) of time. Do as you please!

We are all bombarded with hyper stimulation today, producing way too much cortisol, creating a cataclysmic effect on all the systems in our body. Everyone knows stress generates inflammation. Small amounts of inflammation that the body can flush out are fine… but heightened, prolonged tsunamis of inflammation will not go unnoticed. How the inflammation manifests itself is entirely individual. How are you switching off today? Why not try a float! It might be what you need.

Heart Rate Training Part V


I need to use my HR monitor every time I train! Not true. When you are ridiculously tired or stressed [other reasons are in Part II] just try the “Talk Test”.

That is stupid!~ some people might say. Contrary to what you may think a lot of research has been done relating to the “Talk Test”. It showed that when people had significant difficulty with their talking, they were at/ or very close to their lactate threshold [where muscles can no longer metabolize and remove lactic acid as it builds during exercise].

So the next time you go running, you can leave your HR monitor at home and try the “Talk Test”.

Easy: carrying on a conversation with no effort

Medium: having to pause for breath after a sentence (or two or three)

Hard: cannot carry on a conversation (just maybe a few words here or there)



Heart Rate Training Part IV


Steady state training means steady HR, right? Wrong!

Your HR will increase due to a condition called cardiac drift.

Let’s say you run for an hour at a certain pace. Throughout that hour your body temperature rises, you start sweating, and lose some fluids. The fluid loss actually comes from your blood stream; so, the blood is redistributed in your body, blood volume decreases, which in turn decreases stroke volume. Your increased HR is to help compensate for lower stroke volume and to maintain a constant cardiac output.

In short, while your speed per km(or mile) can stay the same for the entire hour run, your HR will increase! Have fun!


Heart Rate Training Part III


Once you establish your heart rate and training zones you think “Perfect!” I can finally exercise properly. You run, cycle, do the elliptical, spin, crossfit, swim and everything else in between. You soon realize your HR fluctuates like crazy and sometimes you can’t even get in those zones. ARGH!

Well, heart rates are specific to the activity you are doing. YES, your HR is different in running, cycling, swimming, elliptical, etc. What do I mean exactly? Let’s say you are a runner (or running is your priority in training right now). You need to run to find your HRmax and your HR training zones. You use these HR training zones to do your running workouts, not any other workouts. On your off days and/or easy days, where you may not even run, then ditch the HR monitor- just go slow!

HOWEVER, if you have A type personality keep the HR monitor on and make sure you keep your HR down because it can creep up really fast! This is especially true if you are with a group of friends who like competing with each other on the off days, or you are cycling to work as additional light training and you HAVE to pass that dude who just pissed you off. Remember HR is specific, you can’t cookie cut it to other activities. Happy training 🙂