NEW YORK (PIX11) – After surviving a “widow maker” heart attack, Vince Feola is ready to take on the TCS New York City Marathon on Sunday.
Feola, 52, of Long Island along with thousands of other people, will run the 26.2-mile course throughout the five boroughs. He hopes to finish the marathon in six hours.
“I was 49 at the time of my heart attack,” said Feola, a husband with two kids and an IT manager at Northwell Health. “I was watching a hockey game at the time, and I started to feel tired and could not stop yawning. I later found out it is because your body lacks oxygen, so it compensates by yawning. By the time I got to the hospital, I knew I was having a heart attack.”
Feola said the experience was surreal as he was awake but in a daze for much of his procedure. After, he knew it was time to make a change.
Although Feola had already been walking and active before his cardiac episode, he knew he wanted to take it up a notch. Six months after his heart attack, he told doctors he was going to start training for marathons and triathlons.
Feola, who has a background in sports from his college and high school years, started slowly. After a year and a half of rehab and training, he completed an Iron Man triathlon at Jones Beach in August.
“One of the biggest things that helped me was being surrounded by people,” Feola said. “There are so many clubs in the tri-state area. I became part of the Land Shark Endurance for minimal money a year. Now, I am with people who have also experienced training for a marathon, or a triathlon and we can feed off each other’s energy.”
Feola said in nine months, he completed his first mini-triathlon, his first Olympic triathlon, his first Iron Man, and now he is ready to take on the TCS New York City Marathon.
Feola, along with Dr. Adam D. Bitterman, chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Huntington Hospital and an assistant professor at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, offered a few tips for those who want to start a training plan.
- Find people who have gone through the training process.
- Get into a mindset of training, showing up, being present, and understanding that training for a marathon does not happen overnight. It is a long-term goal.
- Pay attention to what you put in your body.
“Training for a marathon is a huge undertaking and is a major task,” Bitterman said. “Something that I feel is not talked about is nutrition. People training for marathons should follow a high protein diet, which will help produce energy.”
Expert advice from a doctor:
- The key to running is keeping your core, hips, quads, and hamstrings strong. Some beginner exercises that Bitterman recommends are wall sits, planks, calf raises, and sideline leg raises.
- Minor aches and pains are usually signs of you overworking your body. Bitterman recommends listening to your body.
- Good running shoes include Hoka’s, New Balance, Brooks, and Saucony. (Bitterman does not have financial disclosures with these companies.)
- Rowing, elliptical training, and bike training are easy on the joints for older and heavier-framed patients.
“Marathon training is a long-term goal, one that requires monitoring and maintenance,” Bitterman said. “Planning for off days must be done, and finally motivation, passion and follow through is the key to success.”