I have known a number of smokers who managed to quit that habit. In every case they hoped they had done it soon enough to avoid things like heart trouble and lung cancer.
Now comes this information about top-caliber endurance athletes. My employer, a cross-country ski racer since the 1970s, has developed some heart rhythm problems. His many friends with similar interests have been sending him information, including this recent study that shows a 30% increase in the incidence of heart problems among the top tier of cross-country ski racers. Other studies have extended the risk pool to include hard-core competitive athletes in other self-propelled sports.
Gosh, I only hope I quit soon enough.
I'm not seriously worried. I did have a bout of premature ventricular contractions (pvc) in the 1980s when I cut back significantly on my training. It was exacerbated by my habitual caffeine overdoses and eventually resolved itself. But the one thing I learned during my competitive years is that I'm not all that competitive. The people who are damaging themselves in pursuit of athletic glory are on a higher level of agony -- and sometimes unsanctioned physiological experimentation -- entirely. So you see, there's a lot to be said for mildly vigorous underachievement.
In honor of that I think I'll take a rest day. The weather is wet and I slept late.