Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger David Haas!

The Importance Of A Cancer Fitness Program

Someone facing the struggles of cancer will have a hard time thinking about staying fit. But exercise is vitally important, whether he has just been diagnosed or is going through treatment. Maintaining some level of exercise each day can make all the difference in energy level and treatment outcome. A sensible cancer fitness program can help.

Exercise benefits
people with all forms and stages of cancer. Oncologists can recommend the best programs for their patients. It may be hard for men with advanced mesothelioma to do anything more than walk across the room, due to breathing difficulties. And women are consigned to basic physical therapy and breathing exercises following breast cancer surgery. The intensity and duration of exercise will differ for each person, but almost everyone can do something during cancer.

The Benefits Of A Cancer Fitness Program

Exercise benefits everyone, and it is essential for
cancer recovery. Patients can do a lot more than they think, even during chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Certain physical tasks may be too hard for some, but physical therapists and personal trainers can design realistic programs for their patients.

The National Cancer Institute
describes exercise as a “critical component of energy balance” which, along with diet and weight, influences health. Exercise controls weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels; maintains healthy bones, muscles, and joints; strengthens the lungs and heart; and promotes emotional well being. Copious research links exercise to reduced cancer risk, increased survivorship, and improved life quality.

Three Components Of A Cancer Fitness Program

Medical experts note three important components to a
cancer fitness program -- flexibility exercise, aerobic activity, and strength training. Stretching keeps joints and muscles limber, which is essential for people who are bedridden for long periods of time.

Aerobic exercise, known as “cardio” in the gym, is anything that works up a sweat, increases the heart rate, and gets the blood pumping. Jogging, bicycling, and swimming are good aerobic activities for people with cancer. Cancer treatments zap the strength, but strength training combats this side effect with muscle building. It keeps patients strong for the fight. Isometric exercises or lifting weights are good ways to get this type of exercise.

The American Cancer Society
recommends between 30 and 45 minutes of exercise, five or more days a week. The exercise should be moderately to vigorously intense. As each cancer experience is unique, patients should talk to their oncologist before starting a cancer fitness program.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Marathon Drop Out- No Shiny Medal For You... (to the tune of "Beauty School Dropout")

Yesterday, I had one of those runs that no runner wants to have— I dropped out of a race.  No one ever trains; pays registration; wakes up early all to drop out of a race. There are a myriad of reasons why a runner may do this, but I guarantee that odds are if you do this once, no matter what the distance, you’ll likely never do it again. If you were sick, you may tell yourself that you will never race while sick again and if you got injured, you may say, I’ll train smarter. Sometimes these dropouts come out of the blue and no matter what you do, it can’t be avoided…. A spectator crosses into you causing you to tumble over; a twisted ankle; etc.  Yesterday marked my 8th long-distance run in the three years I’ve been long distance running, and every race I’ve seen a runner hobbled on the side of the course… yesterday, it was me who pulled out. We all have our reasons for dropping out, and even if it is sensible to others, to us, it is the end of the world.

But, Sunday was a learning experience.

Part of the NF Endurance Team
walking to raise money...
I had been diligent with training, so much so that six months after brain surgery, I was able to do a half-marathon. Did it hurt? Sure, but I did it... But yesterday showed me that each race is different.  The summer was very difficult, with 90+ heat after work and the weight of a suggested second brain surgery for this fall, staying in marathon shape was more difficult than I could have imagined. Thinking about the ICU, and the slow rehabilitation runs and how my neck hurt from longer runs because the muscles had been sliced apart…. This idea alone messed with my training more than the surgery itself. Training, really training and doing 20-40 miles a week was something I wasn’t emotionally equipped to do. Despite the poor training, I was going to take the opportunity to walk with the NF Endurance team and spend the whole 13.1 miles supporting friends doing their first half-marathon and getting to know each other more while raising money for the little-known condition, neurofibromatosis.  Having missed them at the start and then not being able to find them at mile 1.5 on the back portion of the out and back- facing 13.1 miles alone was daunting at best.

Fall started blowing into Los Angeles recently, training didn’t seem so difficult with cooler temperatures. Little things like my running GPS dying did not bother me, nor did the unconventional work hours. I had a rollercoaster summer, but made it through August and September with no surgery and two surgeons telling me to stay far away from the O.R. These small setbacks were not going to get me down… I’m training like it was my first marathon again. The only difference is- Now I know how much work it takes and I know how terrible the wall feels.  Even though some weeks were tough on my training schedule and I’ve been repeating them, I knew getting back to where I was would take some effort since I allowed one opinion of “You must have surgery” to scare me into nearly a nearly static life.

I’m sure this residual brain tumor will take me on a rollercoaster for the rest of my life, I just have to mentally prepare and remember that I should just keep doing what I love doing.  Even though I have been better about training, I need to take Sunday’s setback of dropping out of a race and use it like most of my setbacks and let it springboard me into something better.

It seems that there’s no point in having setbacks if you don’t learn from them to be a better you. August taught me to just stick with it and push forward and the Long Beach Half Marathon taught me to train smarter. Together- training, along with friends and prayer, will push me to my next race February 19, the Inaugural Rock n Roll Half Marathon in Pasadena