Training after Disease and Cancer
"What I don’t understand is how my conditioning can be this good when I don’t do hard workouts. Felt strong. Best ride I’ve had since I started my treatment in August 2020. Feels good!" - BM
Not long ago, the road back from cancer or disease was limited to what you received in the hospital. Support programs were hard to find compared to what we have today. Since 2004, TCR has been a part of Wellspring and Cancervive by raising money via cycling across Canada and the US to raise funds for Cancer Survivors and their families. Today, more events such as the Enbridge Ride to Conquer continues raise money for research and support.
However, I continually encounter clients that are trying to recover from disease or cancer that do not have a road-map for exercise. The majority of these clients want to get back to their old form by training how they used to. It is in our genes to test ourselves to see how we compare to our previous levels. The mistake in this approach is our body is not ready for hard efforts which can cause more damage than necessary and excessive fatigue. Physiologically, our body is not able to handle large increases in lactate and the inflammation that comes with big exercise. It is like jumping into the deep end and hoping you remember how to swim! There is a better and smarter way.
Our approach to helping people get back moving without unnecessary fatigue is structured exercise and re-thinking what you think a good workout is. The biggest mistake is re-loading your body with lactate. Exercise needs to stay aerobic which is the lower heart rate and fat burning zones. Patience and consistency is paramount. I'd rather have people move everyday for 20 min instead of one big event on the weekend. Short and consistent workouts. This also doesn't mean you are limited to walking!
Strength, yoga, hiking, skiing can all be done, but with a different mindset. Do not go for the "burn." Burn equals lactate equals inflammation. Strength can be done with less reps and more sets. i.e. 10 sets of 3 instead of 3 sets of 10. 10 reps will lead to the lactate build-up. XC skiing is great but on flatter terrains. Same for hiking and walking. Try dancing!
This prescription allows you to build your aerobic base, the cornerstone of endurance. Interestingly, this is how Olympic endurance athletes train for months in their off-season. They are strict with their efforts and follow the aerobic building plan. Overall, my advise to people recovering from disease or cancer is to get moving again but consider the following:
-Determine your aerobic heart rate and fat burning zones
-Try Altitude Training as the low oxygen environment reduces lactate
-Short attainable workouts that you can do everyday
-Choose modes of exercise you like
-Keep it aerobic, no lactate burn